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Cyber-fraud and business (SF19/AFM/SPROAT)

Faculty of Business and Law

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Dr P Sproat Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Fraud, including online fraud, is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales
(National Audit Office 2017). The annual losses to private sector businesses fraud in the UK are
estimated to be as high as £140.4 billion (UK Fraud Costs Measurement Committee 2017).
Fraud is not new, but the rise of the internet has provided opportunities for fraudsters to commit
crime “on an industrial scale” (Office for National Statistics, on-line, 2018). Financially-driven
cyber criminals perpetrate fraud in a variety of ways including social engineering fraud. This
involves the victim being manipulated by the perpetrator into giving out confidential
information and/or funds. This exploitation of a person’s trust compounds the harm done to
the individuals, businesses and society - as a whole, for trust is an important element in social
and business relations (Blois 1999, Zanini and Migules 2016).

Cyberfraud also differs from traditional fraud, in that it “presents a greater challenge to
government, law enforcement and industry” (NAO, 2017 p2). Online fraudsters can target
thousands of victims quickly, if not anonymously, from anywhere in the world. They
constantly innovate to take advantage of people and exploit weaknesses in emerging
technologies. Such criminals “are unlikely to be traced and prosecuted” (NAO, 2017 p2). The onus
of combating this type of crime falls mainly to businesses for the role of law enforcement will be
“primarily one of disruption and occasional deterrence” and while large corporations can afford
the private services of those who offer remedies “dedicated awareness and educative responses are required” for small and medium enterprises (Levi et al, 2017 p16).

This academically rigorous research aims to aid SME’s by examining the targeting, nature and
extent of cyberfraud, as well as fraud prevention strategies and relevant management and organisational theories and concepts such as risk. In doing so it aims to strengthen the resilience of organisations vulnerable to these evolving threats.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Blois K.J. (1999) ‘Trust in business to business Relationships: an evaluation of its status’
Journal of management Studies 36(2). 197-215

British Retail Consortium (2017) Retail Crime Survey 2016

Levi, M, Doig, A, Gundur, R, Wall, D and Williams, (2017). ‘Cyberfraud and the implications for effective risk-based responses: themes from UK research’. Crime, Law and Social Change 67 (1) , pp. 77-96

National Audit Office (2017) Online fraud Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (NAO. London)
Office for National Statistics (2018) Overview of fraud and computer misuse statistics for England
and Wales

UK Fraud Costs Measurement Committee (2017) Annual Fraud Indicator 2017 (Crowe Clark Whitehill,
Experian, University of Portsmouth)

Zanini M.T.F and Migules C.P. (2016) ‘Trust as an element of informal coordination and its relationship
with organizational performance’ Economia 14(2) 77-87

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