UCL Grand Challenges


Exploring the experiences of elderly cyber-crime victims in Mumbai

Exploring the experiences of older people who were victims of cyber-crime, and what may have increased their vulnerability.

Fingers typing on laptop

26 February 2017


Grant: Grand Challenges UCL2034 Grants
Year awarded: 2016-17
Amount awarded: £4,200


  • Dr Kartikeya Tripathi, Security and Crime Science, Engineering Sciences
  • Dr Claudia Cooper, Division of Psychiatry, Brain Sciences

To better protect vulnerable people from cybercrime, the team set out to understand vulnerability factors and what can be done to prevent it, by speaking to victims and their families, as well as police officers in Mumbai.

Drs Tripathi and Cooper recruited older people who have been victim of cybercrime through the Mumbai Police Cyber Crime Investigation Cell. They conducted in depth, qualitative interviews in a mix of English, Hindi and Marathi languages, and developed a topic guide in collaboration with TISS and Help Age India to explore vulnerability factors, including cognitive and illness factors, family dynamics, education and IT skills, independence or dependence in undertaking transactions online, isolation, mental health and other relevant factors.

Initial results of the study show that cybercrime against the elderly is a serious problem that largely goes unreported in Mumbai. The victims face institutional barriers from banks, police, phone companies and regulators in lodging their complaints. The money lost is rarely recovered, and questions can be raised about how well private data is protected by concerned institutions. There was consensus amongst participants that organised criminals operate in the field and it is a low risk crime with very small chances of getting caught.

Victims of cybercrime experience stress, depression and shame and believe that they are unlikely to recover the money.  It changes their online behaviour in a way that makes them less likely to trust online banking or the internet leading them to avoid using technologies.

Recommendations of the study include need for awareness of the elderly, sensitisation of the police, and a stronger regulatory mechanism that mandates banks to insure their customers against cybercrime.

Watch Dr Kartikeya Tripathi present this work in a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture.