PhD position on a framework for actionable intelligence for fraud detection and prevention

The Centrum voor Veiligheid en Digitalisering (Centre for Safety and Digitalisation, CVD) is a knowledge institute in which companies and public organisations are collaborating on questions related to this theme. In this context,  the University of Twente, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, and the Police Academy of the Netherlands are setting up a joint research program around this time. The research program is centered around the 3 focus areas of the CVD: critical data & infrastructure, actionable intelligence and cyberresilience.

The aim of this research project is to develop a practical framework supporting the effective and legitimate application of actionable intelligence for the detection and prevention of fraud in (inter)organizational settings. The framework is developed on the basis of a mixed-method strategy, including the in-depth analysis of selected cases, expert interviews, and survey methodologies. Using this mixed methodology approach, the project reveals mechanisms that drive (un)intended (side)effects of actionable intelligence within (inter)organizational contexts and translates those mechanisms into a practical framework.

For each research line, they are looking for two PhD students to work on this theme. The PhD students will work in a multidisciplinary fashion, in close collaboration with each other, and with the supervision teams with members from the different CVD partners. 

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Vacature details

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About the Project:

Fraud is a serious crime with devastating effects on well-being and trust in society. Fraud can take on many different forms, such as: business- and bankruptcy fraud, insurance fraud, credit card fraud, or tax fraud. Their technologically transforming world has been a breeding place for new digital fraud forms of fraud, known as phishing, spoofing, identity theft, and on-line romance scams. Such acts of deceiving or misrepresenting for personal (financial) gain have strong financial and emotional consequences on individual victims. Their prevalence leaves a mark on society as a whole.

The Dutch government recently announced to consider the fight against fraud as one of its major priorities. However, the government and the police face a serious lack of administrative and enforcement capacity and a practical framework for tracking down fraud and investigating reported instances of fraud. An important (partial) solution to the capacity issue could be the use of actionable intelligence as a technological, algorithmic approach to the prevention, detection, and investigation of fraud. With a (clear) set of indicators for fraudulent behavior and fraudsters ‘red flags’ can be efficiently identified by algorithms instead of people (enforcement officers, forensic accountants, etc.).

As attractive as the application of actionable intelligence for the detection and prevention of fraud may seem, the literature and recent scandals illustrate that such algorithms may also have unintended (side) effects with serious impact on society. Algorithms may be unreliable or become systematically biased. Without proper checks and balances within the (inter)organizational context, the potentially efficient technology may become ineffective and, more importantly, illegitimate. A prime example of such a case is the child-care allowance fraud scandal in the Dutch tax agency. Initially intended to detect and penalize fraudulent behavior by a small group of users, the algorithm became part of a systemic, (inter)organizational prejudiced bias towards specific minority groups of applicants. The algorithm not only became ineffective, but also illegitimate: ultimately, the Dutch cabinet fell—taking its responsibility for the unintended consequences of the introduction of this actionable intelligence.

The mechanisms that drive such unintended consequences can be found, theoretically, in the specific contexts in which the technology is introduced. In this project, they study this topic to understand it better, and finally to translate their knowledge about the mechanisms into lessons learned from the cases (generic and specific), the expert interviews and the surveys into a practical framework for application in (inter)organizational contexts. This framework aims to integrate behavioral, legal, administrative, and ethical aspects of the implementation of the actionable intelligence within various (inter)organizational contexts.


Your profile:

  • You have, or will shortly acquire a MSc degree in the social sciences (e.g., Public Administration, Criminology, Sociology, Organisational Sciences, Political Science) preferably in relation to safety and security topics.
  • You are interested in the relation between modern technologies and social behaviours.
  • You enjoy working in multidisciplinary teams as well as with partners from practice.
  • You are creative, dedicated and a proven team-player.
  • You are interested in participating in educational activities (for practice).
  • You are proficient in English (verbal and written).


Their offer:

  • As a PhD student at UT, you will be appointed to a full-time position for four years, with a qualifier in the first year, within a very stimulating and exciting scientific environment;
  • The University and partner institutes offer a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues;
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU);
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.443,- (first year) to € 3.122,- (fourth year);
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • Part of this training programme will be filled by training developed especially by the CVD partners;
  • They encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other staff.

Bedrijfsprofiel Universiteit Twente

About the organization:

The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, they tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. They  also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. They do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Their research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.

As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. They equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for their society. With them, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. They offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which they encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through their flexible, adaptable benefits.

About the department:

The section of Public Administration (PA) is part of the wider Department of Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour (HIB) at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management & Social Sciences (BMS) at the University of Twente. The section of Public Administration is responsible for research and education in Public Administration; in the contemporary context of grand societal challenges in a technologically transforming society. They seek to contribute to the development of a fair and sustainable (digital) society from a Public Administration scholarship perspective. The section of Public Administration is a group of researchers with expertise in the subdisciplines Public Policy, Public Management and Public Governance in a strong methodological setting. They focus on how the grand societal and technological challenges of their time are addressed by governments and governance institutions. They include the perspective of globalization and localization of governance in a technologically transforming world. Challenges include, for instance, sustainable development, energy transition, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, (big) data-driven and algorithmic policy-making and governance, transboundary crises, data protection, smart cities, or administrative reforms.


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