Industry Insights

Driving Integrity: InnovateMR’s Take on Combatting Fraud in the Polls


Having over 20 years of experience in the insights industry and as the CEO of InnovateMR, I’ve been deeply immersed in the complex world of market research, where combating fraud is a constant challenge. It’s an issue that not only affects the integrity of our data but also erodes the trust of our clients. While we’ve made significant strides in addressing fraud, there’s still much work to be done especially as technology continues to advance. I was honored to be asked to be in ABC News 538’s article “How pollsters are (and aren’t) fighting fraud” written by Kaleigh Rogers, which highlighted the specific challenges pollsters face in combating fraud, especially in light of the upcoming Presidential Election in November 2024. As fraudsters become more skillful and technologies like generative artificial intelligence become more accessible, there’s a growing concern about the efficacy of current safeguards in maintaining the accuracy and security of polls.

Protecting Research Integrity: Ethical Standards and Credibility

As a leader in the field of market research, I’ve witnessed the significance of upholding the integrity of all forms of research, extending beyond just polls. This integrity serves as the cornerstone of trust and reliability in research findings, shaping decisions, policies, and strategies across various sectors. Apart from compromising the reliability of data, fraudsters can also undermine the integrity and trustworthiness of research in two major ways:

  • Ethical Standards: Fraudulent activities in research can compromise the ethical standards upheld by the scientific community. This includes issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, and the fair treatment of research subjects. Fraudulent behavior might involve manipulating or fabricating data to fit desired outcomes, which not only distorts the scientific record but also violates the ethical principles essential for conducting responsible research.
  • Reputation and Credibility: Fraudulent activities tarnish the reputation and credibility of individual researchers, academic institutions, and the broader scientific community. When instances of fraud come to light, it not only damages the careers of the individuals involved but also undermines public trust in science. This erosion of trust can have far-reaching consequences, affecting funding opportunities, collaboration efforts, and the overall perception of the reliability of scientific findings.

It’s imperative that we recognize this issue for what it is: a threat to the fundamental principles of fair representation and informed decision-making. We must come together to address these challenges head-on and ensure that the voice of the people is accurately reflected in our research processes.

Unveiling the Motivations Behind Fraud: ESOMAR Congress 2022

Understanding the motivations behind fraud is a fascinating endeavor. At ESOMAR Congress 2022, our team shared insights gleaned from interviews we conducted with individuals in Venezuela and Bangladesh who engaged in fraudulent survey completion for financial gain. These discussions provided invaluable perspectives.

Watch our interview to discover how a former fraudster managed a virtual device farm, manipulating surveys to earn substantial sums monthly, pocketing over $2,500 US dollars every few weeks. Today, he channels his expertise into combating fraud by lending his expertise to companies looking to intimately understand the myriad of tactics employed by nefarious actors..

In isolation, the amounts may seem insignificant, but when scaled, these individuals exploit vulnerabilities to complete surveys, amassing substantial incentives for themselves repeatedly. Reflecting on the experience. We identified an education gap within the industry. By sharing these interviews, we aimed to bridge that gap and spark change.” This effort catalyzed the Global Data Quality Initiative, uniting leading associations such as the Association for Qualitative Research (AQR), The Canadian Research Insights Council (CRIC), ESOMAR, Insights Association, the QRCA, The Research Society (TRS), SampleCon, and The Association of Market Research Austria (VMÖ).

It’s unprecedented to witness such collaboration across associations, all committed to effecting change. It’s about shifting from problem description to solution activation, a truly empowering shift. We could all benefit by sharing best practices and talking transparently about what the threats are – Rising tides raise all ships.

This revelation underscores the economic disparities that drive individuals to engage in fraudulent activities, especially in developing nations.

So, how are we at InnovateMR addressing this issue?

At InnovateMR, combating fraud is a comprehensive and ongoing endeavor that requires a multifaceted approach. We recognize the critical importance of maintaining the integrity of our data and upholding the trust of our clients and participants. To achieve these goals, we employ a range of strategies and methodologies aimed at detecting, preventing, and mitigating fraud throughout the research process.

It’s multi-layered; it’s truly about education, providing value to the industry by sharing what we’re observing in our testing and research on research. The thing about quality is that it ebbs and flows and evolves over time, just like there are new strains of a virus, there are new behaviors that fraudsters are adopting.

Our approach includes:

  • Leveraging cutting-edge technology: We continuously develop sophisticated algorithms and AI systems to detect and prevent fraud, ensuring the integrity of our data.
  • Collaborating within the industry: Through initiatives like the Market Research Society’s Fair Data scheme, we promote ethical conduct and transparency, fostering a culture of trust and accountability.
  • Adopting a dynamic and proactive approach: We stay ahead of emerging threats by constantly refining our methods and adapting to evolving fraud tactics.
  • Tailoring strategies to specific regions and contexts: Given the global nature of market research, we recognize the importance of understanding regional regulatory frameworks and cultural norms to effectively combat fraud.
  • Investing in continuous innovation: By staying at the forefront of technological advancements, we ensure that our systems are equipped to detect and deter fraudulent activities effectively.
  • Maintaining high standards of integrity and transparency: We are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in all our research practices, ensuring the trust and confidence of our clients and participants.

Ultimately, our commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and ethical conduct guides everything we do at InnovateMR. By implementing robust fraud prevention measures and fostering a culture of trust and accountability, we aim to ensure the integrity of our data and maintain the trust of our clients and participants. Through these collective efforts, we strive to deliver accurate, reliable, and actionable insights that drive informed decision-making and shape a better future for all.

However, we firmly believe that the integrity of research data can be further strengthened through ongoing efforts and advancements, mirroring the continuous improvement that is pursued within our industry. As technology evolves and fraudulent tactics become more sophisticated, we must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing these challenges. By investing in innovative solutions, refining verification processes, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, we can fortify the integrity of polling data and uphold the trust placed in our research. Ultimately, through fostering a culture of ongoing enhancement and shared accountability, we can bolster the dependability and precision of research data. This approach empowers decision-makers with insights that authentically capture the diverse sentiments of the populace.

As CEO of InnovateMR, I believe that by leading with integrity and innovation, we can navigate the battlefield of fraud and continue to drive meaningful insights that empower informed decision-making and shape a better future for all.

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About InnovateMR – InnovateMR is a full-service sampling and ResTech company that delivers faster, quality insights from business and consumer audiences utilizing cutting-edge technologies to support agile research. As industry pioneers, InnovateMR provides world-class end-to-end survey programming, targeted international sampling, qualitative and quantitative insights, and customized consultation services to support informed, data-driven strategies, and identify growth opportunities. Known for their celebrated status in customer service and results, InnovateMR combines boutique-level service with extensive global reach to achieve partner success.