Online consumer fraud is a problem with significant consequences. While a substantial body of research examines the strategies used to defraud consumers in online environments, little is known about the decision processes that perpetrators follow before engaging in fraud. To address this issue, we develop an ethical decision-making model of online consumer fraud based on the fraud diamond. The model also includes anonymity, a key feature of online environments, which can influence sellers' ethical decision-making processes. We empirically evaluate the model first by asking participants to consider the misrepresentation of an asset's value in an online transaction, and then by having participants engage in a real-life version of that scenario. Results indicate that perceived anonymity affects the influences of capability, opportunity, and motivation on rationalization. Further, greater perceived anonymity increases the influence of rationalization on one's intent to act.

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