Preventing fraud via mobile phone interactive narrative games in Uganda

Last registered on November 17, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Preventing fraud via mobile phone interactive narrative games in Uganda
Initial registration date
November 07, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 17, 2023, 7:43 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Universidad del PacĂ­fico

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Fair Finance

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Third-party fraud generates significant individual and social welfare loss, especially in low-income countries such as Uganda. However, most fraud prevention communications are packaged as public service announcements and fail to provide consumers with the skills to recognize and respond to fraud. This study seeks to create fraud prevention capabilities via IVR-based narrative games. We will randomize 20,000 users into control and treatment groups. The treatment participants will be encouraged to play an interactive narrative game in which they must navigate how avoid fraud (but still discern legitimate actors), unlocking levels as they go. A second-level randomization of the treatment group will evaluate the importance of IVR reinforcement messages for sustaining or enhancing impact. Fraud victimization and a fraud prevention capability index will be measured one-month and nine months after the intervention, while administrative data will be collected to compare use of fraud reporting and SIM verification tools.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bird, Matthew and Rafe Mazer. 2023. "Preventing fraud via mobile phone interactive narrative games in Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. November 17.
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Experimental Details


This randomized trial will evaluate the impact of a scalable, interactive narrative edutainment intervention on how consumers in Uganda recognize and respond to fraud attempts. Users will have already registered for the Viamo 3-2-1 Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) platform. Users are invited on the platform to participate in the study. Those who provided consent completed a short baseline survey. These users will be randomized into control and treatment groups. The treatment will have the opportunity to play the interactive narrative or Wanji game, with the chance to earn incentives as they complete the game. The content is designed to simulate the experience of receiving a call and decide how to recognize fraud and what to do during and after. To better communicate fraud prevention skills, the heuristics are communicated via a guiding metaphor: Preventing fraud is like crossing the street. Stop, check to verify it is safe, and then act. According to Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), metaphors can enhance understanding by mapping knowledge onto an existing easy-to-understand cognitive frame.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
a. Fraud prevention capability index
b. Fraud victimization
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
a. Fraud prevention capability index: Constructed as a z-score average of up to 10 knowledge, attitude, intention and behavioral variables. Knowledge includes knowledge of how to recognize a fraudster, how to respond, and where to report. Attitudes include self-efficacy in fraud prevention domain. Behavioral intention would capture the likelihood of reporting fraud attempts and whether a PIN is shared.

b. Fraud victimization: Self-reported binary measure of whether (a) provided personal information or (b) lost money to fraudsters in a previously specified time period.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
a. Complaints registered
b. SIM verification check
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
a. Complaints registered: Whether the individual registered a complaint with the mobile network operator for (a) fraud or (b) non-fraud issue during the study time period.

b. SIM verification check: Whether the individual verified their SIM card with the regulator's service during the study time period.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
To estimate the impact of the interactive narrative or Wanji game, we will conduct an individual-level block randomization. Randomization strata will be created based on language (Luganda, 4R, English), sex (male, female), and age (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, over 44) resulting in 24 blocks. Individuals will then be randomized within each strata into equal-sized control and treatment groups. The Wanji treatment will then be exposed to the treatment until take-up exceeds at least more than 50% or for five months.

Several strategies will be used to ensure intervention take-up: (i) treatment callers have the option of listening to the Wanji game or accessing other platform content in the opening menu, (ii) users will receive an incentive for completing each of the game's two levels, and (iii) weekly SMS encouragements will be sent to individuals. The minimum take-up target is 50%.

Roughly one month after the Wanji treatment ends, IVR reinforcement messages will be sent. To estimate the impact of the IVR reinforcement messages, we will conduct a second-level randomization of treatment group members. The same block randomization will be used as that for the first level to assign individuals into equal-sized control and IVR reinforcement treatment groups.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was conducted using the randomize command in STATA 17.
Randomization Unit
Individual users
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Clusters were not used.
Sample size: planned number of observations
22,495 platform users
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
11,247 individual users control
11,248 individual users treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Sample and power calculations were estimated for outcomes with binary and continuous variables. Various parameters and sensitivity tests were considered for take-up, attrition, baseline and number of follow up surveys, and multiple hypothesis correction. In the most conservative estimate, to detect a MDE of 0.20 SD, assuming 40% take up, an attrition of 50% between the baseline and first follow up, an attrition of 60% between the first and second follow ups, and adjustment for multiple hypothesis testing for up to three outcomes, the sample size needed at baseline is 19,563. Power increases and/or sample size requirements decrease for a MDE of 0.20 SD with the relaxation of any of these parameters.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Mildmay Uganda REC
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number