A new poll of 3,047 romance scam victims – the largest ever conducted — found that 75% are college educated and 13% have graduate degrees showing scammers have grown increasingly savvy.
— an announcement from Social Catfish
Connecticut is the No. 22 most-scammed state with 4,524 victims losing an unprecedented $75,739,646 last year.
When someone is ‘Catfished’ people tend to think, “Well, that person must not be smart,” but many highly educated people are being left heartbroken and penniless.
Social Catfish — a company that verifies online identities with reverse search — released the results as part of its study on the State of Internet Scams 2022 using data from the FBI IC3 and the Federal Trade Commission.
Among the findings, woman, middle-and lower-income Americans, and young people of color are increasingly being targeted.
Key Poll Results
• Money Lost to Online Scams Has Doubled Since COVID-19: A record $6.9 billion was lost to online scams in 2021 according to the 2021 FBI Internet Crime Report (also known as “IC3”). This is up nearly double from $3.5 billion in 2019 before the global pandemic started in 2020.
• The number of victims also jumped from 467,361 in 2019 to 847,376 last year. Scammers have grown increasingly sophisticated to capitalize on people working, shopping and dating online.
• 84% of Victims are Middle or Lower Class: 44% of victims make less than $100,000 and an additional 40% make less than $40,000 per year.
• Young People of Color Hit Hard: White victims are largely middle-aged and elderly, but 13% of victims of color were under the age of 40, compared to just 4% of white victims.
• 78% of victims are female.
• 35% said their scam originated on a dating app and 27% said it started on Facebook.
10% of victims lost more than $100,000 and 4% lost more than $200,000.
• Tech-Savvy Teens and Children See Largest Increase in Money Lost: From 2017-2021, victims under 20 have seen a 1,126% increase in money lost to online scams, marking the highest increase of any age group over the five-year period according to the 2021 FBI Internet Crime Report. This is surprising considering the fact that young people are considered to be more tech-savvy than older generations. This alarming trend may be because 54% of U.S. households polled by Social Catfish do not monitor their children’s activities online, leaving them vulnerable to Internet risks.
The poll was conducted from May to August 2022 by email. Respondents are all past romance scam victims and current Social Catfish reverse search subscribers.
Tips to Avoid Romance Scams: Never give money or personal information to anyone you have not met in person and perform a reverse search to verify online identities.
SIDEBAR: More Advice on Avoiding Romance Scams
How can you avoid romance scams? Here’s some advice from the Federal Trade Commission:
• Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
• Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Check the person’s photo using your search engine’s “search by image” feature. If the same picture shows up with a different name, that’s a red flag.
• Talk to someone about this new love interest. And pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
• If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away. Then, report to the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the dating site where you met the scammer, too.