LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Romance scams in 2021 victimized people in Nevada more than any state in the U.S. except North Dakota, according to data released by the FBI and the FTC.
Nationwide, the scams collected $547 million from Americans in 2021.
In Nevada, 352 victims reported losses of $15,095,654. That amounted to $486,233 for every 100,000 people in the state. Only North Dakota was higher, at $1,558,064 per 100,000 population.
The Top 5 states were rounded out by Alaska ($481,601), California ($465,191) and Colorado ($424,214).
Nationwide, the total stolen in 2021 was up nearly 80% from 2020, when $304 million was stolen.
Sgt. Beth Schmidt of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Financial Crimes Section said earlier this month that Metro sees examples of these romance scams all the time. She said it’s important to report them, and people shouldn’t be silent because they are embarrassed.
Socialcatfish.com listed five new romance scams that have been circulating in 2022
- Money Mules: More romance scam victims are being tricked into money laundering and facing prosecution. Never provide your bank account number or routing number to someone you meet online offering to send you money via wire transfers.
- CryptoRom: Cryptocurrency-related romance scams accounted for the largest losses in 2021 — $139 million — by convincing victims to invest in a bogus crypto app. Never invest money with anyone you meet online. If you want to invest in Crypto, use well-known apps like Crypto.com, Coinbase and PayPal.
- Teens Targeted on TikTok: Teens lost a record $101 million to romance scams in 2021. With social development hampered by COVID-19 in recent years, romance scammers are increasing their presence on social media sites like TikTok and Instagram. Teens should never send money or give personal information to anyone they have not met in person. Parents need to talk to their children and vice versa as romance scams now impact every generation in the family.
- Social Media Influencers: A third of romance scams originated on Facebook or Instagram in 2021. Scammers create fake profiles, often stealing the likeness of a successful influencer. A survey conducted by Social Catfish found that 86% of influencers have seen an increase in fake profiles since the pandemic began. Do a reverse image search to confirm if the person in the photos goes by the same name as the person who friend requested you on social media.
- Gift Card Scams: Victims sent $36 million in gift cards to scammers in 2021, the No. 1 payment method. This is the standard romance scam but instead of asking for money, they ask for gift cards that are untraceable. If your online love interest asks for a gift card, it’s a huge red flag.