A new study shows Washington is the fifth most catfished state in the U.S., with 657 victims losing a record $32 million in 2021, up from $15 million in 2020, according to Social Catfish, an online dating investigation service based in California.
Despite widespread warnings and shows like “Tinder Swindler” on Netflix raising public awareness, romance scams have become the most common type of fraud recorded by the Federal Trade Commission, with victims losing $1.5 billion in the last five years, according to the study.
SocialCatfish.com released a study on the Most Catfished States in 2021 on Thursday, using FBI and FTC data released in March and February 2022.
The study shows the average victim in Washington lost $48,644 last year.
The top four states whose residents lost the most to catfishing scams, with Washington coming in at #5, are:
- California, with $184 million stolen.
- Florida, with $70 million stolen.
- Texas, with $65 million stolen.
- New York, with $58 million stolen.
The bottom five places in the U.S. are:
- Arkansas, with $1.2 million stolen.
- New Hampshire, with $1 million stolen.
- District of Columbia, with $861,723 stolen.
- Vermont, with $528,709 stolen.
- Maine, with $386,894 stolen.
The study said that among romance scammers’ new tactics are money laundering and cryptocurrency investments.
Social Catfish said there are five new romance scams in 2022 including:
Money mules: Victims are tricked into money laundering when the scammer says they need to wire money overseas to a family member in trouble, but there is an issue with their bank.
CryptoRom: Scammers convince the victim to invest in a bogus cryptocurrency app.
Teens targeted on TikTok: Though teens may be tech-savvy, young people are not always savvy in love. Social Catfish says teens lost a record $101 million to romance scams in 2021.
Social media influencers: Scammers impersonate a successful influencer and engage in romance scams.
Gift card scams: It’s a standard romance scam but instead of asking for money, which could be traced to a bank account, they ask for gift cards, which cannot be traced.
For more information on these scams and how to avoid them, visit SocialCatfish.com.
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