February 8, 2024

Welp, it’s catfishing season, only we’re talking about dating

Therese Apel

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

recent study shows singles looking for love online this Valentine’s Day should be on high alert. Americans lost a record $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022, up from $547 million. Mississippi ranks No. 42 in the nation with 90 victims losing $1.9 million to romance scams.

The financial devastation is expected to reach new heights this year as scammers flood dating apps and social media to prey on lonely singles, leaving them heartbroken and penniless. Scammers have grown increasingly sophisticated using new technology and cryptocurrency was the No. 1 payment method accounting for 34% of all scams.

Social Catfish — a company that performs reverse image searches to verify online identities — released a study on the State of Romance Scams in America using 2023 data from FBI and FTC.

The 10 states most at-risk for romance scams are California ($158 million lost), Texas ($60.3 million), Florida ($53.4 million), New York ($33.5 million), Arizona ($25.4 million), Virginia ($24.8 million), Washington ($21.1 million), Ohio ($20.4 million), North Carolina ($18 million), and Illinois $17.7 million).

5 SIGNS YOUR ONLINE VALENTINE IS REALLY A ROMANCE SCAMMER

1)      They Ask for Money in Gift Cards or Crypto: Scammers claim to have an emergency and ask for money in the form of crypto or gift cards, which are harder to trace.

How to Avoid: Do not send money, crypto or gift cards to anyone you meet online.

2)      They Are Too Attractive and Successful:  Scammers steal photos of attractive people to set up fake profiles. When things seem too good to be true, they usually are.  

How to Avoid: Perform a reverse image search to verify their identity.

3)      Will Not Meet or Video Chat:  If the person keeps making excuses as to why they cannot video chat or meet it is a scam.

How to Avoid: Stop communicating with them.

4)      Serve in the Military or Live Overseas: Scammers often claim that they serve in the military or live overseas. This offers a built-in excuse as to why they cannot meet.

How to Avoid: These are telltale signs you are chatting with a scammer.

5)      Poor Grammar: Most romance scammers live in Nigeria, and while they speak English, their written grammar is generally poor.

How to Avoid: This is a huge red flag, do not send them money.

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