HOUSTON – Texas was the No. 2 most catfished state in 2020, according to a new study.
The study by SocialCatish.com found that 1,602 victims lost more than $42.1 million to romance scammers.
In total, Americans lost a record $304 million in 2020, up more than $100 million from the previous year.
California came in first with 3,100 victims losing $120 million. While Florida and Michigan followed in third and fourth respectively.
The least targeted catfished states are Wyoming, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Vermont, according to the study.
SocialCatish.com based the study on the most catfished states in 2020 on data the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FTC released in March and February of 2021.
The study found there was a surge in the use of dating apps, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which created an unprecedented opportunity for scammers to prey on isolated and lonely victims.
5 Tips to Avoid Being Catfished:
- Never Give Money or Personal Information: Do not give anyone you meet online money, no matter the reason. Do not even give basic information which scammers use to identity fraud, get access to your banks and steal your money.
- Take Things Slow: If you like someone online, do not let them rush you. Nigerian romance scammers will be pushy about falling in love right away. If that is the case, know something is not right.
- Meet or Video Chat: Do not form a relationship with someone who will not video chat with you or meet you in person. A common scam is to say they cannot meet because they work overseas or are in the military stationed elsewhere, these are big red flags.
- Reverse Search: Scammers steal photos from good-looking people on social media and pretend to be them. Use reverse search platforms that can confirm the identity of someone using a photo, email or phone number.
- Be Aware on All Platforms: Scammers are not just on dating apps, they are contacting people in 2021 on Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn. Be careful on all platforms.