INDIANAPOLIS — In 2022, nearly 70,000 Americans took a chance on love and wound up burned: another victim in the ever-growing romance scams that target the already vulnerable lonely heart.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost a record $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022. A 138% increase from the $547 million swindled in 2021.
The FTC said the median reported loss was $4,400.
Taking FTC and FBI data, Social Catfish crunched the numbers and broke down these historic scams state by state.
No state was spared being victim to romance scams with California hit hardest in both number of victims and total money lost.
Indiana placed 18th with 264 romance scam victims in 2022. Hoosiers were swindled out of a combined $9.6 million. On average, that is a loss of more than $36,000 per victim.
Romance scams were up 8.4% in Indiana in 2022 compared to 2021.
Romance scams are considered the number one type of fraud in the United States, according to the FTC.
Romance scams often take various forms with recent popular scams including scammers impersonating celebrities on social media or scammers pretending to be military personnel who are stationed overseas.
Social Catfish reported another popular 2023 romance scam is when the fraudsters pretend to have gotten rich in cryptocurrency and convince their love-struck targets to also invest by sending them a link to download an app. The fake app will even display data as if showing a return on your investment, Social Catfish reported.
Cryptocurrency was the top form of payment used in romance scams in 2022 at 34% followed by bank wire transfer payments at 27%. Other popular payment methods used in romance scams are gift cards or sending money via payment apps such as PayPal or Venmo.
The FTC said the most common lie used in romance scams is the scammer pretending that they or someone close to them is sick, hurt, or in jail and need money to help them out of the situation.
Other popular lies used by romance scammers include telling victims they can teach them how to invest, telling victims they are in the military and far away, telling victims they need help with an important delivery, or telling victims they’ve recently come into money or gold.
The FTC warned about sending explicit photos to potential romantic partners as scammers often use these photos to then extort victims for payment. Most sextortion reports originate on Instagram and Snapchat, according to the FTC.
Social Catfish offers a reverse image search that lets wary online suitors search their match’s photographs to ensure their potential romantic match is who they say they are.
Other tips offered to avoid romance scams:
- Be wary about sending money to anyone you have not met in person.
- Be wary of messages or emails from people you don’t know as scammers often initiate contact out of the blue and quickly flatter or profess their love.
- Research online romantic matches thoroughly by using search engines and social media. Be cautious if no information is found.
- Be wary of any potential partner who avoids meeting face-to-face.
- Trust your instincts. Often things that feel too good to be true are exactly that.
- Use reputable and trustworthy dating sites and be cautious of anyone who asks you to use another website or app to continue communicating with them. Many scammers reported asked victims to move to WhatsApp, Google Chat, or Telegram to continue communication.
If you have found yourself victim to a romance scam, cease all communications with the scammer and file a report with your local law enforcement agency. Report scammers and suspicious profiles to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
If someone is trying to extort you, report it to the FBI.