TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A recent report from socialcatfish.com says more than 32,700 Americans fell victims to online romance scams in 2020.
And that’s not all. According to the report, the victims’ financial losses accumulated to a record $304 million.
Social Catfish says the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented 51% annual increase in online romance scams last year due to lonliness and isolation, the surge in dating app usage, and the perfect excuse used by scammer as to why they could not meet in person.
Below are some of the key findings in the report:
- $304 million lost in 2020 is up 51% from $201 million in 2019, and 305% from $75 million lost in 2016.
- 32,792 reported victims in 2020 is up 30% from 25,113 in 2019, and 191% from 25,113 victims in 2016.
- Global dating app revenue broke records in 2020, eclipsing $3 billion for the first time.
As a precaution for those using online dating apps, Social Catfish says the following are five signs that you are being catfished, so that you can avoid falling victim to these scams.
1. When someone cannot meet in person because they “work” overseas. If the person expressing love for you is unable to meet in person, consider that a giant red flag.
2. When someone will not video-chat. Do not form too much of a connection until you at least speak to them over video. There is a multitude of free platforms such as Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom they can use.
3. When someone asks you for money or financial information. Never give money or personal information to anyone you meet online.
4. When someone uses poor grammar. The FBI has flagged Nigeria as a hotbed or romance scammer activity. Nigerian romance scammers are infamous for saying how much they love you and sending you poems, however, there will be many grammatical errors.
5. When a random connection tries to chat on social media. Avoid invites from people you do not know if you have no mutual connections. Carefully consider whom you add to your online network.