States with the Highest Catfishing Rates – 2019

As we approach Valentine's Day, many singles will either be swiping on dating apps or pondering if they should join. Every online dater runs the risk of connecting with a fake profile, also known as catfishing. Often these fake profiles seek to build an online relationship with their victim, gaining their trust and virtual affection only to defraud them of hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a particularly cruel crime that preys on those hoping to find a connection amongst thousands of profiles.

Thousands are catfished every year

In 2017, there were 15,372 people who reported the crime to the authorities. Those victims lost a combined total of $211.3 million. It is the 11th most popular cybercrime and the second costliest.

We wanted to know which states had the biggest problems with catfishing. We pulled numbers from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center annual report.

total number of catfishing victims per state

State by state breakdown

The states with the most catfishing victims were:

  1. California (1,761)
  2. Texas (1,089)
  3. Florida (1,085)
  4. New York (674)
  5. Pennsylvania (511)

Since these are states with high populations we decided to figure the amounts per capita. The list drastically changes:

  1. Nevada (9.7)
  2. Alaska (8.2)
  3. New Mexico (7.3)
  4. Washington (7)
  5. Wyoming (7)
BestVPN Heat map Per Capita

Catfishing is a costly crime

Nationally, Americans lost hundreds of millions of dollars in catfishing schemes. California had the most money handed over to romance scammers. Victims lost $31.6 million. In Texas, $23.4 million was lost, followed by Florida ($13.1 million), New York ($9.9 million) and Georgia ($9.9 million).

Heat map-losses-per state

Catfishing continues to scam more victims

Despite a rise in awareness from news reports and the MTV show, Catfish, the numbers continue to rise. Romance scams saw a 5.5 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 and a 15 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. The amount of money victims are losing is on the rise too.

Women over 40 are more likely to fall victim to a romance scheme. In 2014, they accounted for 79 percent of the total losses for catfishing schemes, followed by men over 40 at 15.8 percent. The FBI reported scammers often stole profiles from American service members to lure women.  

Methodology

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center releases an annual report detailing online crimes and money lost. State by state comparisons are from the 2017 report. In this report, the FBI refers to catfishing schemes as ‘confidence/romance fraud.’ In their total numbers, the FBI includes Puerto Rico and the outlying islands, which was omitted in our state by state analysis.  Per capita was figured by taking the number of crimes reported in the state, dividing it by the population provided by the U.S. Census in July of 2017 and multiplying it by 100,000. It should be noted these numbers are only people who reported the crime to authorities. The true numbers are likely quite higher as many victims are too ashamed and embarrassed to come forward.

Alex Grant
 

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