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Romance Scam Statistics – Common Types & How To Stay Safe | #lovescams | #military | #datingscams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating


Key Romance Scam Statistics

  • In 2022, there were 73,000 reported romance scams cases in the US, which is more than double the number of reports filed in 2020.
  • People lost in the US lost $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022, with the median amount being $4,400.
  • In 2021, FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaints Center received reports from almost 25,000 romance scam victims who lost over $950 million.
  • n 2021, romance scams were the second-most prolific type of scam in Canada, with Canadians losing over $41 million to them.
  • In 2022, romance scams made up 29% of all scams carried out in the UK, and the number of romance scams grew 30% compared to the year before.
  • Cryptocurrency schemes were the most lucrative type of romance scams in 2021, and their the victims lost $139 million in crypto romance scams that year.
  • FTC reports that the most common victims of sextortion in romance scams are aged 18-29, as they’re six times more likely to report the crime than people over 30.

Romance Scam Statistics by Region

Bad actors like The Tinder Swindler are praying on the vulnerable in every part of the world, and romance fraud is no exception. While many romance scams originate in Africa, such as Nigeria and Ghana, there are plenty of them in other countries as well.

In this section, we study romance scam statistics in different parts of the world, including the most common types of dating fraud and the financial side of the crimes.

USA & Canada

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The number of reported romance scams in the US has been on the rise since 2017. In 2022, the figure reached 73,000 reported cases, which is more than double the number of reports filed in 2020.

The cumulative amount of reported financial losses resulting from romance scams in the US in 2022 was $1.3 billion, with the median amount being $4,400. These staggering figures demonstrate that financial losses from scams more than doubled since 2021, when consumers lost a total of $547 million to romance scammers in the US.

In terms of reported romance scams by US state, California saw the largest number in 2022 – 9,133, to be precise. Texas and Florida come second and third, with 5,642 and 5,472 cases, respectively. And, as you can see from our infographic, California was also the state with the biggest financial losses from romance scams in 2022, amounting to $193.7 million.

Florida victims bore losses of $85.02 million and Texas was at $80.65 million, according to Statista. Social Catfish stipulates that the average losses per victims in these states were as follows:

  • $72,239 in California
  • $36,276 in Florida
  • $45,338 in Texas

US vs Canada in Romance Statistics

A 2022 study by Social Catfish confirms these three states to be the states with the most romance scams. Vermont had the least amount of reported cases (28), with the fewest losses ($373,468). However, the New England state is in the minority, as it’s one of the only three states (including Wyoming and South Dakota) where romance scam losses were below $1 million in 2022.

The FBI reports from 2021 and 2022 also present a grim picture: the Internet Crimes Complaints Center received reports from almost 25,000 romance scam victims who lost over $950 million. In 2022, the number of victims was 19,021, and they collectively lost over $735 million to romance scams.

For Canada, the statistics are no less devastating. In 2021, romance scams were the second-most prolific scams in Canada, with Canadians losing over $41 million to them. In 2022, the number of romance scams went up 40%, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, and the victims lost over $59 million. The figures for 2023, released recently, suggest that the losses in 2023 amounted to $41 million.

Demographics

Romance scams victims by age group
Source: IC3

Who is the typical victim of a romance scam?

Short answer – it can happen to anybody, regardless of age, gender, and sexual orientation. While it’s true that a significant proportion of victims of romance fraud (32%) are in their 50s and 60s, as you can see from the IC3 pie chart above, they’re far from the only ones.

In fact, FTC reports that the most common victims of sextortion in romance scams are aged 18-29, and they’re six times more likely to report the crime than people over 30.

As for gender, many reports stipulate that both men and women can become victims of romance scams. Statista tells us that, in 2022, there were more male (59%) than female (44%) dating app users in the US that believed they were victims of romance fraud.

UK

UK romance scam statistics
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Romance scammers are also rampant in the UK. In 2021, there were almost 8,000 romance scams reported to Action Fraud. Also, 38% of Brits reported that someone they met online had asked them for money.

What’s more shocking, however, is that 57% of the Brits who were asked for money online sent it, proving how conniving romance scammers can be. These scams resulted in British people losing over £15 million to the fraudsters in the first six months of 2021 alone.

Figures from the UK watchdog Action Fraud are even more devastating: according to them, 2021 saw losses of £95.1 million to romance scams alone.

In 2022, romance scams made up 29% of all scams carried out in the UK, and the number of romance scams grew 30% compared to the year before. Some banks, like TSB and Lloyds, conducted studies of average losses of romance scams in 2022:

  • the average romance scam loss of TSB customers amounted to £6,100
  • the average romance scam loss of Lloyds customers was £8,234

Demographics

Reported romance scams in the UK
Like this infographic? Feel free to use it on your website or blog, but please remember to give us credit by linking back to https://techreport.com/statistics/romance-scam-statistics

Banks’ studies of romance scams in 2023 paint a similar picture. For example, research by Santander tells us that 31% of British people fell victim to a romance scam in 2023. And according to Lloyds, romance scams increased by 22% in 2023, compared to 2022.

Nationwide provides an even more staggering increase of 40% – although this figure specifically relates towards romance scams where the men are the victims. Indeed, British men reported more romance scams (52%) than women in 2023, according to Lloyds. However, women reported higher average losses of £9,083, compared to men’s lower average loss of £5,145.

In terms of age, an Action Fraud report from 2021 stipulates that victims aged 50-59 made up 20% of all romance fraud victims in the UK. People aged 40-49 and 30-39 made up 18% and 17% of victims, respectively.

However, the founders of LoveSaid fraud center said that the youngest romance scam victim they worked with was 16 and the oldest over 80, further proving that all age groups are at risk of romance fraud.

APAC

Leading types of scams in Singapore in 2022
Source: Statista

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region isn’t immune to romance scams either. For example, 2022 saw Australians report almost 3,700 instances of romance fraud to Scamwatch, with total losses of $40.6 million. A lion’s share of these losses ($13 million) was suffered by victims aged 65 and over.

As you can see from the infographic above, other countries are also suffering from romance scams. For instance, Singaporeans reported 868 cases of romance fraud in 2022, and in 2021, that figure exceeded 1,000.

In Hong Kong, law enforcement received 769 complaints in the first half of 2023, and they amounted to $52 million in losses. Many of these reports related to crypto romance scams (more on that later).

Dating App Romance Scams

Number of dating service users worldwide from 2018 to 2028
Source: Statista

In 2023, there were 381.48 million dating services users in the world, and that figure is expected to reach 452.47 million by 2028. With such a huge pool of potential markets, it’s unfortunately no surprise that romance scammers are making millions of dollars.

Studies tell us that 1 in 10 dating profiles is completely fake, and male profiles have a 21% higher chance to be fake than female ones. A lot of these fake profiles are often made with a nefarious purpose of fraud and extortion. 19% of romance scams in the US started on a dating website or an app in 2022, according to the FTC.

However, as we’ll see in the below section, scammers prefer social media to dating apps. That’s because dating services are increasingly introducing verification measures and fraud prevention measures to protect their users.

According to the FTC, social media, rather than dating apps, is the most popular medium to perpetrate romance scams – 40% of victims were pursued via social networks in 2022. And in the UK, over 33% of all romance scams started on Facebook during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2021 study by Social Catfish confirms the popularity of Facebook for romance scams. Since many Facebook users today are aged 50 and above, it’s no surprise they’re one of the biggest target groups for romance fraudsters.

Many scammers also preferred Google Hangouts (Google Chat today), WhatApp, and Telegram, and often asked people they met on dating apps to move the conversation there.

Instagram is another perilous app in terms of romance fraud. Often, scammers steal photos of attractive people and love-bomb their potential victim with compliments. They commonly claim to be deployed overseas or be an oil rig worker and make excuses not to video chat or meet in person.

58% of American victims of romance scams that turned into sextortion named Instagram and Snapchat as the top offenders.

Crypto Romance Scams

Cryptocurrency is the second-most common form of payment demanded by romance scammers, after gift cards, and 19% of all romance scam losses in 2022 were in cryptocurrency. It’s also a common subject of romance scams.

Originally invented in China and known as “pig butchering,” the cryptocurrency romance scam involves building a relationship with a victim before convincing them to get involved in crypto trading. As they invest more and more into a bogus crypto platform, they encounter issues withdrawing the money, and fraudsters disappear by that point, along with the cash invested.

According to the FTC, cryptocurrency schemes were the most lucrative type of romance scams in 2021. With the median loss of $10,000 per consumer, the victims lost $139 million in crypto romance scams that year in total. That accounts for 25.4% of all the money lost to romance scams that year in the US alone.

12% of Americans who used dating apps have been exposed to pig butchering, according to Aura.

These staggering figures are a testament to the damage crypto romance scams can do. As recently as November 2023, the US Department of Justice seized nearly $9 million in Tether cryptocurrency tied to nearly 70 victims of the pig butchering scam perpetrated by an international network of criminals.

Some of the other prolific crypto romance scams are:

  • A former police officer from Atlantic City lost $15,000 to a crypto romance scan on Hinge in 2022. The total amount people had lost to that specific scam is $66 million.
  • A man from San Francisco fell for a large-scale crypto romance scam in 2021, and lost over $1 million.

Military Romance Scams

Most common romance scammer lies
Source: FTC

Another common type of a romance scam is a military romance scam, where fraudsters pose as servicemen and emotionally manipulate their victim to extort money. Lying about being in the military was the third-most popular lie told by romance scammers in 2022.

Many romance scams a few years ago tended to feature one prominent figure from the US military who has no social media presence. And yet, photographs of the four-star general Stephen J. Townsend have been used to attempt to coerce people to give them money – either on Facebook or Tinder.

The scam got so prolific that the US army had to issue an imposter alert:

Of course, Townsend-related scams are far from the only ones. US military gets hundreds of romance scam alerts per month, and America is not the only country where they’re happening. Some of the most harrowing examples are below:

  • A woman in Wisconsin lost $305,000 in a scam perpetrated using Stephen J. Townsend’s persona via Words with Friends.
  • A British woman lost £80,000 in 2020-2021 to a scammer pretending to be serving in the US army in Syria.
  • A woman in Arizona lost her home after a military romance scam in 2021 and has been living in hotels since.

How To Avoid Falling Victim to a Romance Scam

These sobering statistics reveal the hard truth that anyone can fall victim to a romance scam, as the perpetrators are extremely smart and cunning. We at TechReport are conscious of that, which is why we put together this guide to how you can avoid falling for romance fraudsters.

Look Out For These Red Flags

Romance scams payment methods
Source: FTC

A romance fraudster will likely try to build a relationship with you by sending you lots of compliments and moving very fast, even admitting they’re in love after only a few interactions. This is known as “lovebombing” and is a common tactic of abusers and scammers.

Another red flag, especially on dating apps, is them asking to move to other apps like Google Chat or Telegram very quickly – usually because “they hate using dating apps”. Scammers know that dating apps have increasingly strict verification and reporting tools, and using encrypted messaging apps is a way to bypass them.

Following that, scammers often refuse to use video chats or meet in person. Usually, that’s because they spoofed someone else’s attractive photos to get your attention. If that’s the case, run their photos through a reverse image search to see if they are who they say they are.

A big red flag is when fraudsters start asking for things like money. By providing an elaborate scenario, like the ones listed below, they try to convince you to send them money. Common requests include gift cards (24%), cryptocurrency (19%), payment apps (15%) and bank transfers (14%).

Watch Out for These Common Lies

The FTC put together a list of the most common lies told by romance fraudsters. The most common one, told by 24% of scammers is “I’m sick or I’m in jail or someone close to me is.” The military or oil rig lies are also very common, told by 18% and 6% of scammers, respectively.

Other common lies are:

  • “I can teach you to invest,” usually followed by crypto advice and pushing to register for bogus crypto platforms.
  • “Let’s talk about getting married” despite never having met in person.
  • “I need help with an important delivery”, usually followed by requests for money for customs clearance.
  • “I’ve come into some money.”
  • “You can trust me with your pictures,” usually followed by sextortion.

Never Send Money to Strangers

Treat it as a golden rule: never send money to people you’ve met online and never met in person. Often, scammers ask for anonymous payment methods, making it harder for you to recover. So, if someone you met online asks you for money, treat it as a scam.

Don’t Be Fooled by the Promises of Crypto

Dating is no place for investments. If someone on a dating app or social media offers you an investment opportunity or asks you to download some app, treat it as a red flag. Cryptocurrency investments are not a get-rich-quick scheme and require expertise and due diligence if you want to benefit from them properly.

Our Concluding Thoughts

When we dove into the law enforcement reports on romance scams, we were shocked to see the devastating statistics and figures. The horrific stories of people who went through romance scams made it very clear to us that such things can happen to anyone, however savvy you consider yourself to be.

For that reason, we’ve done our best to put together a comprehensive guide to romance scam statistics around the world and the most common types of romance fraud, from social media and dating apps to military romance fraud and pig butchering. We also created a guide to how you can avoid becoming a victim of a romance scam.

It’s our hope that this horrible thing will never happen to you. But if you believe that you’re experiencing romance fraud, remember that this isn’t your fault, and report it to the authorities, such as IC3 and Action Fraud.

Sources:

Click to view sources

  1. Scammers Defraud Victims of Millions of Dollars in New Trend in Romance Scams (FBI)
  2. Romance Scams, Revisited (FBI)
  3. FBI Internal Crime Report, 2022
  4. FBI Internal Crime Report, 2021
  5. 6 key fraud, KYC and AML predictions for 2024 (Experian)
  6. The Future of Fraud: Caught in a Bad Romance (Scam) (Experian)
  7. NEARLY 40 PER CENT OF PEOPLE LOOKING FOR LOVE ONLINE WERE ASKED FOR MONEY (UK Finance)
  8. OVER £1.2 BILLION STOLEN THROUGH FRAUD IN 2022, WITH NEARLY 80 PER CENT OF APP FRAUD CASES STARTING ONLINE (UK Finance)
  9. Number of romance scam cases in the United States in 2022, by state (Statista)
  10. Highest financial losses through romance scams in the United States in 2022, by state (Statista)
  11. Most common lies told by romance scammers in the United States in 2022 (Statista)
  12. Number of reported scams in Australia in 2022, by category (Statista)
  13. Number of reported romance scams in the United States from 2017 to 2022 (Statista)
  14. Number of dating service users worldwide from 2018 to 2028, by segment (Statista)
  15. Leading types of scams in Singapore in 2022, by number of cases (Statista)
  16. Number of cases of internet love scams in Singapore from 2013 to 2022 (Statista)
  17. Share of internet users in the United Kingdom (UK) who had experienced online scam or fraud as of May 2022, by type (Statista)
  18. Share of adults in the United States who think they have encountered scammers on online dating sites or apps as of July 2022, by gender (Statista)
  19. Reports of romance scams hit record highs in 2021 (FTC)
  20. Military consumers and romance scams (FTC)
  21. Romance scammers’ favorite lies exposed (FTC)
  22. New FTC Data Reveals Top Lies Told by Romance Scammers (FTC)
  23. UK consumers lose £580m to fraudsters in first half of 2023, figures reveal (The Guardian)
  24. ‘This is what survivors look like’: the romance fraud victims who want to help others (The Guardian)
  25. Welcome to the Age of Fake Dating Profiles (Basedo)
  26. Fake Online Dating Profiles Statistics [Fresh Research] (Gitnux)
  27. What percentage of online dating profiles are fake? (Sift)
  28. Romance scams in 2024: What you need to know + online dating scam statistics (Norton)
  29. TSB reveals alarming details of romance fraud, which spiked by 91 percent during the pandemic (TSB)
  30. Santander partners with dating expert to warn of the ‘love language’ to look out for as romance scammers hit on a third of Brits (Santander)
  31. Romance fraud losses soar by 73% but many scam victims stay silent, warns Which? (Which?)
  32. Romancing the homme: How scams are rising for men looking for love (Nationwide)
  33. Romance scams rose by a fifth in 2023 (Lloyds Banking Group)
  34. Criminals turn to romance scams as reports soar by 30% (Lloyds)
  35. Online Scammers Won’t Stop Impersonating This Four-Star Army General (Popular Mechanics)
  36. Military Romance Scams (YouTube)
  37. I gave a ‘hero soldier’ I’d never met £80k after he said he loved me – I’ve lost my two sons and husband too (The Sun)
  38. Woman loses $305K after meeting imposter on ‘Words with Friends’ game (TMJ4)
  39. Victim Left Homeless after Military Romance Scam (Social Catfish)
  40. STATES WITH THE MOST & LEAST ROMANCE SCAMS (Social Catfish)
  41. Cyber Scam Organization Disrupted Through Seizure of Nearly $9M in Crypto (US DOJ)
  42. An ex-cop fell for Alice. Then he fell for her $66 million crypto scam. (Washington Post)
  43. A sophisticated criminal network is using modern-day slaves to con thousands of Americans out of their life savings (CNN)
  44. The Pig Butchering Scam: 10 Warning Signs & How To Avoid It (Aura)
  45. How To Spot a Scammer on a Dating Site: 9 Warning Signs (Aura)
  46. These are the top five scams Canadians fell for in 2021 (CTV)
  47. Canadians lost $60 million to romance scams in 2022, says CAFC (CityNews)
  48. RCMP warns Nova Scotians about romance scams (RCMP)
  49. Romance fraud alert as reports up almost 60% (BBC)
  50. DATING & ROMANCE SCAMS (ScamWatch Australia)
  51. Crypto romance scams surge to $52m in Hong Kong (DLNews)
  52. Australian authorities arrest three in alleged romance scam (Comply Advantage)

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