LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada was the 22nd-most targeted state in “romance scams” in 2020, according to a new study.
Data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FTC shows that 362 victims in Nevada lost just over $6 million in the scams, which prey on people looking for love.
“Romance scammers will go to the lengths of pretending to fall in love with you in order to drain your bank account,” according to Social Catfish, the website that authored the study. “In 2020, a record-breaking $304 million was lost in the United States due to romance scams. It has risen up to 50% since 2019, showing that the rate of romance scams has increased significantly due to the coronavirus.”
California was far-and-away the most-targeted state nationwide, with Texas, Florida, Michigan and New York rounding out the top five.
Top 5 most-targeted states:
- California: 3,110 victims, $120M lost
- Texas: 1,602 victims, $42.1M
- Florida: 1,603 victims, $40.1M
- Michigan: 572 victims, $28.6M
- New York: 1,103 victims, $26.2M
“Romance scams are worsening despite government warnings, an MTV reality series, an NFL victim, and someone pretending to be Bruno Mars tricking a victim out of $100,000,” according to Social Catfish.
And with record use of dating apps — revenue exceeded $3 billion for the first time in 2020 — scammers are using the opportunity to prey on isolated victims during the pandemic.
Five 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 in identity fraud.
- Take things slow: If you like someone online, do not let them rush you.
- Meet or video chat: Do not form a relationship with someone who will not video chat with you or meet you in person.
- 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.
If you believe you have been contacted by a romance scammer report it to the FTC.