Falling in love can be hard.
It’s always been challenging to meet that one other person that you simply connect with.
The latest research from Psychology Today suggests that roughly half the adult population has difficulty in romantic relationships and spends a large proportion of their time being single.
Today, there is more help than ever available for those looking for love.
The most obvious assistance can be found with dating apps.
There are currently over 1,500 dating apps, covering a huge array of situations.
This includes people looking for love, one-night stands, and even just a friend.
Statista estimates there will be 440 million people looking for love via a dating app by 2027.
Unfortunately, as you’re about to discover from the following romance scam statistics, not everyone on a dating app is looking for love, romance, or even a partner.
- US victims of romance scams lost $1.3 billion in 2022
- Over $50 million was lost by canadian victims in 2021
- The majority of romance scams start on social media
- Over 65s are most likely to be victims of romance scams
- Scammers are becoming increasingly subtle in their targeting efforts
- Gift cards are a popular payment method
- The most popular scam story is about a loved one
- 63% of social media users have been the victim of a romance scam
- Over $425 million has been lost to crypto romance scams
- Victims will commonly mourn the relationship more than the money
- Romance scams can be very sophisticated
- 27% of online dating users have been catfished
How Romance Scams Happen
Scammers are always coming up with new and creative ways to get your money.
Romance scams are a very popular option as you’re emotionally vulnerable.
If a scammer can appear to connect with you on an emotional level they are more likely to complete a successful scam.
Some scammers set up fake dating sites.
They appear to be legitimate and usually have a lot of members already.
This encourages you to sign up and find a match.
Unfortunately, the members are not real, the scammer simply wants your information so that they can sell it or use it to steal your identity.
In some cases, they may even charge for a VIP area of the site, taking your money and giving you access to fake members.
One of the most popular scams at the moment is for a scammer to connect with their target by saying all the right things.
Then, when they are ready they will ask for intimate photos.
They may offer to exchange but you’ll simply get a stock photo.
In most cases, the scammer will sell your photos online.
However, they can use them to blackmail you.
Another popular romance scam is for the scammer to create a fake persona and build a connection with you.
The aim is for you to fall in love.
The scammer can then tell you about an illness they or a loved one has and how they need help with the operation costs.
In many cases, the member will happily contribute as they are falling in love.
Of course, they never hear from the scammer again.
That’s only a few of the possible scams.
Learning how they work and the statistics relating to romance scams means you’ll be better prepared to avoid them and find real love.
Let’s take a look at the top statistics:
Top Romance Scams Statistics
1. US Victims Of Romance Scams Lost $1.3 Billion In 2022
The US leads the way in many fields.
Unfortunately, this is also true when it comes to romance scams.
This may be due to the increasingly digital lifestyle of the average American.
It could also be as a result of long working hours and minimal time to find that special someone.
Whatever the reason, scammers are targeting Americans more than any other nation.
According to the FTC statistics over $1.3 billion was given to scammers by victims in 2022.
Interestingly, this was roughly the same amount as in 2021, but a huge 78% more than in 2020.
It’s possible scammers found it more difficult to connect to victims during the pandemic.
Of course, many victims don’t report a romance scam.
This can be because the amount is comparatively small, or because they are too embarrassed to report it.
In other words, the actual amount lost to scammers is likely to be significantly higher.
(Federal Trade Commission)
2. Over $50 Million Was Lost by Canadian Victims In 2021
The US is leading the field with regard to the number of romantic scam victims.
But, it’s not the only country being targeted.
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, there were 1,249 romance scam complaints in 2021.
In 2019 that figure was just 900.
The force calculated a loss of $50 million to romance scammers.
That’s approximately $50,000 per scam!
Again, the real figures could be significantly higher as many people won’t report being scammed.
This problem affects countries all over the world.
After all, everyone wants to enjoy some romance.
For example, Australian figures reveal that a total of $40.6 million was lost to romance scams in 2022.
The number of reported victims was close to 4,000.
It’s worth noting that investment scams are still a far more serious issue in Australia. T
hey currently total $377 million in losses in 2022 and over 9,000 victims.
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police)
3. The Majority Of Romance Scams Start On Social Media
This isn’t a surprising statistic. While a romance scam can start anywhere, the easiest way to contact a stranger is via the internet.
The sheer number of dating apps make this an easy starting point.
However, what will surprise you is that many scams don’t start on dating apps.
Social media is the more popular option for scammers.
Don’t forget, scammers like to play the long game. They are happy to become your friend and build a connection with you.
Emotional ties make it significantly easier for a scammer to ask for money without raising suspicion.
The best scammers will simply place the idea in your head, allowing you to offer the money.
According to the data, 13,000 victims in Australia were contacted via social media.
In the US, that figure rises to nearly 163,000 people.
4. Over 65s Are Most Likely To Be Victims Of Romance Scams
Romance scammers will target anyone in a bid to generate funds.
Of course, it’s easier to create a victim if they are vulnerable and over 65s are often the most vulnerable.
After all, most people want romance in their life and, the older you get, the more you’re likely to fear dying alone.
That makes you more likely to suspend doubt and fall for the scammer.
Of course, it helps that many people over 65 have spare funds.
That’s usually money they have set aside for retirement.
That’s why this age group generally loses the most to romantic scammers.
The following will help to put this into perspective.
In 2022, less than 1,000 people under the age of 18 reported a romance scam and they lost no funds.
In the same year, nearly 50,000 people over the age of 65 reported a romance scam.
Between them, they lost $120 million.
5. Scammers Are Becoming Increasingly Subtle In Their Targeting Efforts
As awareness of romance scams increases, people are becoming warrier about online romances.
This has led to scammers taking more unorthodox approaches.
While dating apps are still a popular and obvious choice, many scammers are using alternate apps, such as Google Hangouts to start communicating with potential victims.
Online games, such as Scrabble have also become a popular way to reach potential victims.
For the scammer, this can be effective as these people aren’t looking for romance and will be less guarded against romance scams.
The aim of all romance scammers is to earn your trust before asking for money.
That’s easier if you appear to have a connection via similar online interests.
One of the most popular platforms for romance scammers is Plenty of Fish with 230 reports from victims and an estimated $714,000 given away.
Google Hangouts is also popular. It had 142 complaints with losses of $641,000.
That’s the figures for Australia, the numbers are a lot higher for the US.
6. Gift Cards Are A Popular Payment Method
Scammers will take money in any way they can. However, if possible they prefer to make it as difficult to trace as possible.
That’s why many of them like gift cards.
It’s hard to track a gift card, especially if the scammer doesn’t spend any of the money.
To minimize the risk of detection the scammer will often sell the gift card, giving themselves cash which can’t be traced.
Of course, this isn’t the only option for scammers. Many take payment by bank transfer and even via cryptocurrency.
Although these transactions are potentially easier to trace, scammers generally get more money when victims transfer funds directly into their accounts or pay with a cryptocurrency.
The figures show that 24% of scams are paid via gift card, versus 14% by bank transfer, and 19% by cryptocurrency.
7. The Most Popular Scam Story Is About A Loved One
A scammer needs to create an emotional connection with you if they are going to convince you to give them money.
This generally starts by listening to you a lot, showing empathy, and appearing to have similar likes.
Once the connection is made they need to ask for money.
In many cases they will tell you a sad story and suggest money can fix it, but that they don’t have enough.
The hope is that you’ll offer and they won’t even have to ask for the money.
According to the FTC, in 2022 the most common sad story was a loved one is sick and needs an operation, or is hurt and needs hospital care, or is in jail for something they didn’t do and needs bail.
24% of stories fall into this category. It’s surprising how often this approach works.
Naturally, it’s not the only story you’ll hear.
18% of stories are either offering help with investment or that they are in the military far away and need a little extra.
Other common stories include needing help with a special delivery or coming into money and needing help to claim it.
Just 3% of romance scams asked for private pictures.
These scams aren’t necessarily the most lucrative but they can be the most embarrassing.
8. 63% Of Social Media Users Have Been The Victim Of A Romance Scam
Most romance scams start on social media as people are more likely to have their guard down.
Surprisingly, fraudsters prefer to avoid dating apps where possible!
Studies have shown that this is the case around the globe.
The average across the planet is that 63% of social media users have been the victim of at least one romance scam.
To illustrate the point further, the studies show that just 3% of the general population, those who don’t use social media, have become victims of a romance scam.
Of course, it could be argued that with 4.48 billion social media users, there’s a larger percentage of the planet on social media than off it.
Unfortunately, middle-aged women are more likely to fall victim to a scam than men.
Studies have shown this is likely connected to higher levels of neuroticism and a tendency to idealize romance. This leads to impulsive decisions, they aren’t always the best decisions.
Interestingly, across the general population men and women have roughly the same risk of falling victim to a romance scam.
50.3% of victims are women and 47.2% male. The remaining 2.4% chose not to commit to a gender.
9. Over $425 Million Has Been Lost To Crypto Romance Scams
Fraudsters are constantly looking for the best way to extract funds from people and leave as little trail as possible.
Cryptocurrency is more difficult to trace than bank transfers, making it an attractive option.
In fact, crypto romance scams have become so popular they are now recognized as a category of their own.
You may like to know that crypto romance scams were originally called ‘sha zhu pan’ in Chinese.
This means pig butchering and refers to the ‘fattening’ of a target with compliments before the butchering by taking their funds.
According to the FBI, 4,325 people were victims of this type of romance scam in 2021.
Scammers managed to get $429 million from these victims, averaging $99,190 from each victim!
The figures regarding crypto romance scams are increasing every year.
It’s estimated the value of these types of scams was five times higher in 2021 than in 2020.
Across the globe, the average loss per crypto romance scam is $10,000.
That’s a significant amount for most people.
10. Victims Will Commonly Mourn The Relationship More Than The Money
In 2015 a study conducted by Sage Journals discovered that over 50% of romance scam victims were more upset about the relationship ending than losing the money.
This study has been backed up by further ones, such as the 2022 DR Press study.
For the scammer, provided they end the relationship properly, there is virtually no chance of the scam being reported.
The studies found that mourning the relationship was a common way to deny they had been defrauded.
Unfortunately, this means they are more vulnerable to the fraudster returning and asking for more.
In addition, it was found that some victims will even try to find the person whose image was used, believing the relationship was genuine.
Of course, this means they don’t recognize they have been the victim and are much more likely to experience romance scams in the future.
11. Romance Scams Can Be Very Sophisticated
Romance scammers know that they have to tread a fine line.
The more believable their story the easier it will be to get their hands on your money.
Simply chatting with you isn’t enough.
Romance scammers will generally create multiple social media accounts with the best-known sites.
That means Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
They’ll also have a bank and other professional sites that convince you they are genuine.
Alongside this, they are likely to work with a couple of partners.
The partners can pose as additional roles, such as a lawyer, business partner, or some other necessary person.
Throughout all of the charades, the aim is the same, to convince you they are genuine and your money will be safe with them.
12. 27% Of Online Dating Users Have Been Catfished
You’ve probably heard of catfishing. It’s when someone pretends to be someone else.
It’s surprisingly common on dating apps.
People use it to meet others without any risk of partners finding out.
It’s also commonly used by scammers to create a believable, but untraceable, persona.
They can then ask for your funds with minimal risk of any funds being traced.
According to a study by UK Finance 27% of people on dating sites have been catfished within the last 12 months.
It’s a growing issue. The study found that 21% of those who had been catfished were asked for money by the person.
It didn’t disclose how many people paid money to their scammer.
Signs Of A Romance Scam
To protect yourself from a romance scam and avoid becoming one of the romance scam statistics, you simply need to be aware of the common signs.
If you’re experiencing any of the following it’s time to end the relationship and find someone else to connect with.
Romance Develops Very Quickly
If you’re looking for romance you’ll be happy for a relationship to move quickly, if they seem to be the right partner.
However, if you’re constantly getting attention and affection, making plans for the future, and your new love interest is in constant contact with you, then be wary.
It’s highly likely that the whirlwind romance is simply to get you to drop your guard before they take your money.
They Seem Perfect
No one is perfect. But that’s okay.
It’s our flaws that make us unique and help to build attraction! If you’re dating someone who says all the right things, loves everything you do, and generally seems the perfect match, proceed with caution.
While it’s possible you could have found that perfect someone for you, it’s much more likely that they are simply scamming you.
Think about the information about you that is available online and then test them with something you don’t share online.
You’ll quickly see how perfect they really are.
You Never See Them Live
A romantic interest who is happy to send you pictures and arrange to meet, but never actually does meet with you, is likely to be a scammer.
The problem with meetings is that they don’t look like the images they’ve been sending; This is why they will arrange to meet or even video call and then create a series of excuses to ensure the meeting never happens.
At the same time, they will be loving and apologetic, building your trust.
Don’t forget, scammers will often suggest you keep the relationship between the two of you as others won’t understand.
In truth they need to stop you from talking to friends and those friends pointing out you’re being scammed.
The above romance scam statistics make grim reading and could be enough to persuade you never to look for love again.
However, it’s still possible to meet that special someone.
You simply need to be aware of the signs that you’re being scammed and make sure you take things slow.
The bottom line is simple, unless you’ve met the person several times and connected in person, you never give them any money.
If they are serious about you they will meet you, allowing you to verify all the pictures and information they’ve supplied are genuine.
Looking for romance is something that everyone should feel safe doing.
You simply need to take it slow and make sure you meet them before you commit to giving them money or even marrying them.