Wondering which state has the highest number of catfish victims from romance scams?
Join us as we explore the most comprehensive data, pulled straight from the government’s own F.B.I. files. If you want to know if your state is most at risk and how to protect yourself, now is the time to find out.
Even as apps, websites, and users educate themselves about online fraud, being catfished happens to many more people than is reported. Catfishing doesn’t discriminate, and catfish can be found on almost any online platform, including social media and dating sites, as well as interactive games.
What is Catfishing?
Catfishing occurs when someone creates a fake online persona and use it to establish a relationship with another individual(s). The person possessing a false identity is referred to as a “catfish”. Generally, catfish want to trick their victim(s) into believing a wrong set of personal details about them.
For example, a middle-aged catfish might pretend to be a teenager, to lure an underage person into an inappropriate relationship. Other times, catfish are lonely, alienated people who don’t feel good about themselves. They might choose a fake persona that uses a model’s or celebrity’s (or another attractive person’s) photographs and pretends to live an extraordinary life.
Some catfishers look to pull the wool over their victim’s eyes and solicit cash or gifts, which is when the behavior becomes fraudulent. At other times, catfish are married and create fake online identities so they can get an online date without being caught. Regardless of the specifics, catfish are not who they claim to be.
Due to their comprehensive deceit through fake profiles, photographs, and stories, catfish have the power to damage their victim’s ability to trust others. While some victims see through the facade of a catfish quickly, others are roped into an online relationship that lasts months or even years!
Unfortunately, many catfish leap into something more sinister, called romance scams. Not only do these criminals catfish their victims with a fake relationship, but they also trick them out of money. When catfish lie to get money and gifts, it is illegal.
Often catfish who are romance scammers live outside of the United States in places like Nigeria. They might claim to be stationed overseas or working on an oil rig when it’s part of their scam (to give them an excuse as to why they can’t meet), and you are not their only victim.
Catfishing Statistics: A State by State Comparison of Catfish Victims
Are you wondering how your state ranked and if you’re alone in worrying about romance scams and catfish? While catfish are often after an emotional connection, some catfish also want your cash. We have detailed below from the FBI’s IC3 2019 report, most states with the highest (reported) victim count are topped by California (2,206), Florida (1,363), Texas (1,287), and New York (931). You can find your state below:
How to Avoid Catfish Scams
Assume that anyone you haven’t met in person might be a catfish. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you should be cautious. To determine if anyone pushing for an intense online friendship or relationship is who they claim to be, search their name, username, phone number, images, and more on Social Catfish.
If someone doesn’t want to video chat, they’re probably a catfish. There are many authentic reasons why someone might not want to video chat, if they’re at work or not feeling well, etc.
However, if you’re exchanging “I love you’s” with an individual online or consider them a close friend, and they still refuse (or make excuses) as to why they can’t speak by video chat (even once) they’re probably a catfish and hiding something. Most people have access to video chat or will make an effort for someone they’re talking to online daily.
Look for inconsistencies by taking note of changing stories or excuses as to why the individual can’t video chat or meet in person. Catfishers are often lonely tale-tellers who will spin elaborate stories to keep you from finding out their real identity.
Constant excuses not to meet mean that you’re probably dealing with a catfisher. A common ploy is to string their victims along, for as long as possible. A catfish knows that you will likely want to meet in person, eventually.
To please you, they might even agree on a time and date to meet. However, once that day arrives, they will make an excuse. They will claim their flight was canceled, they are ill, or that a relative had an emergency or died.
Why Do Romance Scammers Do This?
Your catfish may genuinely have an emotional attachment to you or want to scam you out of money. Due to this, they will lie as long as you will stay in their lives and believe what they’re saying.
Never give money to anyone you meet online. It’s good to help others, but if someone you only know through the internet is in search of money, they are probably a romance scammer. They may say that they need cash for an emergency or to come and see you.
While everyone who uses the web is at risk of encountering scammers and catfish online, it is up to you to keep yourself safe. Never give out personal information to anyone you don’t know intimately (and in person). Do not share your financial data, credit card details, passwords, address, or other details that a catfish might use to blackmail or manipulate you.
Think of the web as a great place to connect with others, to a point. If you do find yourself falling for someone that you met online, don’t pursue the relationship until they agree to verify their identity and video chat, or meet face-to-face.
Don’t let yourself fall victim to a catfish! Protect yourself before someone pulls the wool over your eyes and verify identity today, at Social Catfish: