Whether it’s in person or online, romance scam statistics show how many people have their feelings duped by scammers.
There’s no doubt these scams can be rather hurtful, but in reality, they can be more damaging to your wallet or identity.
In 2022, romance scams were the cause of $1.3 billion in losses, and this is only within the United States.
While some scams may be pretty easy to avoid, others can be much more cunning.
Even if you have never fallen for a romance scam yourself, you’d be surprised at just how much of an issue they actually are.
The full scope of the issue is much more convoluted than you might think, but statistics show the reality behind romance scams and how they affect people.
- 18% of romance scams include lies about teaching you how to invest
- The number of these scams reported to the FTC grew by 3x between 2017 and 2021
- Over 24,000 Americans fell for romance scams in 2021
- Social media is a primary attack vector for romance scams
- Around one in seven dating profiles may be fake
- Lonliness during Valentine’s Day makes 52% of people more susceptible to scams
- More people are finding dates online, which has created more space for romance scams
- Cryptocurrency is a main payment method commonly associated with romance scams
- Around 60% of reported losses due to romance scams are handled in cryptocurrency transactions
Romance Scam Statistics: The Hard Truth
While romance scams won’t come to a stop any time soon, you can educate yourself on the matter in hopes of avoiding them down the road.
You might not have ever encountered a romance scam before, but they’re all too common in today’s world.
This is especially true considering the relevance of technology in our everyday lives.
Although you can look at romance scams from many different angles, the statistics listed below provide a general overview of the situation.
1. Scammers Know How to Lie
The main reason so many people fall for romance scams is that many criminals tend to be pretty good liars.
With many ways to make themselves sound believable, all they have to do is use the right words, and some people will fall right into their trap.
There are many popular tropes with the types of lies that scammers like to use, and there’s data to back it up.
In the table below, you can get a look at the various popular lies that scammers use time and time again.
|How They Lie
|Someone close to me is sick
|I can teach you how to invest
|I’m in the military far away
|I need help with an important delivery
|We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage
|I’ve come into some money or gold
|I’m on an oil rig or ship
|You can trust me with your private pictures
Some of these may sound outlandish, but they wouldn’t be so popular with scammers if they didn’t work.
With a little discernment, spotting a scammer online or over the phone isn’t too difficult.
2. Romance Scams Are on the Rise
Based on data that focuses on 2017 to 2021, it’s evident that romance scams are only becoming more common over time.
People continue to fall for them, and scammers get new, clever ideas with each passing year.
Technology is a major catalyst in why scammers are finding so much success.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who aren’t aware of how scammers work in the modern world.
Between 2017 and 2021, romance scams increased by three times during those years.
Even with romance scams becoming more common, there’s a good chance you might go your entire life without ever encountering it yourself.
Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why education on the matter is so important.
3. Almost $1 Billion in Losses in 2021
Romance and confidence scams tend to go hand in hand, and they have a knack for tricking thousands of people.
In 2021, over 24,000 people fell victim to romance scams, and this made the scammers $956 million richer.
It’s a staggering amount of money, and it’s something that has to be combated in every way possible.
This data also comes from a time when Covid was much more rampant, and society saw an uptick in scams across the board for a few years.
However, this shouldn’t take away from the fact that romance scams are becoming a bigger issue.
Even with the right education and tools in place, scammers won’t stop trying to play the romance card for money.
Scammers are smart enough to target the right people for the most part.
Many of the individuals who fall for such scams pay no mind to the topic, or the scammer may just be one of the most believable they’ve ever encountered.
4. Social Media is an Open Market for Scammers
Considering a good portion of the world is on some form of social media, you can expect scammers to be lurking in the mix.
You’ll also find that some social media channels are more popular targets than others.
Tens of thousands of people report social media scams to the FBI on a yearly basis.
Aside from romance scams, some of these instances turn into more serious criminal activities.
Overall, it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, whether you’re directly affected or not.
The issue with channels like social media is that it’s a lot easier to get someone to fall for a scam than in person or over the phone.
For example, on social media, scammers can get people to click on a phishing link to obtain personal, banking, or account information.
The damage is real, and all it takes is a second to give the scammers exactly what they want.
5. Scammers and Online Dating
In our modern era, online dating has rapidly become a norm throughout society.
As most people are busy with their personal lives, many of them don’t have time to engage with others in public settings.
This is where online dating became popular, as people could meet and interact from the comfort of their homes or anywhere for that matter.
This has also created a breeding ground for scammers, which can be seen in numerous fake profiles on apps like Tinder and Bumble.
It’s a complaint among many users of online dating platforms, as it seems more and more fake accounts dominate the playing field.
In reality, about one in seven profiles on online dating platforms are entirely fake.
In some cases, the profile, bio, and photos are a dead giveaway that an account is fake, but it isn’t always so easy to tell.
Taking into account that online dating apps have plenty of single and lonely men, scammers are in full force at all hours of the day.
A Look at the Financial Loss
Putting the potential for mental and emotional damage aside, romance scams can lead to a lot of lost money.
The fact is that this happens in the hundreds of millions every year.
You’d be surprised to learn just how much money some people have lost to simple scams.
There’s plenty of data available on this particular topic, and it’s interesting to see how different countries and demographics are affected by such scams.
The U.S. is a leading hub for romance scams, as they generally incur the most losses from this particular scam every year.
Romance scams have found their way all around the world at this point, and the financial loss is steep.
6. Romance Scams are Global
While the United States saw $1.3 billion in losses due to romance scams in 2022, there are plenty of other countries that are in a similar boat.
It’s important to note that this figure is much higher than in previous years, as 2022 saw a 78% increase from 2020 in romance scams.
Canadian residents saw a loss of at least $50 million in 2021, and this figure can be broken down into about $54,000 per victim.
Keep in mind that this is only what’s reported, as there are many other scams that go undocumented every year.
Another country that’s struggling with the rise of romance scams is Australia.
Residents in Australia dealt with $568 million in losses in 2022, all stemming from romance scams of various types.
To better equip yourself against scammers, it’s beneficial to know where these scams occur the most.
7. Social Networking Targets
Scammers tend to be pretty active, which means you’ll find them essentially everywhere you look, considering they can hide behind a screen online.
Social networking applications such as Instagram and Facebook are quite popular, but scammers can be found on any social platform.
The table below offers a look at some of the most targeted platforms for romance scams in 2019 and still are to this day.
|Number of Reports
|Plenty of Fish
|Words with Friends
As you can see, people are falling for romance scams on almost any kind of social networking platform.
Of course, in regard to the topic of romance, many scammers will hang out on online dating applications, as there are plenty of desperate and gullible people to be found on these platforms.
8. Where is the Money Coming From?
Based on data provided by the FTC, it’s apparent that scammers have some preferences when it comes to payment methods.
Cryptocurrency takes the top spot at 34%, and this makes sense considering decentralization and blockchain technology.
The pie chart below breaks down various payment methods and their popularity among romance scammers based on total reported loss.
Although cryptocurrency is one of the most popular payment methods, scammers have more than one effective option available.
For another interesting data point, you can look at the correlation between the rising number of reports and the increasing financial loss each year.
Unfortunately, both sides are increasing at a rapid rate that’s hard to combat.
9. A Rising Number of Scams and Losses
As I mentioned earlier, romance scams and the losses related to those scams are on the rise.
2021 was one of the worst in recent years, but romance scams have become an increasing issue for years now.
When you take a look at the available data, there’s a drastic jump in reports and financial loss between 2017 and 2021.
Overall, these numbers are shocking on their own, but they make you wonder where does it all end.
The truth is that it may never truly end.
Your best bet is to remain educated on the matter and protect yourself moving forward.
10. Median Individual Loss Per Person
Reflecting on data recorded from 2021, the median individual amount lost to romance scams is around $2,400 per person.
This is enough to run most people dry, and all it takes is a single action to lose it all.
Of course, banks have systems in place to help protect their customers from such scams.
In the same vein, those who willingly send money to a scammer are more than likely out of luck.
Even if you report it to your bank, they probably won’t be able to return your money, as you willingly sent the money yourself.
Romance scams can be tricky to navigate, but the damages they can cause shouldn’t be taken lightly by any means.
That $2,400 is bound to vary from one year to the next, but we can only hope it doesn’t increase as time goes on.
Since scammers have been active for years now, there’s also a lot of data on how scammers act, function, think, and more.
All of which can be used to combat their efforts at every turn.
Who Do Romance Scammers Target?
No one is safe when it comes to scammers.
While some people aren’t so easily fooled, there are entire demographics of people who are more prone to fall for such scams.
You might think that age is the biggest factor here, but in reality, any age group can fall victim to a well-thought-out scam.
Not to mention, we’re speaking in the context of a romance scam, which is bound to reel in many people looking for love.
11. The Elderly
As you might expect, the elderly are victims of a wide variety of scams on a daily basis.
Scammers take advantage of the elderly because they’re more prone to believe their lies.
Those who are 55 to 64 are at the highest risk of falling for a romance scam.
In 2020 alone, older individuals lost roughly $139 million, most of which went toward promises like lottery scams, prizes, and sweepstakes.
Moreover, 68% of all reported financial losses due to romance scams in 2020 came from older individuals.
Scammers are also bound to be more successful with certain payment methods when it comes to older people.
For example, the elderly may be more prone to write a check or initiate a bank transfer over handing out their debit card information.
12. Men and Women are at Equal Risk
Some might think either men or women are more at risk when it comes to romance scams, but statistics say otherwise.
Although the data isn’t exact, they come pretty close.
In 2022, 47.2% of victims were men, and 50.3% of them were women.
Only 2.4% of respondents chose not to mention their gender.
This shows that scammers don’t discriminate, and their cunning ways have the ability to trick just about anyone.
However, data does tell us that middle-aged women are at increased risk when it comes to romance scams.
A study that focused on this particular angle found that the most likely traits of romance scam victims include being middle-aged, female, sensation-seeking, and more.
In general, those who have love and relationships on their mind are more likely to lean into a scam without having a second thought about it.
13. The Loss Isn’t Just Financial
You can assume that most, if not all scammers could care less about the feelings of the person on the other end of the line.
In many cases, romance scams are pretty drawn out, and some people build false relationships with scammers online.
Once it leads to their money being stolen, a lot of these people mourn the loss of the relationship more than the money.
It makes sense if you think about it, as some people end up love-struck under false pretenses.
Although this leads to a lesson learned, it still comes with a lot of pain for the victim.
There are also certain factors that make people more susceptible to scams at certain times compared to others.
For example, on Valentine’s Day, 52% of individuals are more likely to be duped by a romance scam than on any other day of the year.
That’s part of what makes this type of scam so detrimental, as some scammers lead people on for days, weeks, and even months at a time.
There’s also research that highlights how people deal with this type of loss stemming from a romance scam.
Many people end up going through denial as they end up getting attached to the false relationship they built with the scammer.
14. Romance Scammers Prefer to Go After Women
It isn’t uncommon for many women to focus heavily on many different aspects of love, which makes them an easier target for romance scams.
Statistics show that romance scams come with a 36% susceptibility risk with each target.
On top of that, romance scams are the second riskiest scam for women.
When you combine this demographic with a location like California, you’ll find some of the worst numbers related to romance scams.
Although there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself from romance scams, they can show themselves in many different forms.
Some groups are bound to be a bit more gullible than others.
While there are plenty of people who can identify a scam from a mile away, there are just as many who can’t.
While most people are experienced with scammers over the phone, they can also lurk in the shadows of the internet.
We’re also seeing a rise in stalkerware, which drives quite a few privacy concerns.
15. Stalkerware is Becoming More Common
In short, stalkerware is used to spy on your devices.
Although this isn’t directly correlated to how all romance scams work, it can be used in conjunction with one.
By using stalkerware, a scammer can learn a lot of personal details about you and then use that information to scam you later on.
Here are a few other notable statistics related to this topic:
- 42% of Americans aged 18 to 39 believe their partner is somewhat likely to download and use stalkerware
- Between September 2020 and May 2021, there was a 63% increase in infected devices
- One-third of Americans think it’s harmless to monitor their partner online
- 86% of adults are unaware of stalkerware
Handling modern scams requires modern solutions, but it’ll also come with a learning curve for a lot of people.
Over time, we can expect to see stalkerware become a more prevalent issue.
While there will be many more people who fall for romance scams every year, you can use the information in this article to defend yourself.
The internet isn’t a safe place, and scammers are always looking for a new way to get their hands on someone else’s money.
Avoiding modern scams starts with having the right information, and this article makes it clear that we should all be taking extra security measures online.
This article provides a comprehensive take on romance scam statistics to give you a clear look at a somewhat overlooked issue.