Pretending to be someone you’re not to dupe people out of money is a scam as old as time. But throwing love and the internet into the mix created a scam all its own known as “catfishing.”
With social media and online dating apps, scammers have more access to potential victims than ever before. The scammers who catfish use these platforms to find the easiest targets and the biggest fish possible.
Beware of these scheming seductresses and robbing Romeos—they pose a greater danger than you may think. Along with being costly, these scams can be heartbreaking. Many victims develop real feelings for the fictitious identities created by the scammers.
In case you’re wondering how much of a risk this is for you, we found out just how likely you are to be catfished in each state and how much it could cost you. See how we did it below.
Obviously, higher populations have more of every kind of people, including catfishing victims. But when you want to know the likelihood of getting catfished in your state, you also need to adjust for population. That’s what you see in the map below, and it tells a different story.
The fishing in Alaska is always good, and catfishing is no exception. Alaska leads the country as the place you’re most likely to get catfished.
All five states where you’re most likely to be catfished are in the West, while the numbers are lower in the East.
For example, you’re pretty unlikely to get catfished in Washington, DC, which doesn’t surprise us. It’s only natural that a city full of politicians would know how to stay out of trouble.
A $37,000 catfish better come with solid gold potato wedges.
The real danger of getting catfished lies in how much money you could use.
- Catfishing victims in Arkansas lost more than a whopping $37,000 per victim, for a total of over $4 million as a state.
- In a single year, catfished people in the United States lost more than $187 million. That’s an average of more than $15,000 per victim.
Catfishing in Vermont doesn’t net much. Vermont victims lost a total of just under $14,000 to romance scams—less than any other state. That works out to about $626 per victim.
California victims lost close to $30.5 million to online romance scams—more than any other state. While that’s a lot of money, California also had a large number of victims, so the cost was about $19,120 per victim.
Some poor, lonely souls looking for love in Oregon as an escape from the drizzling skies of the Northwest ended up paying a fortune for it. Oregon made the top five in both the likelihood of getting catfished and the average cost per catfish victim.
South Dakota is among the five states where you’re least likely to get catfished and where catfish victims lose the least money per scam.
Don’t be lured into a bad decision.
The internet is a powerful tool that makes life easier. Unfortunately, some people want to exploit that. Here are some tips for navigating dangerous internet waters:
- Be careful with who you let into your social network and especially your heart.
- Be wary of anyone asking you for money. Some of these scams can last for years, so even if you’ve been chatting with someone for a long time, that doesn’t mean their intentions are good.
- If you haven’t met someone in person, don’t send them money.
- Remember: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
For more tips about avoiding catfishing and how to report it, visit the “Online Dating Scams” section of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website.
We used 2016 FBI romance fraud data, the most recent available at the time of production. The data included the total incidents and monetary loss by victims in each state. We determined the average cost per victim for each state using this data. We then broke the data out by population to determine the likelihood of getting catfished in each state by calculating victims per 100,000 people.
State Rankings of Catfishing Likelihood from Most to Least
States with the Highest and Lowest Cost per Catfish Scam
|State||Avg. Cost per Scam|
(Average cost per catfish scam = Total cost of all victims/number of victims)
Ever been hooked by a catfish?
Tell us your story in the comments.