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30+ Catfishing Statistics and Trends

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Catfishing is a fast-growing, sometimes costly online con fueled by the accelerated growth of social media and online dating platforms.

Many have fallen prey to catfishing in the last few years, with catfishing statistics revealing a further upward trend over the coming years.

Below is a list of all the latest facts, trends, and statistics to help you understand the latest catfishing strategies, including how to stay safe.

Top 6 Catfishing Statistics (Editor’s Pick)

  • 62.6% of catfish perpetrators in 2022 had “dark” personality traits.
  • 55% of catfish perpetrators were not sorry.
  • 72% of catfish victims reported losing money through social media in 2021.
  • $547 million was lost to online romance scams in the US in 2021.
  • The median loss to online catfish scammers increased with age.
  • 60% of adults preferred a picture verification system to prevent catfishing cases in 2022.

Infographic

top catfishing statistics
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General Catfishing Statistics

1. A fifth of millennials made contact with a catfish online.

As of January 2022, only 6% of baby boomers made contact with a catfish online

This contrasts with 20% of millennials who were positive they did.

Characteristic Gen Z (1997 to 2012) Millennials (1991 to 1996) Gen X (1965 to 1980) Baby Boomer (1946 to 1964)
Yes, definitely 18% 20% 12% 6%
Yes, probably 25% 24% 15% 9%
No, probably not 14% 16% 18% 16%
No, definitely not 34% 27% 40% 48%
Don’t know/ No opinion 10% 12% 15% 21%

2. 16% of American adults believed impersonation on social media was legal in 2022.

Meanwhile, 48% of US adults believed impersonation or creating a fake profile online was illegal, while 36% weren’t sure.

3. 47% of American adults were aware of catfishing in 2022.

In comparison, only 7% of those between 35 to 65 years old were aware of catfishing, while 35% weren’t.

4. 62.6% of catfish perpetrators in 2022 had “dark” personality traits.

Individuals more likely to catfish online were egotistical (narcissism), deceptive, and callous (psychopathy) and enjoyed causing psychological or physical harm (sadism).

5. Romance scammers deceive their victims with urgent lies.

Most romance scammers in 2022 used fake reasons to deceive victims into sending them money. The table below highlights the biggest lies:

Romance scammers’ favorite lies Frequency of use
“I or someone close to me is sick, hurt, or in jail.” 24%
“I can teach you how to invest.” 18%
“I’m in the military far away.” 18%
“I need help with an important delivery.” 18%
“Let’s talk about marriage.” 12%
“I’ve recently come into some money or gold.” 7%
“I’m stationed on a ship or an oil rig.” 6%
“You can trust me with your private pictures.” 3%

6. 55% of catfish perpetrators were not sorry.

Out of all the catfishers caught in 2022, only 45% felt guilty after they got caught.

7. 13% of Americans communicated with a catfish in 2022.

As of January 2022, 17% believed there was a high probability they interacted with a catfish, 15% were not aware, and 38% were positively sure they never interacted with one.

Catfishing Statistics by Gender Demographics

8. 8% of male adults sent money to a catfish in 2022.

Meanwhile, only 3% of women sent money to a catfish in 2022.

9. 6% of women reported being impersonated online without permission in 2022.

In comparison, as of February 2022, 7% of men reported being impersonated.

10. 74% of catfishing perpetrators in 2022 were women.

Only 26% of men were perpetrators. Conversely, 85% of catfishing victims were women, while 15% were men.

Sex Catfishing Perpetrators Targets/Victims
Male 26% 15%
Female 74% 85%

Social Media Catfishing Statistics

11. 72% of Catfish victims reported losing money through social media in 2021.

20.6% of all reported social media scams ended in monetary loss

The median loss per scam amounted to $90, $10 less than other websites.

12. Victims reported social media platforms as the first point of contact for catfishing romance scams in 2021.

Facebook and Instagram were identified as ground zero for romance scams, accounting for 23% and 13%, respectively.

13. 73% of internet users believed social media companies should remove catfish perpetrators from their platforms in 2022.

10% thought social media platforms were already doing enough, 3% thought they shouldn’t try to overdo it, and 14% had no opinion. 

14. 4% of Americans had four or more fake social media accounts besides their real ones.

In 2022, 47.6% of Americans admitted to owning two or more fake accounts

Of these, 2.6% did this to fool friends, a crush, an ex-partner, or a current partner, while 0.4% did it to scam others.

15. WhatsApp, Google Chat, and Telegram were mentioned in nearly half of romance scam reports.

40% of romance scam reports in 2022 showed that scammers prefer to use these social media platforms to scam victims.

16. 13.1% of fake social media profiles were made by the opposite gender.

These fake profiles were created to spy on other accounts.

fake social media profiles were made by the opposite gender
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17. Instagram and Snapchat were the top social media platforms for sextortion.

In 2022, victims reported their sextortion cases started on both platforms, with Instagram at 41% and Snapchat at 31%.

Catfishing Consequences Statistics

18. $547 million was lost to online romance scams in the US in 2021.

This represented an increase of $240 million from $307 million in 2020. 

On average, victims lost around $2,400 to every scam.

19. Over 1,800 online romance complaints were made to the FBI in 2021.

All these romance scams started on social media or online dating platforms, resulting in victims losing roughly $133.4 million.

20. Catfish victims lost $139 million in cryptocurrencies in 2021.

Romance catfish scammers used phony cryptocurrency schemes to siphon money from unsuspecting victims. The median loss per victim was $10,000.

21. Over $13.6 million was lost to sextortion.

In 2021, the FBI received over 18,000 cases of sextortion, with a total loss of $13.6 million. 

22. Catfishing romance scammers were targetting cryptocurrencies, banks, and wire transfers.

In 2021, romance scammers stole $139 million in cryptocurrency, $121 million in bank transfers, $93 million in wire transfers, and $36 million in gift/reload cards.

23. The median loss to online catfish scammers increased with age.

In 2021, people aged 70 and older reported the highest individual median loss to catfish scammers at $9,000.

Age Median reported losses
18 to 29 $750
30 to 39 $2,000
40 to 49 $3,000
50 to 59 $4,000
60 to 69 $6,000
70 and over $9,000

24. Catfish Victims lost $956 million through romance fraud in 2021.

24,299 victims reported losing money through romance fraud, with 4,325 pressured into shady investment opportunities.

25. Individuals lost an average of $700 to catfish scammers through gift cards in 2022.

They also lost $10,079 in crypto, $10,000 in bank transfers, and $650 in payment app services. 

Global Catfishing Statistics

26. Romance scam cases were reduced in 2022.

There were 41,463 cases reported in 2020, 59,690 in 2021, and a combined 39,438 for Q1, Q2, and Q3 2022.

27. 7% of adults aged 18-34 sent money to a catfish in 2022.

5% of adults sent money to a catfish. Men accounted for 8% of these, and women 3%.

28. 60% of adults preferred a picture verification system to prevent catfishing cases in 2022.

56% wanted fake accounts banned, while 53% wanted laws enacted against perpetrators.

Percentage of Adults Actions Supported
60% Add a picture safety option/feature
56% Ban fake accounts
53% Enact laws against catfishing on social media
52% Require identity verification
50% Block users from screenshotting profile pictures
46% Create reverse image search to prevent identity duplicated

29. Only 2.8% of romance scams were reported in 2021.

The total loss was projected to surpass $526 billion if all romance scams had been reported. 

Catfishing Statistics in Different States

30. Texas ranked position 1 for most fake social media profiles in 2022.

Based on a ranking scale of 1-5, Texas took the top spot for the state with the highest number of fake social media profiles. Close behind were Florida and New York.

31. North Dakota had the highest average loss per romance scam in 2021.

North Dakota topped the list with $209,289, Rhode Island came in second at $62,773, and California third at $60,843.

32. Maine had the lowest average loss per romance scam in 2021.

Average losses amounted to $5,775, followed by Arkansas at $7,977 and New Mexico at $11,571.

maine had the lowest average loss per romance scam
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33. California had the highest losses to dating scams in 2021.

California had 3,023 dating scam victims who lost $183,928,320.

How to Avoid Being Catfished?

These statistics reveal that catfishing has become a global problem

Catfish victims lost thousands of dollars to romance scammers, with first contact beginning on social media.

To avoid getting catfished, don’t send cryptocurrency, money, or private pictures to someone you don’t know online. Additionally, take precautions on social media platforms, as it’s where most romance scams start.

Be sure to check our other statistics roundup for romance scams

References:
  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1291656/us-adults-catfishing-interaction/
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1293380/us-adults-sent-money-to-a-catfish-by-gender/
  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1293374/us-adults-who-have-interacted-with-catfish-by-generation/
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1362095/us-romance-scams-losses/
  5. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1301696/global-experience-of-recent-harmful-online-contact/
  6. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1293386/us-adults-on-legality-of-fake-online-persona/
  7. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1293352/us-adults-awareness-of-catfishing-by-age/
  8. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1294982/us-adults-social-media-companies-catfishing-responsibilities/
  9. https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2021/PSA210916
  10. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2022/02/ftc-data-show-romance-scams-hit-record-high-547-million-reported-lost-2021
  11. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2022/02/reports-romance-scams-hit-record-highs-2021#_edn4
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0747563222004198?via%3Dihub
  13. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10591-022-09646-5
  14. https://www.psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/episode-160-the-psychology-behind-catfishing
  15. https://uscasinos.com/blog/owning-fake-social-media-accounts/
  16. https://about.fb.com/news/2022/05/community-standards-enforcement-report-q1-2022/
  17. https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2021_IC3Report.pdf
  18. https://bbbfoundation.images.worldnow.com/library/259c7333-0fb3-4bc0-a059-4b116594c473.pdf
  19. https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2021State/StateReport.aspx#?s=6
  20. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2023/02/romance-scammers-favorite-lies-exposed
  21. https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/romance-scams/
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