Dating and romance scam statistics show that romance fraud is rising worldwide. I put together a list of romance scam statistics and trends for you.
To complete this list, I went through the law enforcement reports compiled by authorities around the world, studies conducted by private companies, and news coverage.
To give you a short overview:
Most Interesting Romance Scam Statistics (Editor’s Pick)
- 1 in 10 dating profiles is fake, with male profiles being 21% more likely to be fake than female profiles.
- 1 out of 3 people who lost money in a romance scam met the perpetrator on a social media platform, with Facebook being the most common platform at 23% and Instagram coming second at 13%.
- Romance scams are the second most profitable type of social media fraud.
- 24% of Australian romance fraud victims met scammers on social media.
- Military romance scams are prevalent, with many scammers pretending to be deployed military members to gain the victim’s trust and get them to send money.
- In 2021, $547 million was lost to online dating scams in the US, which is an 80% increase from 2020. The average loss per person in 2021 was $2400.
Dating App Scam Statistics & Facts
Let’s begin with statistics and facts about dating app scams.
1. 324 Million people use dating apps globally.
In the US alone, dating apps have 50 million users, making up 15% of the global user base of 324 million. This figure is expected to rise to 53.3 million by 2025.
2. Nearly 40% of UK dating app users were asked for money.
In the UK, 2 in 5 dating app users (38%) were asked for money in 2021 by people they met on those apps. 57% of those users gave the requested money to the person they interacted with, despite never having met them in person.
3. $547 Million was lost to online dating scams in 2021 in the USA.
This loss of $547 million represents an 80% increase from 2020, when these losses were $304 million. An average loss per person in 2021 amounts to $2400. This loss is part of the $1.3 billion lost to dating app scammers in the USA over the last five years.
4. Scammers prefer communicating outside dating apps.
Today’s dating apps have different methods of monitoring and reporting users for possible scams. For that reason, many malicious actors ask their victims to move to services like WhatsApp or Google Hangouts to have their conversations.
5. 1 in 10 Dating profiles is fake.
The chance that a dating profile is fake is 1 in 10. And male profiles are 21% more likely to be fake than female profiles.
6. 21% of the adult British population avoid dating apps.
7. Nigeria, Ghana, and Romania are countries with the highest romance fraud rates.
Romance scams are rising in Nigeria, Ghana, and Romania. South Africa and the Netherlands are other countries with high romance scam rates, according to the research conducted by Sift.
Social Media Romance Scams Statistics & Facts
Dating apps aren’t the only venue for romance fraudsters to meet their victims. Social media is another popular tool. Here are statistics and facts on romance scams conducted via social media.
One out of three people who lost money in a romance scam met the perpetrator on a social media platform. Facebook is the most common, with 23% of victims losing money to scammers. Instagram comes second at 13%.
Romance scams come second to investment scams in terms of profitability. Together, the two scams make up 70% of people’s losses from social media scams.
10. Undercover reporter gets messages from 27 scammers on Words with Friends and Google Hangouts.
A reporter from Against Scammers used an 80-year-old persona on the game and received messages from 27 scammers. The scammers wanted to move to other platforms, thanks to the game’s anti-spam feature. Google Hangouts was a popular choice.
According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, social media is the second most popular method for scammers in Australia. Such online romance scams make up almost 24% of all reported scams.
The top favorite platforms for Aussie scammers are mobile apps like Tinder and Hinge, at almost 25%. Emails and texts are the third and fourth favorites, respectively.
Military Romance Scams Statistics & Facts
In many romance scams, scammers pretend to be military members deployed overseas and use their fake deployment stories to get the victim to send them money.
12. Woman loses $80,000 to a military romance scam.
A woman from Australia fell for a military romance scam initiated by a 22-year-old Nigerian man and lost $80,000.
Many such scams originate from West African countries, such as a school in Ghana that teaches young men to catfish western women.
13. A woman was left homeless after a military romance scam.
US Army Criminal Investigation Division reports that hundreds of people fall for military romance scams every month. A woman from Arizona was homeless and short of $5300 after one scam.
14. A woman lost $305k in military romance Words with Friends scam.
A Wisconsin-based woman lost $305k after meeting an impersonator of Gen. Stephen J. Townsend on Words with Friends in 2021.
The alias was first used for a military romance scam in 2014. The “Townsend” identity got so prolific that it was the subject of three fraud court cases, and the US military issued a warning in 2018.
Crypto Romance Scams Statistics & Facts
In the last few years, scams involving bogus cryptocurrency investments and payments extorted by someone the victims met online have skyrocketed. Here are facts and statistics on the matter.
15. Crypto romance scams originated in China.
The original term for a crypto romance scam is “sha zhu pan” or “pig butchering.” The Chinese term’s background comes from crypto romance scammers “fattening up” their victims with compliments and love bombing before “slaughtering” them or stealing their money via cryptocurrency.
16. There are over 4,325 complaints from crypto romance scam victims.
As reported by the FBI, 4,325 victims lost over $429 million to romance scams involving cryptocurrency in 2021. That’s a median loss of $99,190 per victim.
17. $139 Million was lost to crypto romance scams in 2021.
This figure of $139 million lost to romance scams involving cryptocurrency was reported in 2021. That’s five times higher than the one reported in 2020 and 25 times higher than the 2019 figure.
18. The average loss from crypto romance scams was $10,000.
According to Experian’s research, the victims of crypto investment romance scams suffered high losses in 2021. The average monetary loss was $10,000 per person.
19. Cryptocurrency is the second most common payment method in romance scams.
About 18% of romance victims paid their scammers in cryptocurrency in 2021. However, the leading payment method was gift cards, used by 28% of victims. One in four victims said they used a gift card to pay the scammers, and the overall losses in 2021 from this method were $36 million.
Other popular methods are payment apps or services (14%), bank transfers (13%), and wire transfers (12%). The rest are MoneyGram, WesternUnion, etc.
Romance Scams Statistics & Trends
Let’s look at the general global statistics and trends in romance scams.
20. The FBI got 24,299 reports of romance scams in 2021.
In 2021, the FBI received over 24,299 complaints from victims of romance scams. They lost over $956 million. On average, that amounts to $39,343 per victim.
That’s up from 23,751 victims and $600,249,821 losses incurred in 2020, which amounts to a $25,272 loss per person. The number of romance scam victims in the US that were reported to the police grew by 4,000 in one year.
21. The NFIB got 8,863 reports of romance fraud in 11 months.
UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau received 8,863 reports of romance scams in October 2020-November 2021. That’s up from 6,968 in the previous 11-month period.
The peak occurred between Christmas 2020 and Valentine’s Day in 2021, when over 900 reports were filed.
22. £14.6 Million were lost to romance scams in the UK in May 2021.
Although romance scammers are most active during Christmas and Valentine’s Day, the financial loss in 2020-2021 was only £8.7 million, as reported in March 2021 by NFIB. The biggest financial losses were suffered in May of 2021 and amounted to £14.6 million.
23. Over half of British romance scam victims are women.
39% of the victims are men, and 11% don’t report their gender. The highest amount of victims was in the 50-59 age groups (20%), with 40-49-year-olds following closely behind (18%).
24. 1 in 5 US and UK citizens were victims of a romance scam.
According to a study conducted by security firm Tessian, one in five persons in the UK and US has been victims of romance scams. Both men and women were targeted equally.
25. Canadians reported losing over $42.2m to romance scams.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, romance scams were the second most common scams in 2021 in Canada. The resulting losses amount to over $42.2 million.
26. Australians lost over $38 million in 2022 to romance scams.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission reported $38 million lost to romance scammers from 3,000 reports filed in 2022.
The highest losses, amounting to $6,238,018, were incurred in October 2022, when 313 reports were filed. September and January were close second and third, with $5,577,796 from 279 reports and $5,378,615 from 289 reports, respectively. The highest number of 2022 romance scam reports (397) was filed to the Commission in November 2022.
27. Less than 5% of victims report romance scams.
Despite the dangers of romance scams and their impacts, less than 5 percent of victims tell the authorities they were scammed.
28. Female victims lost £6200 on average to romance scams.
According to the research conducted by the British bank TSB, romance scams increased by 91% during the Covid-19 pandemic. Most scams started on Facebook (35% of the bank’s fraud cases), with Tinder being the second most popular platform for scams at 24%.
From December 2020 until January 2022, female victims of romance scams lost £6200 per person on average, according to TSB’s data. The corresponding figure for male victims was £4600.
Insert a list-type infographic here with the following facts. Make sure the figures and percentages are in bold or red.
- Scams went up 91% during Covid-19;
- 35% of scams started on Facebook;
- Female romance scam victims lost £6200 whereas men lost £4600 on average;
- Average relationship was 62 days, with the longest one being 1059 days.
29. The average length of a fake online relationship was 62 days.
The study by TSB showed that 62 days was the average period when victims paid money to scammers. The longest relationship of the kind was almost three years.
30. Singapore romance scam victims lost over $30 Million.
The number of romance scam cases in Singapore grew 13-fold in 2011, amounting to 822 cases, with a loss of over $33 million. In 2011, these figures amounted to 62 cases and $2.3 million. And in the first half of 2022, over 380 victims fell prey to such scams.
31. People aged 60 and older lost over $80m in romance scams in 2021.
Additionally, people 70 and over reported an average loss of $9,000 per person. That’s compared to the average losses of $6000 per person for victims in the age group of 60-69 and $4000 for 50-59-year-olds.
32. Romance scams are expected to go up in 2023.
According to cybersecurity expert Terry Cutler, the expected growth of dating app users in 2023 and beyond will increase the number of scammers and frauds.
Conclusion: How to Avoid Falling Victim to Romance Scam?
These romance scam statistics send a clear message. Scammers are masters of catfishing and social engineering, and falling for such a scam can happen to anyone.
Therefore, never send money to people you’ve only met online!
And don’t forget to double-check this guide on protecting your privacy online.