A costly £157million was lost to dating scams worldwide last year, with online romance fraud setting Australian victims back an eyewatering $38million in 2020, according to a new study.
Catfishing scams – also known as dating scams or romance scams – have seen a huge increase over the course of the pandemic. Fraudsters, who scam someone out of money by pretending to want a relationship, have left many people broken-hearted but also out of pocket – on average, £12,711 per a victim.
A recent study by Techshielder has analysed international and domestic reports to find the place you are most likely to fall victim to a dating scam and the monetary loss per victim. The average amount of money reported lost by victims was calculated by dividing the overall money lost by the number of reports.
Social media platforms are the most popular method for scammers with 1,201 cases of romance scams on social networking sites. Mobile applications were the second most popular (845 reports) with the internet following in third (680).
Reports show that the Philippines runs the highest amount of dating scams. More than 1,300 romance fraud cases have been reported against the country – responsible for £3.2million in financial loss.
Following next is Nigeria, which accounts for £12.1million in scams with an average loss per victim of £10,700. With Canada in third, snaffling £5.6million and breaking the hearts of 1,054 victims.
Online romance fraud has cost Australian victims $38million, with New South Wales citizens the most likely to fall victim to catfishing. New South Wales documented the highest number of cases (866) and the highest amount of money lost (£7,283,688). On average, each victim lost a massive £8,411 with February the most popular month for catfishing with 398 reports.
Meanwhile, Tasmania is the state where you are least likely to be a victim of catfishing with 53 cases recorded during 2020. Recording an overall loss of £244,479, the state also has the second-lowest total loss.
In the UK, women (57 per cent) were most likely to be a victim of dating scams with Londoners the most likely to be catfished.
Catfishing has been defined as creating a fake profile to attract someone online. Fraudsters befriend victims over the internet in the hope that they can get them to send money.
However, catfishing is not always a romantic relationship, but can also come in the form of family, friends, or business relationships.
Techshielder offers the following tips:
- If it’s too good to be true, then it usually is – e.g if the person offers up amazing photos and stories about their financial success
- Scammers will try very quickly to get you to move to talk by email, messenger, or phone
- Fraudsters often declare their love for you quickly, or even talk about relationship milestones like marriage