A new study from Social Catfish looked at how prevalent romance scams were across all 50 states. With Valentine's Day just a week out, scammers look to capitalize on the lonely and desperate, and it seems Iowans fall for these scams more than most other states.

In totality, Americans lost a record $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022, which was up significantly from $547 million the previous year. Amidst these metrics, Iowa ranked #44 in the nation with 154 victims losing $1.5 million to these scams. Not only is it downright embarrassing to fall for these scams, it's also financially punitive.

Photo Credit: 4774344sean
Photo Credit: 4774344sean

Tis the season where scammers conduct their annual assault on dating apps and social media in hopes of getting lonely hearts to fall for their greed. The sophistication of scammers has grown exponentially over the years with cryptocurrency vaulting up the ranks to be the #1 payment method that accounts for 34% of romance scams.

Beyond providing the concerning data, Social Catfish has also supplied some common "tells" that help you determine whether or not your online valentine is a scammer or legitimate. In addition, they also came up with some ways you can avoid the tactics of scammers should you be faced with them.

1. They Ask for Money:

Scammers ordinarily claim to have an emergency and ask for money in the form of crypto or gift cards, which, if sent, are harder to trace.

How to Avoid: Do not send money, crypto or gift cards to anyone you meet online.

Photo Credit: stevendd
Photo Credit: stevendd

2. They Are Too Attractive and Successful: 

This is a funny, albeit truthful one. Scammers love to steal photos of attractive individuals to set up fake profiles. If they seem too beautiful and successful to be true, they probably are.

How to Avoid: Perform a reverse image search to verify their identity.

3. They Won't Be Willing to Meet Nor Video Chat:

If the person you're talking to online keeps making excuses as to why they can not Zoom/Skype with you, or meet you in person, it's almost certainly a scam. The simple follow-up to this bait-and-switch? Cut off all communication with them immediately.

4. They Claim to Serve in the Military or Live Overseas:

Scammers often claim that they serve in the military or live overseas, which negates the latter point of #3 (the ability to meet in person). These are telltale signs you are chatting with a scammer, per Social Catfish.

Photo Credit: grafvision
Photo Credit: grafvision

5. Their Use of Poor Grammar:

The vast majority of romance scammers live in Nigeria, or another foreign country. While they speak English, their written grammar is generally poor and littered with inconsistencies and flagrant typos. It's a huge red flag. Don't send them money.

The Most Scammed States:

Social Catfish also outlined the top 10 most scammed states when it comes to romance, and how much money is lost from the victims in each state:

  • California ($158 million lost)
  • Texas ($60.3 million)
  • Florida ($53.4 million)
  • New York ($33.5 million)
  • Arizona ($25.4 million)
  • Virginia ($24.8 million)
  • Washington ($21.1 million)
  • Ohio ($20.4 million)
  • North Carolina ($18 million)
  • Illinois ($17.7 million)
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See Social Catfish's full study on states that suffer the most from romance scams on their website.

Photos: 7 Hills Brewing Company in Dubuque

Photos: 7 Hills Brewing Company in Dubuque

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

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