Californians Are Most Likely People in U.S. To Fall For Catfishing Scams

Californians are the most likely Americans to fall for dating or "catfishing" scams, a new analysis suggests.

The research, conducted by the technology website Techshielder, found that out of all U.S. states, California reported the highest number of catfishing scams, with 3,110 over 2020.

Adjusted for population, California still comes top, with 0.0078 percent of the population having fallen for catfishing, when someone poses as a romantic interest but is instead lying about their identity—and often, they are trying to con you out of money.

Last year, 20,282 cases of romance scams were reported in the U.S and £375 million ($517 million) was reported lost by victims.

As well as the highest reported cases of catfishing, Californians were also found to have lost the biggest amount of money, losing £86.7 million ($119 million) overall, which works out as over £27,800 ($38,310) per victim.

Florida came second with number of scamming reports, with 1,603 in 2020 and an overall money loss of £28.9 million ($39.8 million). Texas came third with 1,602 reports and £30.4 million ($41.8 million) lost in total.

Adjusted for population, Arizona actually came second, with just under 0.0076 percent of the population impacted by catfishing, and Washington came third with a similar percentage.

In terms of number of scamming reports, New York state came fourth with 1,103 reports and an £18.9 million ($26.5 million) total loss. Pennsylvania ranked fifth with 736 reports, amounting to a loss of more than £8.8 million ($12.13 million).

South Dakota reported the lowest amount of romance scams, only 32 last year. Victims from this state have declared an overall loss of £421,527 ($580,906).

Michigan has the highest average loss per victim (£36,006, $49,619), following just behind is the District of Columbia with £31,746 ($43,749), then California.

Lasse Walstad, co-founder of Techshielder told Newsweek: "California is understandably the hardest hit by catfishing, as a state with not only a large population but more wealth than many others US states. This means Californians should be more vigilant when it comes to spotting romance scams.

"Some ways to do this would be looking out for the signs such as: Seeing if the person offers up good-looking photos and has many stories about their financial success. Oftentimes, if it's too good to be true, then it usually is. An alarm bell should be ringing if they seem 'too perfect'".

Techshielder website also offered other tips on spotting someone who is catfishing you. It said that people who are in a rush to switch modes of communication and move to relationship milestones are likely to be scammers.

Catfishers also tend to repeatedly postpone video chatting or have excuses on why they can't meet you face to face.

Scammers of course will ask for financial support. Catfishers may do this by attempting to pull on your heartstrings by giving a story about hard times and that the money would be greatly appreciated, the website said.

iStock Catfish Valentine's Day
Stock image of a woman on a dating app. Californians are the most likely Americans to fall for dating or ‘catfishing’ scams, a new study has revealed. iStock