Catfishing has been present and common since social media, and when people started to talk to strangers online.
The term, however, started getting popular back in 2010 by the documentary film ‘Catfish’. It later became a series on MTV gaining a lot of popularity.
Unfortunately, catfishing has a large range of consequences and isn’t as romantic as the Tom Hanks movie You’ve Got Mail portrayed it.
Billions of dollars are lost to catfishing: The shocking statistics of online catfishing!
Catfishing is a type of fraud that can be romantic, financial, identity theft, cyberbullying, revenge, and the like.
Some of the biggest social media risks are considered to be phishing and malware risks. 
One of the most popular social media, Facebook, reported that 1.3 Billion accounts in the app were fake. Making catfishing highly common among us.
Catfish victims indicate mental health disorders after their experience. The mental health disorders range from stress, depression, and anxiety. 
Taking this into account, the consequences of catfishing are not only wasting time. Here’s what you need to know about catfishing statistics:
- Over the last 5 years $18.7 Billion were lost to internet scams.
- It is estimated that 1 out of 10 dating profiles on dating services is fake. 
- Back in 2021, people lost $547 million to romance scams only. Then in 2022, loss to romance scams reached $1.3 billion. 
- In 2021, IC3 received reports of $956 million in losses to romance scams or confidence fraud. 
- People lost $13.6 million to sextortion —sextortion is defined as a threat of distributing your sensitive material (e.g. sexual) if their demands aren’t met. 
- IC3 reported $6.9 billion in victim losses to internet fraud in 2021. Also, $235 million was lost to social media fraud, and $278 million to identity theft. 
- Romance scam victims lost $429 million in 2021 using cryptocurrency. 
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (C3) reported to receive 552,000 internet scam complaints per year on average.
- 83% of people report having lied about themselves to some extent on their dating profile. 
|ONLINE SCAM VICTIMS FINANCIAL LOSS (BY AGE GROUP)|
|AGE||MONEY LOST TO ONLINE CATFISHING|
|Under 20||$101.4 Million|
|20 – 29||$431.1 Million|
|30 – 39||$937.3 Million|
|40 – 49||$1.19 Billion|
|50 – 59||$1.26 Billion|
THE MAIN MOTIVATIONS BEHIND ONLINE CATFISHERS’ BEHAVIORS
- 41% of catfishers reported loneliness as their prime reason to engage in catfishing behavior online. 
- Dissatisfaction with physical appearance is another common reason why catfishers choose to catfish online. 
- A large number of catfishers are motivated by loneliness, dejection, and uncertainty. 
- High levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance makes a person more likely to be both a target of catfish and a catfish perpetrator. 
What are the most common lies that the catfishers tell?
40% of people who lost money to a romance scam said it began on social media, and 19% on an app or website. 
Considering that, a conversation has to begin and catfishers use a strategy to lure their victims in.
Over 60% of people reported losing money to romance scams in 2022. With 24% of those people reporting their money lost using gift cards. 
Online catfishers pave the road to get to your gift card. But how?
In the analysis of 8,070 (in 2022) romance scam reports, these were the top 5 lies to be told by catfishers :
|THE TOP 5 LIES TOLD BY CATFISHERS|
|1. “I or someone close to me is sick, hurt, or in jail” – 24%|
|2. “I can teach you how to invest” – 18%|
|3. “I’m in the military far away” – 18%|
|4. “I need help with an important delivery” – 18%|
|5. “We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage” – 12%|
Which gender gets catfished more?
Both genders get catfished equally. Sometimes there might be a period where women might get targeted more than men.
Yet, this matter is beyond gender.
|Gender||Percentage as of 2022|
|Women who use dating apps||27%|
|Men who use dating apps||34%|
This also depends on which gender uses more dating apps.
- In 2022 shows that 27% of women and 34% of men said that they have ever used online dating or dating apps. 
- 38% of men have catfished someone, and 23% of women have done the same. 
But what defines whether men or women get catfished more is the type of online dating app they use.
Each app like Tinder or Bumble has different policies and rules when it comes to catfishing.
For example, Bumble is an app that offers you the chance to text first to the man with whom you like to interact.
But we cannot say the same for Tinder. Everyone can swipe right and message you first there.
Yet, you can still report a catfish to both platforms.
There is also a new dating app called Hulah where you can talk to a guy only if he is recommended by another woman.
You can ask that woman questions about that guy and decide whether you want to talk to him or not.
This makes it much safer to use and decreases the chances of being catfished.
The Shocking Catfishing Statistics in the US!
(Statistics of how much dollars people have lost in the U.S. due to romantic catfishing)
Catfishing happens the most in the US. Leading the country to lose billions of dollars in short time spans.
Stacy Jo Dixon claims 13% of people have been catfished in a year or interacted with one.
She claims that during 2022, 1 out of 10 people (adults) in the US have had contact with a catfish.
Here are some key highlights from Catfishing statistics in the US :
- In 2021, catfishing cost American victims over $500 million. That number increased in 2022 by 11.2%.
- It is estimated that, in 2023, there will be about 4 times more catfishing reports than in 2019.
- In the US people aged 70+ lost over $30,000.
- Alaska and Nevada have the highest online catfishing numbers.
- Back in 2021, in North Dakota, there were only 58 catfishing reports to the FBI. However, only those cases resulted in over $12 million loss, averaging $200k per victim.
- Based on FTC reports, the loss of money due to online scamming was 80% higher than in 2020.
- In research made by Ani Petrosyan (2023), it’s stated that during 2021, people lost almost 574 million U.S. dollars.
|MONEY LOST TO CATFISHING IN THE US (AGE GROUPS)|
|AGE RANGE||MONEY LOST|
|20 – 29||$64.3 Million|
|30 – 39||$156 Million|
|40 – 49||$201 Million|
|50 – 59||$277.4 Million|
|60 – 69||$363.5 Million|
|70 – 79||$211.8 Million|
How many people get catfished in the UK, and Australia?
Catfishing is a global problem and it is very evident in English and non-English speaking countries too.
– The UK was ranked the 4th state with the most catfishing cases back in 2020.
One of the facts of catfishing is that the UK has been placed as the 4th state to report catfishing cases.
This research was done back in 2020 by Stacy Jo Dixon when the statistics show that 978 scam/catfishing cases were reported during that year.
Hence, there are also multiple cases in which people might have been catfished but never spoke about it or even reported it.
– Australia had fewer cases of catfishing during 2021/2022.
Catfishing is pretty common in Australia too.
According to the statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, people are scammed (not only romantically) from age 15 and over.
Yet, opposing the UK and the US, Mr. Milne (ABS head of crime) claims that the percentage of frauds (of any type) went down between 2021 and 2022.
Who is usually the victim of catfishing?
Research and statistics collected show how vulnerable people are more likely to be victims of catfishing.
– Older people are more likely to be victims of catfishing.
FBI claims that every year millions of elderly people are catfished or scammed.
This happens because elderly people may not be familiar with fraud trends, are alone, and maybe they tend to be polite.
Catfishers are mostly contacting older people directly even through dating apps such as Ourtime, Tinder, etc.
– Single parents are the ones who will be easily targeted by a catfisher.
Single parents might be a little more lonely and sometimes are searching for a second chance at love after having their hearts shattered.
Thus, a Tinder or any type of catfish would use this type of vulnerability and fulfill their needs.
Also, special agent Christine Beining states that catfishers usually seek women who are vulnerable and people who are above 50.
Men are targeted also but women mostly.
How can you protect yourself from being catfished and where can you report it?
If you have never been catfished but want to date online safely, then you should start by checking the background of the person you’re talking to.
You can use different apps and websites to do it which can help you to not cross any type of boundaries.
1. Do a background check.
To save yourself from being catfished, immediately do a background check.
You can look this person up on Google, social media, or even LinkedIn if necessary.
On the other hand, you can search them on public records of sex offenders in your country.
There are also different free and paid sites such as Social Catfish, Spokeo, or Swindler Buster that will help you to do a dating background check.
If you choose to use Social Catfish then you can enter their:
- Name or Surname;
- Their address or phone number and just click search;
You should know that to do an unlimited search for three days on Social Catfish, you need to pay $5.73.
2. Report their profile to that certain app.
Each app offers you the opportunity to report a profile that is a catfish or a scammer.
Even if you have been talking to them on Facebook, Instagram, Meet Me, or any other dating app, you can block and report them.
If someone is impersonating you, you can use this form to send to Tinder.
3. File a complaint.
Each state has different forms of filing a complaint regarding fraud and catfishing.
- If you live in the US and they used your money or asked for your bank account, you can ask for help from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Yet, if you have just been threatened or just catfished, you can also talk to FightCyberCrime.org.
- If you live in the UK, you can contact Action Fraud. You can report online or call them on 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, you can contact the police in Scotland.
The conclusion: How many cases of catfishing are there?
As we have delved into the catfishing world and the percentage of people getting scammed online, we came to the conclusion that the majority of people have dealt with catfish.
The numbers presented in this article are based on reliable sources yet these numbers might change from time to time.
Thus, there might never be a precise percentage of people getting catfished.
Yet, you need to be very cautious as you decide to enter the online dating world.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
 Catfishing: The What, How, and Why; MARCH 21, 2022; RACHEL DESIMONE
 U.S. adults who have ever used online dating services 2022, by gender
Published by Stacy Jo Dixon, Apr 4, 2023
 Marissa A. Mosley, Morgan Lancaster, M. L. Parker & Kelly Campbell (2020) Adult attachment and online dating deception: a theory modernized, Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 35:2, 227-243, DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2020.1714577
 To Catfish or Not to Catfish? The Ethics of Online Deception; Scott R. Stroud (2018)
 Hook, line & sinker : why people catfish others on online dating apps; (2023) http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-01H2Z8KHRT5VCQCTX9GAY9FXBE
 We asked catfish why they trick people online—it’s not about money
by Eric Vanman, The Conversation (2018)
 Understanding threats in social media; Deloitte (2019)
 February 2023 Jurnal Ilmiah LISKI (Lingkar Studi Komunikasi) 9(1):48
LicenseCC BY-SA 4.0
 What to Know About Romance Scams: Consumer FTC.gov (2022)
 Consumer Protection: Data Spotlight; FTC.gov report (2023)
 IC3 PSA on Sextortion for more information (2021)
 Federal Bureau of Investigation: Internet Crime Report 2021
 IC3 PSA I-091621-PSA (2021)
 Catfish Capitals: These Are the Places You’re Most Likely To Fall Victim to a Catfishing Scam; Josh Koebert, Catherine McNally; (2023)
LINKS AND OTHER SOURCES
N. Singh, M. A. Alawami and H. Kim, “When social networks meet payment: a security perspective,” 2023 17th International Conference on Ubiquitous Information Management and Communication (IMCOM), Seoul, Korea, Republic of, 2023, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.1109/IMCOM56909.2023.10035613.
Marguerite DeLiema, Julia Volker & Arthur Worley (2023) Consumer Experiences with Gift Card Payment Scams: Causes, Consequences, and Implications for Consumer Protection, Victims & Offenders, 18:7, 1282-1310, DOI: 10.1080/15564886.2023.2244468
DeLiema, M., Witt, P. Profiling consumers who reported mass marketing scams: demographic characteristics and emotional sentiments associated with victimization. Secur J (2023). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41284-023-00401-5