PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Feeling unlucky in love in the Pacific Northwest? Apparently, you aren’t the only one — a recent study shows that Oregon and Washington are among the states with the most victims of “catfishing.”
Catfishing occurs when people make a fake social media profile that leads to an online relationship. Documentary-style shows such as MTV’s “Catfish” and Netflix’s “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist” have shared stories of some of the worst catfishing scams, and there are plenty more.
Informational online privacy website All About Cookies used data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission to determine the impact of romance scams, and which states’ residents were being impacted the most.
The FTC found that, in 2021, reported romance scams led to $547 million in losses — this is an almost 80% increase from the data recorded in 2020.
And according to All About Cookies’ research, the problem persisted last year. The website reported that romance scams cost Americans an average $132.5 million per quarter in 2022.
Oregon was No. 6 on AAC’s list of “catfish capitals.” The website said that there were about 8.5 catfishing victims for every 100,000 Oregonians in 2021. Washington state follows closely behind at No. 7, also with about 8.5 catfishing victims for every 100,000 residents.
Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona and the District of Columbia were the top five locations with the most romance scams per capita. Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Georgia and Illinois were the states with the least cases of catfishing.
Furthermore, the study shows that romance scams affect older age groups disproportionately.
“While the number of people targeted and victimized by catfishing drops significantly with age, it’s worth noting that older Americans are disproportionately affected financially in these scams,” AAC said. “On average, romance scams cost Americans 70 and older more than $30,000 per incident — a rate more than eight times higher than cases involving victims under 30.”
The website added that internet users can update their privacy settings and not share sensitive information to avoid being a target for these online scams.