I have to double check all my emails these days to be on the lookout for scammers. I’m also finding lots of scam artists on my social media messages. This is not a new thing, but it seems to be escalating. These thieves are trying to make a quick buck at the expense of a certain group of people.


Who Is Most Likely to Be Scammed?

I am sorry to report the number 1 target of these thieves happens to be older, single women. There is, believe it or not, a strong connection with romance, money and people searching desperately for love.

The website socialcatfish.com has released a new study based on FBI data which shows nearly 70,000 Americans lost over $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022. A whopping $1.3 billion! How does that compare to 2021? The romance scam losses totaled about $550 million lost in 2021.  Romance scams overwhelmingly target women, with 78% of respondents being female, 44% making middle income, and 75% possessing some form of a college education. In addition to many victims being educated career women, romance scams have a heavy impact on women from the ages of 35 ranging all the way up to the elderly years.

(Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

How Do the Scammers Get into Your Wallet?

The scammers are taking a little more time to scam you out of cash, but they are getting more of it. They will typically meet you on social media or a dating website and then work hard to develop a “loving relationship”. They then lower a gentle boom and convince you to loan them a small amount of money for some sort of emergency or special situation. They will then start asking for larger amounts as the relationship grows.

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

What Kind of Person Does This?

This is what they do. They are creeps and criminals and this is what they do to make a living. You can bet they are scamming many people at the same time. They will have great photos of themselves showing how handsome and successful they are. That’s the part of this process that attracts victims into the net.

The report says most of the scammers are from Nigeria where they operate out of offices around the clock. Many other companies are in the same business and they compete with each other to see what company can bring in the most cash.

Hillary, Flickr
Hillary, Flickr

Do Louisiana Residents Fall for These Scams?

How do the numbers look in Louisiana? According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and Social Catfish, the Bayou State is about mid-pack. We are #26 for the number of romance scams in the state. More than $9 million dollars was lost to romance scammers in Louisiana in 2022. 679 cases were reported to authorities, but there are probably many more victims. They are just too embarrassed to report it to authorities.

How Much Money Is Lost, on Average?

The poll found 10% of victims lost more than $100,000 with 4% losing more than $200,000. The average loss in Louisiana is about $5,000 dollars.

Tips to Avoid Online Scams

Do not give money to anyone you have never met in person.

Do not give out personal information if you have never met in person

Perform a reverse search using photos, emails, phone numbers, and addresses to verify if the person or entity you are speaking to online is who they say they are.

Watch out for red flags including poor grammar, refusing to video chat, being in the military, working overseas, asking to be paid in gift cards or cryptocurrency.

Use a password manager to create many passwords so if one has been compromised the rest of your accounts are protected.

Report any scam immediately to the FTC, the FBI and your financial institution.

The top four states with the highest number of romance scams and losses are:

  1. California – 9,133 romance scams with a total loss of $193.7 million
  2. Texas – 5,642 romance scams with a total loss of $80.6 million
  3. Florida – 5,472 romance scams with a total loss of $85 million
  4. New York – 4,152 romance scams with a total loss of $68.2 million

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