The verb “catfish,” or to lure (someone) into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014.
Oxford credited emergence of the term to the 2010 documentary ‘Catfish.’ MTV’s unscripted TV show of the same name, investigating relationships predicated upon assuming a fallacious identity online, helped bring the word into the mainstream.
Twelve years later, catfishing is a common part of our English vernacular. Commonplace, too, are the various applications of catfishing used to take advantage of people looking for human connection.
Unsuspecting victims believe they are developing a genuine romantic relationship with a person online who slowly gains their trust, eventually asking for money.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that a whopping $547 million was lost to romance scammers last year, up 80% from 2020.
Which States Are Most Vulnerable to Romance Scams?
California tops the list with over 3,000 victims totaling almost $184 million lost in 2021. This is more than twice the money lost in runner-up Florida, who's victims lost about $70 million with 1,738 victims.
Following closely was Texas, which lost about $65 million to romance scams across 1,752 victims. At the bottom of the list was Maine with $386,894, Vermont losing $528,709, and DC losing $861,723.
Given that California, Florida, and Texas are the most densely populated states, it’s safe to assume that this is the most significant factor in their losses. So it doesn't really matter where you live.