Online Romance Scam Data by State (2023)

Here’s some eye-popping statistics that you probably want to sit down for. According to the most recent Internet Crimes Report published by the FBI, just last year people in the US reported $956,039,740 in romance scam losses1 to the iC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).

Factor in the fact that this is only the losses reported by the 24,299 victims and the fact that it’s estimated only 4.8% of people report these types of crimes2, and that figure that is already almost a billion dollars could be as high as almost $20 Billion (with a B).

While we’re big proponents of online dating and think it can be a safe and effective way to find love, it’s irresponsible to deny that there are risks. But are those risks the same across the board for everyone? Are there different age groups that are more susceptible? What state is the most dangerous for online dating scams and romance scams?

We’re going to answer all of these questions and more in this online dating scam data study.

Key Takeaways from the Data

  • Nevada ranked the most dangerous state in the country for online dating scams. The state reported over $15 million in losses with a population of only a little over 3 million people.
  • Mississippi ranked the least dangerous state in the country for online dating scams. The state only had 127 victims who lost a reported $3,219,615 over the past year.
  • Californians lost the most total money at $183,928,230. Maine reported the lowest total losses at only $386,894.

In the United States, your odds of being the victim of a romance scam are about 1 in 16,000.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Methodology

By using publicly available data from government sources, our team created a weighted algorithm to assess which state had the highest or lowest risk when it came to online dating scams and romance scams. States were ranked across (5) different categories and were assessed a point value based on those rankings. Each category was assigned a weighting based on impact. The total scores were added up to determine the rankings.

The (5) categories and their respective weighted percentages were:

Logos of the methodology groups studied
  • Victims per 1,000 Residents (40%) – Our team calculated the number of victims of this type of fraud per 1,000 residents of each state. The higher the victim rate, the worse the state was ranked in this category.
  • Total Monetary Losses per Resident (40%) – Our team took the total monetary losses for the state and divided that by the total number of residents. The higher the monetary amount per resident, the worse the state was ranked in this category.
  • Potential Susceptibility by Age (10%) – Our team collected population data by age group for each state and compared that with the potential susceptibility of each age bracket. The more residents a state had within the more susceptible age brackets, the worse the state was ranked in this category.
  • Number of Police per 1,000 Residents (5%) – Our team looked at the number of police employed by each state per 1,000 residents. The lower the rate, the worse the state was ranked in this category.
  • Overall Computer Usage Time (5%) – Our team looked at the average time residents spend online each day. The higher the rate, the worse the state was ranked in this category.

Data Licensing

Media sources are free to reference the findings and data from this study under the following conditions:

  • Proper attribution in the form of a link to this study page with mention of Healthy Framework as the source of the information.
  • For additional information or more data points, please reach out to [email protected]

The Most Dangerous States for Online Dating Ranked

Here are the top 10 most dangerous states for online dating based on our most recent data study. The complete list of all 50 states may be found right below this list.

The Most Dangerous States Top 10 list

Every State Ranked from Worst to Safest

Here is our complete list of the most dangerous states for online dating ranked from the least safe (1) to the most safe (50). Additionally, we’ve included the two largest data points (Victims per 1,000 Residents (40%) and Total Monetary Losses per Resident (40%) and their rankings for your convenience.

RankStateTotal $ Lost$ Lost per Pop. Rank# of VictimsVictims per 1,000 RankOdds of Being a Victim (est.)
1Nevada$15,095,654235221 in 8,800
2Alaska$3,532,02038711 in 8400
3Florida$70,483,5549173881 in 12,500
4Wyoming$1,713,763125531 in 10,500
5Washington$31,958,914665751 in 11,800
6Oregon$12,077,8291536161 in 11,800
7Arizona$18,827,3461665341 in 11,000
8Colorado$24,492,8975445101 in 13,000
9California$183,928,23043023111 in 13,000
10Maryland$20,678,6218464131 in 13,300
11Rhode Island$4,519,628772171 in 15,200
12North Dakota$12,138,780158141 in 13,500
13Hawaii$4,193,6651391181 in 16,000
14Virginia$22,143,54918613151 in 14,000
15Delaware$2,568,0481762191 in 16,000
16Massachusetts$21,796,69411415241 in 17,000
17Montana$1,783,9252982121 in 13,000
18Utah$7,710,0251925691 in 13,000
19Texas$65,430,519211752221 in 16,700
20New Jersey$30,142,76710517311 in 18,000
21Minnesota$11,823,20324340231 in 16,800
22New York$57,577,392141168281 in 17,200
23Pennsylvania$30,055,49120723321 in 18,000
24Michigan$20,403,01825579291 in 17,400
25Missouri$8,852,97034372201 in 16,500
26New Mexico$1,978,6274517171 in 12,400
27Tennessee$14,569,39823366351 in 19,000
28Nebraska$3,315,39227115261 in 17,000
29Vermont$528,7094643161 in 15,000
30North Carolina$17,352,32028539361 in 19,300
31Connecticut$6,340,17326178411 in 20,200
32South Carolina$6,821,16036294301 in 17,500
33Oklahoma$5,656,88435239211 in 16,500
34Wisconsin$7,526,79740348251 in 17,000
35South Dakota$1,282,2283352271 in 17,000
36Kentucky$7,386,81830227391 in 19,900
37West Virginia$1,458,0194795341 in 18,900
38Indiana$8,942,07337369331 in 18,400
39Louisiana$10,322,44622178491 in 16,000
40Kansas$4,487,06932147401 in 20,000
41New Hampshire$1,014,9704871371 in 19,500
42Illinois$19,785,61231591461 in 21,600
43Arkansas$1,220,45449153381 in 19,700
44Ohio$14,964,91641553441 in 21,300
45Iowa$3,522,92842142471 in 22,500
46Maine$386,8945067431 in 20,300
47Georgia$13,771,53439500451 in 21,500
48Alabama$6,552,3313888501 in 57,000
49Idaho$1,986,9574491421 in 20,300
50Mississippi$3,219,61543127481 in 23,300

What Age Groups Are Most Susceptible to Romance Scams?

People in the US aged 60+ are the most susceptible to romance scams. The 40-49 year old age bracket is the second most susceptible.

Our team looked at iC3 data provided to the FBI for the number of victims in each age bracket and the total reported monetary losses in each age bracket. Giving equal weight to both data sets, our team ranked which age bracket was most susceptible to this type of fraud. Keep in mind that this data is for ALL internet crimes and not just romance or confidence schemes.

Rankings are arranged from most susceptible (1) to least susceptible (5).

Age GroupRank% of Total VictimsTotal $ Lost% of Total $ LostAvg. $ Lost per VictimOur Metric
20-29516.77%$431,100,0007.84%$6,212.7124.61
30-39421.37%$937,300,00017.05%$10,597.1938.42
40-49221.55%$1,190,000,00021.64%$13,343.243.19
50-59317.99%$1,260,000,00022.92%$16,921.8440.91
60+122.32%$1,680,000,00030.55%$18,187.53
52.87

Key Takeaway(s)

  • As we theorized, the older population was the most susceptible to online scams. Most likely this has to do with an increased emotional vulnerability and less technological knowledge and experience.
  • The average monetary loss by age bracket showed that as the victims got older, the amount they lost got larger. Here is the average amount lost per victim claim by age bracket.

What State Had the Most Victims Reported?

picture of three states showing how many victims were reported

As you can see from the data, California had the most total victims reported. However, when you factor in the size of the population, you see that the highest rate of victims reported per 1,000 residents

State# of Victims (a)Victims per 1000
Alabama880.017490294
Alaska870.118702783
Arizona6530.090947797
Arkansas1530.050759821
California30230.076528443
Colorado4450.076924872
Connecticut1780.049480703
Delaware620.062492818
Florida17380.080501716
Georgia5000.046599069
Hawaii910.06271351
Idaho910.049210416
Illinois5910.046220334
Indiana3690.054354239
Iowa1420.04450614
Kansas1470.050035416
Kentucky2270.050361125
Louisiana1780.038265876
Maine670.049136193
Maryland4640.07516355
Massachusetts4150.059321909
Michigan5790.057499933
Minnesota3400.059546202
Mississippi1270.042932369
Missouri3720.060448508
Montana820.075431778
Nebraska1150.058594486
Nevada3520.112978103
New Hampshire710.051502009
New Jersey5170.055761146
New Mexico1710.08072168
New York11680.058085479
North Carolina5390.051581687
North Dakota580.074404953
Ohio5530.04687427
Oklahoma2390.060278765
Oregon3610.085045332
Pennsylvania7230.055639181
Rhode Island720.065672758
South Carolina2940.057289304
South Dakota520.058571816
Tennessee3660.052847262
Texas17520.059933347
Utah2560.077958819
Vermont430.066885158
Virginia6130.070978065
Washington6570.085059213
West Virginia950.053030557
Wisconsin3480.059020354
Wyoming550.095220782

What State Had Victims Who Lost the Most Money?

picture of three states showing how much money victims lost

When it comes to the most money lost, California is far out front with over $180 million lost, which is more than double Florida in second place. If you look at the losses based on the population size of the state, though, North Dakota is over three times higher than second place Nevada.

And if you look at the size of the scam in each state (total money lost divided by the number of victims),

StateTotal $ Lost$ Lost per Resident
Alabama$6,552,331$1.30
Alaska$3,532,020$4.82
Arizona$18,827,346$2.62
Arkansas$1,220,454$0.40
California$183,928,230$4.66
Colorado$24,492,897$4.23
Connecticut$6,340,173$1.76
Delaware$2,568,048$2.59
Florida$70,483,554$3.26
Georgia$13,771,534$1.28
Hawaii$4,193,665$2.89
Idaho$1,986,957$1.07
Illinois$19,785,612$1.55
Indiana$8,942,073$1.32
Iowa$3,522,928$1.10
Kansas$4,487,069$1.53
Kentucky$7,386,818$1.64
Louisiana$10,322,446$2.22
Maine$386,894$0.28
Maryland$20,678,621$3.35
Massachusetts$21,796,694$3.12
Michigan$20,403,018$2.03
Minnesota$11,823,203$2.07
Mississippi$3,219,615$1.09
Missouri$8,852,970$1.44
Montana$1,783,925$1.64
Nebraska$3,315,392$1.69
Nevada$15,095,654$4.85
New Hampshire$1,014,970$0.74
New Jersey$30,142,767$3.25
New Mexico$1,978,627$0.93
New York$57,577,392$2.86
North Carolina$17,352,320$1.66
North Dakota$12,138,780$15.57
Ohio$14,964,916$1.27
Oklahoma$5,656,884$1.43
Oregon$12,077,829$2.85
Pennsylvania$30,055,491$2.31
Rhode Island$4,519,628$4.12
South Carolina$6,821,160$1.33
South Dakota$1,282,228$1.44
Tennessee$14,569,398$2.10
Texas$65,430,519$2.24
Utah$7,710,025$2.35
Vermont$528,709$0.82
Virginia$22,143,549$2.56
Washington$31,958,914$4.14
West Virginia$1,458,019$0.81
Wisconsin$7,526,797$1.28
Wyoming$1,713,763$2.97

What is a Romance Scam? What are Common Scams?

Romance scams, often perpetrated through online dating websites, are fraudulent schemes to pray on the emotionally vulnerable to extract money. Often, a scammer befriends a victim and cultivates some form of online romantic relationship. At some point during the interaction, the scammer will ask for money for something. Because the victim feels an emotional and romantic connection to the scammer, they are much more likely to send the money.

Here are some of the most common questions people have about online dating romance scams.

How are the scammers able to fool the victim?

Scammers often use photos of real people and even copy profiles from real people. This is the first step to seeming real. When the victim asks to video chat or meet the scammer in person (which is highly recommended, the scammer has an excuse as to why they can’t. Often, the scammer pretends to be an offshore oil worker, someone in the military, or a traveling executive—all professions where they may be out of town a lot and might not have access to good enough cell phone or WIFI service to video chat.

Additionally, the scammers will concoct elaborate stories that do a masterful job of preying on the heart strings of their victims. They might reference losing their house, having a sick child, or needing money to invest in a business opportunity.

Another popular online romance scam is where the scammer builds a connection and then convinces their victim to send them nude photos of themselves. Once the photos are sent, the scammer threatens to post the photos all over the internet and share them with their family if they’re not paid a large sum of money.

While most of these scams can be avoided through education about what to look out for and how to verify a match, the information doesn’t reach new singles as quickly as it should.

What is the average dollar amount that people are scammed for?

According to our data, the average dollar amount people aged 20 or older are scammed for is $13,052.49. Bear in mind that this is just the average as a lot of people are scammed for small amounts of money and some are scammed for hundreds of thousands.

Sources:


Written By: Healthy Framework Team

The Healthy Framework team has a combined 50+ years of experience in the online dating industry. Collectively, the team has reviewed over 300 dating apps and is known as one of the leaders in the relationship advice and information space. The team’s work has been featured on The Economist, People Magazine, Parade, Women’s Health, Her Campus, and more.