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
- Results – The Most Dangerous States for Online Dating Ranked
- What Age Groups Are Most Susceptible to Romance Scams?
- What State Had the Most Victims Reported?
- What State Had Victims Who Lost the Most Money?
- What is a Romance Scam? What are Common Scams?
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
|Rank||State||Total $ Lost||$ Lost per Pop. Rank||# of Victims||Victims per 1,000 Rank||Odds of Being a Victim (est.)|
|1||Nevada||$15,095,654||2||352||2||1 in 8,800|
|2||Alaska||$3,532,020||3||87||1||1 in 8400|
|3||Florida||$70,483,554||9||1738||8||1 in 12,500|
|4||Wyoming||$1,713,763||12||55||3||1 in 10,500|
|5||Washington||$31,958,914||6||657||5||1 in 11,800|
|6||Oregon||$12,077,829||15||361||6||1 in 11,800|
|7||Arizona||$18,827,346||16||653||4||1 in 11,000|
|8||Colorado||$24,492,897||5||445||10||1 in 13,000|
|9||California||$183,928,230||4||3023||11||1 in 13,000|
|10||Maryland||$20,678,621||8||464||13||1 in 13,300|
|11||Rhode Island||$4,519,628||7||72||17||1 in 15,200|
|12||North Dakota||$12,138,780||1||58||14||1 in 13,500|
|13||Hawaii||$4,193,665||13||91||18||1 in 16,000|
|14||Virginia||$22,143,549||18||613||15||1 in 14,000|
|15||Delaware||$2,568,048||17||62||19||1 in 16,000|
|16||Massachusetts||$21,796,694||11||415||24||1 in 17,000|
|17||Montana||$1,783,925||29||82||12||1 in 13,000|
|18||Utah||$7,710,025||19||256||9||1 in 13,000|
|19||Texas||$65,430,519||21||1752||22||1 in 16,700|
|20||New Jersey||$30,142,767||10||517||31||1 in 18,000|
|21||Minnesota||$11,823,203||24||340||23||1 in 16,800|
|22||New York||$57,577,392||14||1168||28||1 in 17,200|
|23||Pennsylvania||$30,055,491||20||723||32||1 in 18,000|
|24||Michigan||$20,403,018||25||579||29||1 in 17,400|
|25||Missouri||$8,852,970||34||372||20||1 in 16,500|
|26||New Mexico||$1,978,627||45||171||7||1 in 12,400|
|27||Tennessee||$14,569,398||23||366||35||1 in 19,000|
|28||Nebraska||$3,315,392||27||115||26||1 in 17,000|
|29||Vermont||$528,709||46||43||16||1 in 15,000|
|30||North Carolina||$17,352,320||28||539||36||1 in 19,300|
|31||Connecticut||$6,340,173||26||178||41||1 in 20,200|
|32||South Carolina||$6,821,160||36||294||30||1 in 17,500|
|33||Oklahoma||$5,656,884||35||239||21||1 in 16,500|
|34||Wisconsin||$7,526,797||40||348||25||1 in 17,000|
|35||South Dakota||$1,282,228||33||52||27||1 in 17,000|
|36||Kentucky||$7,386,818||30||227||39||1 in 19,900|
|37||West Virginia||$1,458,019||47||95||34||1 in 18,900|
|38||Indiana||$8,942,073||37||369||33||1 in 18,400|
|39||Louisiana||$10,322,446||22||178||49||1 in 16,000|
|40||Kansas||$4,487,069||32||147||40||1 in 20,000|
|41||New Hampshire||$1,014,970||48||71||37||1 in 19,500|
|42||Illinois||$19,785,612||31||591||46||1 in 21,600|
|43||Arkansas||$1,220,454||49||153||38||1 in 19,700|
|44||Ohio||$14,964,916||41||553||44||1 in 21,300|
|45||Iowa||$3,522,928||42||142||47||1 in 22,500|
|46||Maine||$386,894||50||67||43||1 in 20,300|
|47||Georgia||$13,771,534||39||500||45||1 in 21,500|
|48||Alabama||$6,552,331||38||88||50||1 in 57,000|
|49||Idaho||$1,986,957||44||91||42||1 in 20,300|
|50||Mississippi||$3,219,615||43||127||48||1 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 Group||Rank||% of Total Victims||Total $ Lost||% of Total $ Lost||Avg. $ Lost per Victim||Our Metric|
- 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?
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|
What State Had Victims Who Lost the Most Money?
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),
|State||Total $ Lost||$ Lost per Resident|
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.
- 1. https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2021_IC3Report.pdf
- 2. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3852323
- 3. https://www.bls.gov/
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 Zoosk, Tinder, The Economist, People Magazine, Parade, Women’s Health, Her Campus, Fox, and more.