A new report has found that online scammers stole a record $4.2 billion from US citizens in 2020.
As people spent more time online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, catfishing and phishing scams became rife, stealing hoards of sensitive information. The $4.2 billion lost in 2020 marks a serious rise in monetary loses compared to 2017-2019, which was $7.6 billion split across three years.
Victims in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Ohio lost the most, ranging from $621 million in California to $170 million in Ohio, according to the report based on a Social Catfish survey of 722 scam victims and data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and FBI released in 2021.
In contrast, scammers stole the least amount of money from victims living in South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, New Hampshire and Wyoming.
Dating apps are one of the most popular ways for scammers to target their victims, breaking down their barriers by pretending to start a romantic relationship with them.
Earlier this year, the FTC reported that $300 million was lost to romance fraud specifically during 2020.
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