SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – You may have heard the term “catfished” and thought how does that happen and who does it happen to? Well, according to a new report by website high-speed internet.com, Utah ranks high for states where people are most likely to get catfished.
What is catfishing? Catfishing usually refers to online romance scams where someone uses a fake online profile to attract victims. Still, it can also come in the form of family, friends, or business relationships.
Sometimes it’s for money, and other times it’s an attempt at wish fulfillment or revenge, and sometimes it’s just for kicks.
The pandemic has caused people to spend much more time online this year due to lockdowns, there’s been a surge in online dating activity. However, while doing your best to stay safe from contracting COVID-19, it’s also good to be careful of who you’re talking to on the internet.
In April 2020 the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) issued a warning about a spike in online scam cases, the FBI revealed that catfishing scams cost Americans a reported $475,014,032, which rose $11,513,271 from the previous year.
High-speed internet.com used FBI data to research and rank states with the most and fewest catfish scams per capita.
The study combined the FBI data with the US Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimates to calculate the number of crimes per 100,000 residents.
The report finds that Utah ranks 4th for the most romance scams in the country. Neighboring state Nevada is the state where you’re most likely to be catfished. South Dakota is the state where you’re least likely to be catfished.
The report also finds that victims of catfishing across the beehive state, on average, were scammed out of over $19,000 in 2019.
The report also described the best way to spot a catfish:
- They appear to be unbelievably attractive, single, rich, or “have a great job.”
- They ask you for money.
- They seem evasive or avoid giving details about life, family, etc.
- They claim to be from another country, promise to visit, but always have something come up to keep you from actually meeting them.
Whether you’ve already spotted a catfish, or you’re still trying to figure out if someone you met online can be trusted, here are some helpful tips to avoid getting burned.
- Keep conversations inside online apps until meeting in-person to prevent disclosing more personal info.
- Never reveal information susceptible to identity-theft such as banking information, or common security questions like maiden names, childhood pets, or where you were born.
- Never send money to people you haven’t met in person.
- Trust your gut, and don’t get too romance-happy until meeting in-person.
If you believe that you are becoming a victim of an online romance scam, High-speed internet says you can learn more about online romance scams from the Federal Trade Commission, FTC, or more catfishing tips from the BBB.