Catfishing Statistics – How Common is it in Online Dating & How Many are Catfished?

By Bedbible Research Center / January 30, 2023

In this study we have aggregated and collected over 230,000 data points on Catfishing – making this the most comprehensive dataset on the scam. The data and subsequent analysis in this article cover everything from the number of reported catfishing attempts, the number of reported cases, the total and average amount of financial losses associated with those catfish cases, as well as extensive survey responses from victims and perpetrators.

To gain access to the full dataset feel free to reach out to:

Key catfishing statistics

  • in 2022 more thatn $533 million were reported lost to catfishing financial scams.
  • 35,195 cases of catfishing have been reported in the last year (2022), and 104,140 catfishing cases was reported in the last 4 years (2019-2022).
  • Men are twice as likely to become catfishing victims compared to women, who in return are 50% more likely to be a catfishing perpetrator.
  • Catfishing cases on average report to have lost $21,744.
  • Around 7% of people who are attempted catfished fall victim to the scam.
  • Over a third of the population report that they have experienced someone trying to catfish them.
  • 62% of male catfish victims sent money to the catfish (while only 22% of female catfish victims lost money).
  • 60-69 year olds are most likely to fall victim to catfishing, and loose more money on average than any other age group (the age group have on average lost $18).
  • 7% of catfishing attempts are successful.
  • Victims of catfishing in Oklahoma lost the most amount of money on average, with an average of $70,288 lost per case.
  • Total loses due to catfishing amounted to over $150M in California in 2022.

catfishing financial romance scams losses in the US

State by state

During 2022 more than $533 million were lost in Catfishing / Romance scams online. And those are only the publically available reported numbers. It is estimated that many more suffer from economic loses due to catfishing.

The data shows that the top 10 states with the most losses per victim is:

  1. Oklahoma – with loses of $70,288 on average per victim out of 212 reported cases
  2. Montana – with loses of $68,102 on average per victim out of 68 reported cases
  3. Massachusetts – with loses of $62,018 on average per victim out of 361 reported cases
  4. California – with loses of $48,891 on average per victim out of 3,110 reported cases
  5. Louisiana – with loses of $44,859 on average per victim out of 228 reported cases
  6. Washington – with loses of $33,700 on average per victim out of 579 reported cases
  7. Florida – with loses of $31,916 on average per victim out of 1,603 reported cases
  8. Rhode Island – with loses of $29,300 on average per victim out of 80 reported cases
  9. Delaware – with loses of $28,007 on average per victim out of 58 reported cases
  10. Colorado – with loses of $25,382 on average per victim out of 439 reported cases

Looking at the total loses of each state the top 10 states are:

  1. California – placed number 1 with a total aggregated loss of $152,051,010 based on 3110 victims
  2. Florida – placed number 2 with a total aggregated loss of $51,161,348 based on 1603 victims
  3. Texas – placed number 3 with a total aggregated loss of $40,347,972 based on 1602 victims
  4. New York – placed number 4 with a total aggregated loss of $23,333,965 based on 1103 victims
  5. Massachusetts – placed number 5 with a total aggregated loss of $22,388,498 based on 361 victims
  6. Washington – placed number 6 with a total aggregated loss of $19,512,300 based on 579 victims
  7. Pennsylvania – placed number 7 with a total aggregated loss of $17,128,928 based on 736 victims
  8. Oklahoma – placed number 8 with a total aggregated loss of $14,901,056 based on 212 victims
  9. Illinois – placed number 9 with a total aggregated loss of $14,672,976 based on 688 victims
  10. Colorado – placed number 10 with a total aggregated loss of $11,142,698 based on 439 victims

Finally, looking at what states have the most loses per citizen we find that a staggering amount of loses can be attributed directly to catfishing scams:

  1. Montana – placed number 1 with an average loss of $4,162.1 per thousand citizens
  2. California – placed number 2 with an average loss of $3,780.2 per thousand citizens
  3. Oklahoma – placed number 3 with an average loss of $3,705.1 per thousand citizens
  4. Massachusetts – placed number 4 with an average loss of $3,120.5 per thousand citizens
  5. Washington – placed number 5 with an average loss of $2,439.2 per thousand citizens
  6. Florida – placed number 6 with an average loss of $2,288.2 per thousand citizens
  7. Louisiana – placed number 7 with an average loss of $2,178.4 per thousand citizens
  8. Rhode Island – placed number 8 with an average loss of $2,110.2 per thousand citizens
  9. Colorado – placed number 9 with an average loss of $1,858.0 per thousand citizens
  10. Utah – placed number 10 with an average loss of $1,722.6 per thousand citizens
#StatePopulation Cost per victim ($)Victims (State cases)Total cost ($)
8Rhode Island1,110,82229,300802,344,000
15South Carolina5,266,34322,1492505,537,250
16New Jersey9,438,12421,43348510,395,005
19New York20,448,19421,1551,10323,333,965
24New Hampshire1,395,84717,195711,220,845
29West Virginia1,775,93216,3391071,748,273
35New Mexico2,135,02414,4631892,733,507
37North Carolina10,710,55814,0385587,833,204
41South Dakota908,41413,00632416,192
48North Dakota811,0449,32747438,369
#United States337,544,506 (sum)21,744 (avg)402 (avg), 20,121 (total)$533 million (total losses)

Catfishing cases over time (last 4 years)

For the last 4 years we have aggregated data on all the romance scam and financial catfishing cases.

Here is a graphic illustration and a table with the raw data:

catfishing cases by quarter for the past 4 years

PeriodCases (Federal and State cases)
2019 Q12,134
2019 Q23,292
2019 Q33,541
2019 Q43,558
2020 Q13,792
2020 Q24,463
2020 Q34,812
2020 Q46,627
2021 Q18,590
2021 Q29,700
2021 Q39,779
2021 Q48,657
2022 Q19,088
2022 Q28,473
2022 Q38,277
2022 Q49,357
4 Year Period104,114 investigated cases

Financial losses over time

Aggregating the financial loses reported in each case, for each quarter, we have made a table showing the total amount of financial loses to catfishes.

Over the last 4 years almost $ 1.5 billion worth of loses have been reported and recorded.

This does not, however, account for all the unreported cases not included in this dataset!

PeriodTotal Loss
2019 Q1$32.9 millions
2019 Q2$37.1 millions
2019 Q3$47.7 millions
2019 Q4$50.7 millions
2020 Q1$64.3 millions
2020 Q2$55.8 millions
2020 Q3$65.4 millions
2020 Q4$83.2 millions
2021 Q1$94.8 millions
2021 Q2$124.4 millions
2021 Q3$126.4 millions
2021 Q4$130.6 millions
2022 Q1$141.8 millions
2022 Q2$119.3 millions
2022 Q3$136.4 millions
2022 Q4$159.1 millions
All 4 years$1,469.9 millions

Age and catfishing

Certain demographic groups, especially when it comes to age revealed some incredible differences.

Age groups most exposed to catfishing where the 60-69 year olds, whom on average have lost $18.2 to different romance scams.

average financial catfishing and romance scam loses by age group in the us

Age GroupCasesMoney Lost (total)Money lost (per case)PopulationPercent of total% catfishedMoney lost (per citizen)

Gender differences

Who are most likely to get catfished, and be the catfish that perpetrates the crime of catfishing?

% Catfish victims71%28%
% Catfish perpetrators46%64%
Likelihood to fall for attempt9%4%
% of victims sent nude11%35%
% of victims sent money62%22%

Attempted catfishing and outcomes, by gender

Tried to get catfished36.17%43.22%28.14%
Did not fall for it33.68%39.35%27.02%
  : % of all catfishing attempts93.12%90.92%95.83%
: % report no harm done59.88%53.61%66.11%
: % report finding it funny20.35%23.48%17.21%
Fell for it / became victim2.49%3.87%1.12%
  : % of all catfishing attempts6.88%9.08%4.17%
: % report feeling humiliated25.42%24.22%27.69%
: % report feeling heartbroken12.89%9.21%18.05%
: % reporte serious emotional distress12.58%10.48%15.10%
: % report mental health problems9.22%10.14%8.38%

Previous studies have no clear answer

Studies, surveys and other data available on catfishing points in multiple directions:

  • A survey by the UK-based cybersecurity company Norton found that one in four people have fallen victim to catfishing.
  • The same survey found that one in six people have been asked for money by someone they met online.
  • A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that 81% of online daters have lied about their height, weight, or age in their online dating profile.
  • A 2018 survey by the Australian Psychological Society found that 15% of Australians have been victims of catfishing.
  • A survey by the dating website Zoosk found that 60% of people have been victim of a catfishing scam.
  • In a survey of 1,000 users of dating apps, conducted by the research firm Opinium, 20% of respondents said they had been catfished.
  • A study by the Pew Research Center found that 81% of Americans believe that online dating is a good way to meet people, but 55% of Americans also believe that people lie on online dating profiles.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that online romance scams account for the highest financial losses of all internet-facilitated crimes, with individuals losing an average of $2,600.
  • In a survey of 1,500 dating app users, conducted by the research firm GlobalWebIndex, around 42% of online daters said they had been contacted by someone through a dating app or website in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable.
  • A 2018 study by the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that 3,889 victims lost a total of £39m ($51m) in online dating scams in the previous year, an increase of 32%.
  • A survey by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) found that one in 10 online dating profiles are fake.

Albeit not all the different studies and surveys have directly contradictory findings they do shine light on the lack of consistent results in the area.

With this study we have attempted to rid this issue and give the most accurate estimate on how common catfishing is – bot in terms of how many suffer from it and how many actively try and catfish others.