Romance Scams Statistics
By Bedbible Research Center / February 08, 2023
This is by far the biggest longitudinal data study of publicly available romance scam data from the FTC database. All insights gained from the analysis is shared in this article. The hope is that this study provides as close to true insights of any and all romance scam statistics and help move both knowledge-sharing and prevention efforts forward.
Upon request we share the complete dataset after cleaning as well as a codebook for referencing methodology and data reliability. Please forward any requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, please reference any use of the statistics from this article.
Key Romance Scam Statistics
- Confidence and romance scams made up over $1B in losses in 2021
- 24,000 victims of romance scams alone lost a staggering $547M in 2021.
- In 2022 US victims of romance scams lost a total of $716M by just 73,000 reported incidents
- Confidence and romance scams made up $1.4B in losses in 2022 increasing by +40% from last year.
- Financial losses to romance scams have doubled every second year for the past 6 years (increasing on average by +53% each year).
- Losses to romance scams makes up 25% of all the losses to different types of scams including investments scams. Making it the single largest financial scam.
- People aged 60-69 are most susceptible to suffering financial losses due to romance scams (loosing on average over $6,000 per scam, meaning that on average every 60-69 year old would have lost $18.2).
- 28% of romance scam fraudsters ask victims to transfer money via gift cards.
- Measured on the aggregated losses, cryptocurrency transfers were the biggest medium of transfer in 2021 ($139M transferred via cryptocurrencies to romance frauds).
Romance scam cases and money lost over time
From the most recent data (last 6 years) we pooled all reportings of all romance scams reported to both the FTC and the FBI. Of course, as with any self-reported data we belive the numbers to be higher (due to non-reported incidents), but for the sake of comparability we have not tried estimated the non-reported numbers.
The reported number of total cases per year, money lost in total as well as yearly increases of romance scams and money lost to it is reported in the below table:
|Year||Reported cases||Reported money lost||% increase (cases)||% increase ($ amount)|
|Total (6 years)||226,000||2,004||avg. +35%||avg. +53%|
Demographic: Median losses per age group
Through our analysis we found that especially 70+ year olds were prone to loose the most amount of money per reported incident of a romance scam.
The data used to come to this conclusion can be found in the below table:
|Age group||Median money lost|
However, interestingly, if we use the data to instead look at how the total losses per age group would amount to average loses per individual in each individual in the age group in the total population we instead find that 60-69 year olds actually on average loose the most amount of money.
Based on the monetary amount transferred cryptocurrency transfers are one of the most used methods. However, most cases involve a transfer through gift cards or refillable credit cards. Most methods share the commonality that they help the scammers maintain anonymity.
|Transferering methods for scams||Total reported losses||% of victims used method|
|Bank transfer/payment app||$121M||27%|
Romance scams compared to other financial scams
As a way better understand the scale and impact of romance scam we have compared it, in the below pie chart and table, to other types of financial scams reported to the FTC.
What the data showed is that 25% of all financial losses due to scams stem from romance related scamming. Making romance scam the single biggest contributor to individual financial losses to scams.
|Fraud types||Amount lost||% of all frauds|
|Romance scams||$707.6 M||24.7%|
|Government imposter||$513.8 M||17.9%|
|Bussiness imposters||$286.4 M||10.0%|
|Investment scams||$210.6 M||7.4%|
|Tech support scams||$202.2 M||7.1%|
|Timeshare sales||$143.2 M||5.0%|
|Friend imposter||$143.2 M||5.0%|
|Online shopping||$117.9 M||4.1%|
|Timeshare Resales||$109.5 M||3.8%|
+36% of romance scams starts on social media
Despite general beliefs that romantic scams are directly related to online dating services, platforms, and apps we actually find in the data that more than 36% of romance scams happens on Facebook and Instagram:
- 52% of romance scams is reported to have happened on dating services and platforms.
- 23% of romance scams is reported to have happened on Facebook.
- 13% of romance scams is reported to have happened on Instagram.
- 12% of romance scams happens on other online forums.
- Meaning that Social Media accounts for more than 36% the places where romance scams are perpetrated.
UK romance scam numbers
Despite collection data on reported romance scam from the FTC we additionally collected data from other regions and countries. Some of these findings include
- UK romance scam losses amounted to £68 million in 2020
- UK romance scam losses amounted to £101 in 2022
- From 2020 to 2022 romance scam losses increase by 49% in the UK (the biannual increase is in lign with the average annual increase of around +20%).
- UK victims who reported the crime on average lost £7,850.
- Women lost almost twice the amount of money in total, compared to men in the UK.
- 63% of UK romance fraud victims are women.
- The mean age of romance scam victims in the UK is 51 years old.
- 42% of UK victims report that the crime has significantly affected their mental health.
Australia – losses to romance scams
- Romance scams account for $83 million AUD in losses in 2021 ($58 million USD).
- in 2022 romance scams cost australians more than 129 million AUD ($90 million USD) increasing by more than +55% from 2021.
- It is estimated that 1 in 3 australians fail to report on financial losses from romance scams.
Canada – losses to romance scams
- Romance scams account for $18.5 million in losses. Significantly lower than other comparable countries and previous years.
- in 2022 Canadian lost just over $21 million to romance scams a mere 13.5% increase in two years where other countries saw massive increases.
- Victims often morn the loss of the romantic relationship more that the financial loss.
- Romantic scams are often highly structured work of criminal groups.
- 52% of respondents answer that they feel more vulnerable to potential romantic scams on Valentines day.
- Up to 30% of romantic scams involve laundering money, and victims are essentially used as ‘money mules’.
- It is estimated that 1 in 7 dating profiles are fake.
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