How likely are Coloradans to fall for catfishing scams?

Heather Willard
A computer screen lights up fabric.Jay Wennington on Unsplash.

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver

(Colorado) Using FBI and Federal Trade Commission data, a study shows Colorado is the 8th most catfished state, reporting 445 victims lost a record $24 million in 2021 — double the $12 million stolen in 2020.

In 2020, catfishing scammers stole $304 million nationally. However, according to FBI data, that number rose 22% in 2021. Romance scammers netted a national record of $547 million in 2021.

The FBI reported that Colorado victims lost $55,040 to fraud schemes like catfishing in 2021.

Catfishing is one of several “romance scams,” as grouped by the FBI, where a scammer uses a close relationship to manipulate or steal from an individual. Catfishing happens specifically when a scammer uses a fake online persona to “catch” their victims, often using photos stolen from a stranger.

Because these scams rely on physical distance, COVID-19 restrictions helped amplify them. Government warnings and shows like Netflix’s Tinder Swindler raised pop culture awareness but romance scams cost victims $1.5 billion since 2017.

The amount lost to fraud also climbed dramatically in Colorado for the past three years, with $956 million reported stolen in 2021, $600 million in 2020 and $475 million in 2019. Scammers stole $1.63 billion from 2,885 Colorado victims in the past three years.

The study, released by reverse-name-search platform, focused on data released in February and March 2022 by the FBI and FTC. The states where scammers stole the most were California, Florida and Texas.

If you believe a romance scammer has contacted you, report it to the FBI and the FTC.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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