CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dating may be on your mind in February, the month of love, but there is a warning about dating apps and romance scams.
It's estimated that $547 million was lost to romance scams in the U.S. in 2021, a record high.
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Social Catfish, a company that helps to verify photos and online identities, released a study on the most "catfished" states in America after analyzing the most recent FBI and FTC data released in 2022. In Illinois, 591 victims lost $19,785,612 to romance scams in 2021, with an average loss of $33,478 per victim.
Here are some tips from Social Catfish for avoiding romance scams:
- It's a red flag if they seem too good to be true. Scammers steal photos of very attractive and successful-looking people and create fake online accounts to scam you. If, suddenly, a handsome billionaire or a gorgeous model falls into your lap, beware. Try to do a reverse image search to see if the photo is used on several dating apps, using different names.
- Watch out if they fall in love having never met you. Regardless of how strong your online chat game is, it is unlikely someone will genuinely fall in love without spending time with you. Try to video chat with someone or meet them in person soon after a connection.
- Shut it down if they ask for money, Crypto or gift cards. That is the biggest warning sign of all. They may tug at your heart strings, saying they have a problem with the bank account, a medical emergency or that they need the money so they can come visit you. But, it's a scam.
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