DENVER (KDVR) — Shocking new numbers show the biggest increase in romance scams in five years.
The study was conducted by The Social Catfish, a reverse search technology company.
Findings reveal Americans lost a record $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022, an increase of more than 130% in one year alone.
FOX31 spoke to one victim who explains why many elderly women fall for the schemes.
“I was just tired of being alone and I needed somebody,” she said.
One former scammer from Nigeria is embarking on a press tour in an effort to warn potential victims after seeing his own mother targeted.
“Let me tell you this, I used to do a scam, I used to talk to a woman, I would call her from 12 a.m. midnight until five in the morning,” he said.
Colorado ranks 16th in the nation for romance scam cases with 362 victims losing $14.1 billion in 2022 mostly through bank wires and by sending gift cards.
Losses in New Mexico jumped nearly 300% in one year, with each victim losing an average of more than $55,000.
The top scams of 2022 were listed as celebrity impersonation schemes on social media where the scammer asks for money to launch a new film or music project, crooks pretending to be military officers looking for love, then eventually asking for money to fly back to the United States to “connect” and offers to invest in cryptocurrency.
Cybersecurity experts told the Problem Solvers the key to avoiding scams is to let unknown calls go to voicemail and check them later, never open emails from unknown senders or click on links to other sites. Guard your personal identification and financial information and never share it with anyone you don’t know or who can’t be verified through a legitimate organization that you contact yourself.
The Federal Trade Commission offers consumer protection information about how to identify and guard against scams.
The study shows the most common lies used by scammers include requests for money because they are hurt, sick or in jail.