We’ve all heard the term catfishing. Perhaps you’ve seen the eponymous MTV docuseries or the documentary film. But how much do we know about it, and how can catfishing statistics enlighten us?
Catfishing is an activity where a person creates a fake online identity to deceive unsuspecting internet users.
It’s often harmless, but it can also lead to identity theft, psychological abuse, physical harm, or worse. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for internet users to fall prey to sex offenders and other cybercriminals through catfishing.
The Most Important Catfishing Statistics to Be Aware Of
- 15,372 people have reported catfishing to authorities in just one year.
- Dating apps account for 38% of catfishing victims.
- 83% of Facebook accounts are fake.
- Men are almost 25% more likely to be catfished.
- 53% of Americans say they have lied on their social media profiles.
- Over two-thirds use catfishing as a form of escapism.
- 35% of people use catfishing to get money, catfishing statistics show.
- In the US, catfishing victims lost a combined sum of $211.3 million in just one year.
- 9% of victims have experienced severe mental health issues.
- California has the most catfished victims.
How Common Is Catfishing?
1. According to an online survey, catfishers tricked one in three respondents.
Today, we have access to incredible amounts of data as well as numerous online tools.
TV shows, documentaries, and articles are continually warning us about the dangers of online dating, internet scams, and the psychological effects of catfishing. But regardless of our efforts, this malicious activity is still prevalent.
2. How many people a year are Catfished? 15,372 people have reported catfishing to authorities in just one year.
Although over 15,000 people reported incidents to the police in 2017, the real number of victims could be much higher.
Many catfishing victims feel too humiliated or embarrassed to come forward.
3. Catfishing is the 11th most popular form of cybercrime.
(BestVPN.org; Avast Blog)
Catfishing is not only a widespread issue – it costs a lot too. It is the second costliest cybercrime, preceded only by email compromise fraud.
4. Dating apps account for 38% of catfishing victims.
According to online dating catfish statistics, catfishers usually operate on online dating apps and sites.
Cybercriminals used online dating platforms to trick a staggering 68%. Moreover, they catfished 15% of Twitter users and 17% of people using Instagram.
5. 10% of new accounts on free dating sites are fake.
(Phactual; Sift Blog)
Most dating apps are free, which means that anyone can join. Catfish facts show that men are 21% more likely to have a fake dating app profile than women, which is something to bear in mind before you swipe right.
6. Catfishers used false information to scam 12% of online daters.
(BeenVerified; Consumer Reports)
According to a 2018 Consumer Report, people with fake profiles grossly misled 35% of online daters. With such experiences, it’s no wonder that 46% of respondents are hesitant about online dating for fear of being scammed.
7. Trust is a two-way street.
Online catfish statistics reveal that 54% of online dating app users believe the person they communicate with online has presented false information.
Well, if you’ve added a little something to your profile to make it seem more interesting, it’s safe to assume that others have done it too.
8. In addition to dating sites, catfishers also target Facebook.
According to a survey, Facebook accounts for 21% of catfishing victims. Facebook catfishing statistics reveal that 83% of Facebook accounts are fake.
Stats also show that 97% of users incorrectly claim to be female, and 60% falsely identify themselves as bisexual. How can you tell if an account is fake? If the user has six times more friends than a real Facebook profile, chances are it is a false account.
9. Catfishers operate serially.
It is quite common for catfishers to have as many as nine or ten catfishing victims, research, and catfishing statistics confirm. For some, it becomes an addiction. For others, it’s a case of telling more fibs to cover up a previous lie.
This kind of catfishing may not be malicious, but it still involves providing false information through fake profiles.
Who do Catfishers Target?
10. Men are almost 25% more likely to be catfished.
Research shows that catfishers targeted 43% of men. The number of female catfishing victims is nearly half that. Catfish stats indicate criminals managed to trick only 28% of women.
11. In the US, women over the age of 40 are the most common victims of catfishing.
According to a 2014 survey, women over 40 accounted for 79% of losses from catfishing scams, while men over 40 made up only 15.8%.
12. 20% of catfishing victims believed they were speaking to a model or a pornstar.
Less than 2% thought they were chatting with a famous actor, singer or TV star. Statistics on catfishing reveal that 73% of respondents felt they were talking to a real person they found attractive.
13. Catfishers scammed 40% of catfishing victims just once.
The criminals managed to trick 25% of their victims twice. Although it is hard to determine whether it’s because people are too optimistic, naive, or desperate, the fact is that 20% of male catfishing victims reported falling for a catfishing scheme no less than five times.
How Many People Are Catfishing?
14. 53% of Americans say they have lied on their profile.
Women tend to lie more, with 20% of female respondents posting profile pics of their younger selves and a third admitting that they lie about their job or financial situation. Conversely, 40% of men lied about their salary on their dating profile.
15. Nine out of ten online daters lie about their age, weight, or height.
Judging by the internet catfishing statistics, women are more likely to lie about their weight, while men say they are taller than they are.
Surprisingly, both genders lie less about their age than they do about other aspects of physical appearance.
16. 64% of catfishers are women.
Does this surprise you? Another thing about gender is that 24% of catfishers state they are of the opposite sex when creating a false identity.
Some say that they do it to troll other people, while catfish facts seem to suggest that some do it because they are unsure of their sexual orientation, but have never acted on it. They say this is a safer way to see what it feels like to flirt with someone of the same sex.
17. 69% of catfishers use someone else’s name as their own.
Sometimes filters and effects are not enough. To compensate for self-esteem issues, 73% of catfishers use someone else’s photo as their own on their dating or social media profile.
Why Do People Catfish?
18. Catfishers can range from people with low self-esteem to sociopaths.
The most common motivator behind catfishing is loneliness. In an interview, 41% of people who had admitted to catfishing someone online said they did it because they felt lonely.
Other motives included revenge and boredom. So, catfishers can be people who just want someone to talk to or bored internet users with nothing better to do. This is tragic since loneliness stats show volunteering, for example, as an excellent solution for loneliness.
However, according to catfish psychology, they can also be people with serious psychological issues. Online catfishing facts mention people addicted to a false persona, victims of abuse, or abusive people as possible profiles of a catfisher.
19. Over two-thirds use catfishing as a form of escapism.
One-third of catfishers said they lie on their profiles because they are not happy with the way they look.
A quarter of respondents, however, said that they created a fake profile for practical reasons, such as being too young for an online game or site.
20. 35% of people use catfishing to get money, catfishing statistics show.
More disturbingly, 20% of people send money to catfishers. The majority of victims had given $20 or less. However, 13% of people had sent $500, while 6% had paid between $1,000 and $10,000!
21. 20% catfish others to get them to send sexually explicit photos or videos.
Although this stat is concerning, what’s even more alarming is that 22% of people sent their nude photos or videos.
What Are the Dangers of Catfishing?
22. Romance scams reached a record high in the UK in 2016.
Catfishing statistics in the UK show that in 2016, there were 3,889 reported cases of online dating scams, which resulted in losses to the victims of £39m (around $50 million).
23. In the US, catfishing victims lost a combined sum of $211.3 million in just one year.
In addition to this, the FTC has reported losses from romantic scams of $143 million in 2018 (an increase from $33 million in 2015).
24. South Dakota has the lowest cost per victim.
Dating scams and catfishing statistics from the FBI show that with $3,281 in costs per crime, South Dakota residents have paid the lowest price for catfishing (financially at least).
North Carolina, on the other hand, has the highest cost per catfish scam. Estimates show that catfishing has set North Carolina back by an average of $47,886 per scam.
25. 9% of catfishing victims have experienced severe mental issues.
(Metro.co.uk; Cybersmile Foundation)
In addition to financial damage, catfishing can have emotional and psychological consequences.
The most common psychological effects of catfishing include depression, anxiety, and even paranoia, catfishing online statistics reveal. Catfishers frustrate victims by betraying their trust, which is why catfishing online sometimes leads to long-term psychological issues and mental illness.
26. 20% of catfishing targets thought the whole situation was funny.
Although the majority of respondents (60%) felt that there was no harm in the activity, they might be downplaying just how dangerous the situation was.
A quarter of catfishing victims said they felt humiliated, catfishing statistics for 2018 show. What’s more, 13% said they felt heartbroken, and another 13% suffered severe emotional distress after being catfished.
Where Is Catfishing Most Common?
27. Catfishing is more common in the West.
No one is sure why, but from the ten states with the highest prevalence of internet catfishing incidents, eight of them are in the West. There was only one Western state (Montana) on the list of states with the lowest number of online scams, according to the catfishing statistics in the USA.
Perhaps people in the West are more likely to get duped, more likely to report an incident, or it might just be that Western states have lower population density, which could explain their ranking.
28. Residents of Alaska are the most likely to get catfished.
Nevada and Wisconsin are ranked second and third. Illinois, Georgia, and South Dakota are the states whose residents are least likely to get catfished.
29. California has the most catfished victims.
According to catfish statistics, with 2,105 victims in 2018, California was number one for two consecutive years as the state with the highest number of victims.
However, California has the highest population, so the actual number of scams per capita is much lower. In that regard, the state is 37th on the list. Vermont is the state with the lowest quantity of catfished victims (there were only 25 victims in 2018).
Although anonymity on the internet allows users to express their opinion without fear of being persecuted, catfishing statistics show that things can take a dark turn when someone abuses this privilege.
Catfishing is not a victimless crime. People can lose their life savings, have their emotions toyed with, and their lives ruined. So, watch out for catfishing online and remember that the best person you can be is yourself, in both the real world and the digital one.