One could argue that everything we post is a part of an identity we fake for society. However, it’s not the same thing pretending to like Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte and creating a fake identity to deceive others. The latter often leads to identity theft, psychological abuse, or worse.
It is not uncommon for people to fall prey to sex offenders and cybercriminals through catfishing. In 2021, it is becoming easier than ever to create identities and photoshop whatever you want through countless free apps.
Here are some informative catfishing statistics to raise awareness and hopefully help you recognize different signs and dangers lurking in the digital world.
Top 10 Catfishing Statistics for 2021 to Keep in Mind
- Dating apps account for 38% of catfishing victims.
- Online relationship statistics reveal that 10% of new accounts on free dating sites are fake.
- Catfishers used false information to scam 12% of online daters.
- 20% of catfishing victims believed they were speaking to a model or a pornstar.
- Facebook catfishing statistics reveal that 83% of Facebook accounts are fake.
- 9% of catfishing victims have experienced severe mental issues.
- Online catfishing facts reveal that 53% of Americans lied on their profile.
- Nine out of ten online daters lie about their age, weight, or height.
- In the US, women over the age of 40 are the most common catfishing victims.
- 64% of catfishers are women, based on recent online catfish statistics.
How Common Is Catfishing?
If you’ve never been there, it may be hard for you to believe that this could happen. You may be inclined to think that such a thing could never happen to you. Still, this is probably not true as numbers are showing that catfishing is quite wide-spread.
The chances are, you were catfished without even knowing it — here are the numbers.
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 of the catfishing victims feel too humiliated or embarrassed to come forward.
3. Online catfishing statistics show that it is the 11th most popular form of cybercrime.
(BestVPN.org; Avast Blog)
Catfishing is not only a widespread issue – it costs a lot too. Catfishing 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. Online relationship statistics reveal that 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.
Furthermore, it is better to stay cautious and do a quick online background check on anyone you find interesting before you provide them personal information or agree to meet them.
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 to fear being scammed.
7. 54% of online daters believe they were presented with false information, according to recent online catfish statistics.
Most 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. Facebook catfishing statistics reveal that 83% of Facebook accounts are fake.
According to a survey, Facebook accounts for 21% of catfishing victims.
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, while 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?
After these alarming numbers, you may be wondering where you fit in all of that. Here are some numbers about categories that are targeted the most.
10. Social media catfish statistics show that 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 catfishing victims.
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?
Numbers don’t quite add up here because it all depends on what you consider a deal-breaking lie. Lying about height or weight may not be a big deal to you, although it is technically also a form of catfishing.
Whatever your thoughts on this may be, here are some facts that reveal how many people resort to this.
14. Online catfishing facts reveal that 53% of Americans 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, based on recent online catfish statistics.
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 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?
A question of all questions — why? People lie for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they do it to cover personal insecurities or past trauma, but research shows that catfishing can get pretty dark pretty fast.
We urge you to read these carefully and not to take them lightly. The person behind a profile you suspect to be fake may be someone who could do harm in more than one way.
18. Social media catfish statistic shows that 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.
However, according to catfish psychology, catfishers 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 catfisher profiles.
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. However, a quarter of respondents 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.
22. Online relationship statistics suggest that 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. 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.
24. 20% of catfishing targets thought the whole situation was funny.
Although most 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 show. What’s more, 13% said they felt heartbroken, and another 13% suffered severe emotional distress after being catfished.
Where Is Catfishing Most Common?
Although there are no clear indicators of why this is, there are apparently states where you are more likely to be catfished. We can’t tell you why, but we can tell you where.
25. 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).
26. 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.
27. Catfishing is more common in the West.
No one is sure why, but eight of them are in the West from the ten states with the highest prevalence of internet catfishing incidents. According to the catfishing statistics in the USA, there was only one Western state (Montana) on the list of states with the lowest number of online scams.
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. Catfishing statistics in the USA show that 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 number of catfished victims (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.