new study shows Arizona is the No. 14 most catfished state with 653 victims losing a record $19 million in 2021, up from $12 million in 2020.

Nationally, a record $547 million was lost to romance scams, up from $304 million.

Despite government warnings and shows like Netflix’ Tinder Swindler raising pop culture awareness, romance scams have become the No. 1 type of fraud recorded by the FTC with victims losing a staggering $1.5 billion in the last five years.

READ ALSO: How Arizona ranks among most dangerous states for online dating today released a study on the Most Catfished States in 2021 using FBI and FTC data released in March and February of 2022.

Key Findings:

Arizona: The average victim in the state lost $28,832 last year.

• Top Five States: California ($184 million stolen), Florida ($70 million), Texas ($65 million), New York ($58 million), and Washington ($32 million).

• Bottom Five Places: Maine ($386,894 stolen), Vermont ($528,709), D.C. ($861,723), New Hampshire ($1 million), and Arkansas ($1.2 million).

• Only 7 states and D.C. lost less money to romance scams than they did in 2020.

5 New Romance Scams to Avoid in 2022:

1. ‘Money Mules’: A new twist is when scammers do not ask for money, they try to send you some.  They send you money and ask you to wire it to their family member in trouble overseas. They claim their bank is having issues. Once the victim agrees, they have participated in a money laundering scheme.

How to Avoid: Never provide your bank information, or send and accept wire transfers to someone you do not know in real life.

2. ‘CryptoRom’:  Cryptocurrency related romance scams accounted for the largest losses in 2021 of $139 million, up more than 25 times those reported in 2019.  Scammers gains the victims trust, and instead of asking for money, they convince them to invest in a bogus crypto app and steal their money that way.

How to Avoid: Never invest money with anyone you meet online. If you want to invest in Crypto, use well-known Apps like, Coinbase and PayPal.

3. Teens Targeted on Tik Tok: Teens lost a record $101 million to romance scams in 2021, up from $71 million. Teens are tech-savvy but feeling ‘love’ for the first time is an overwhelming emotion. With social development hampered by COVID-19 in recent years, romance scammers are increasing their presence on social media sites like Tik Tok and Instagram.

How to Avoid: Teenagers should never send money or give personal information to anyone they have not met in person.  Parents need to talk to their children and vice versa as romance scams now impact every generation in the family.

4. Social Media Influencers: The FTC labeled social media a ‘gold mine’ for scammers as more than one third of romance scams originated on Facebook or Instagram in 2021.  Scammers create fake profiles, often stealing the likeness of an attractive and successful ‘influencer’ and engage in romance scams. A survey conducted by Social Catfish found 86% of influencers have seen an increase in fake profiles made in their likeness since the pandemic began.

How to Avoid: Do a reverse image search to confirm if the person in the photos goes by the same name as the person who friend requested you on social media.

5. Gift Card Scams: Victims sent $36 million in gift cards to scammers in 2021, the No. 1 payment method. This is the standard romance scam but instead of asking for money, which theoretically could be traced back to a bank account, they ask for gift cards which are untraceable.

How to Avoid: If your online love interest asks for a gift card, that is a huge red flag and do not send any.

If you believe you have been contacted by a romance scammer report it to the FBI and the FTC.