Despite warnings from the Federal Trade Commission, a public NFL victim and an MTV reality show the number of catfishing victims increased by 50 percent in 2018 compared with three years ago. 

Catfishing is when someone fakes an online identity to scam victims for money, romance or physical harm. These online relationships can last for months or even years. — a leading resource to verify online identities — today released a study on The Number of Catfish Victims in Each State using data from the FBI for 2018. 

Arizona ranked No. 11 in the country with 429 reported victims.  Vermont reported the fewest victims of all 50 states with just 25 cases. 

10 States with the Most Victims: California (2,105), Texas (1,238), Florida (1,191), New York (782), Pennsylvania (577), Washington (493), Virginia (480), Michigan (461), Illinois (463), North Carolina (432).

10 States with the Fewest Victims: Vermont (25), South Dakota (31), Wyoming (33), North Dakota (35), D.C. (36), Montana (42), Delaware (48), Rhode Island (51), (Hawaii (59) and New Hampshire (68).

U.S. Territories: Puerto Rico had the most with 49 victims and American Samoa had the fewest, reporting zero cases.

5 Signs You Are Being Catfished:

If they ask for money: This may sound so obvious, but if the online friend or romantic interest whom you have never met asks you to send money or provide your bank information, you are being catfished.

If they can’t meet in person: If the person strings you along without meeting in person.  They may even eventually agree to a day or time but have an “emergency” that day such as a cancelled flight or a medical issue. 

If they are stationed overseas: If they claim to be stationed overseas or working on an oil as an excuse for not meeting.

If they can’t video chat: If the person refuses to video chat ever.

If they seem to good to be true: Some people who catfish feel bad about themselves and take on the online persona of a model or successful businessperson and the like. 

To avoid becoming a victim, thoroughly fact-check and verify online identities using google and, before meeting in person or providing any information about yourself.