TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Valentine’s Day is here, and while love may be in the air, a site that helps protect people from dating “scams” via reverse name searches says there’s danger, too, for those looking for love.

So, how often do residents in the Sunshine State get victimized by romance “scammers?”

According to Social Catfish, Florida residents are some of the people most likely to fall prey to Valentine’s Day scams while looking for love and connection. By analyzing data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission, Social Catfish built a ranking of the most “catfished” states in the U.S.

Florida ranked No. 2 on the list, behind only California when it comes to how many residents are victims of romance scams, and how much money they lose on average.

The typical Floridian who does get tricked loses more than $40,500 on average, according to the study. California, at No. 1, sees residents lose nearly $61,000, as of data from 2021 analyzed by Social Catfish.

Here’s the company’s top 10 for which states have the most lost, and most impacted.

StateNumber Of VictimsTotal Money LostAverage Amount Lost
New York1,168$57,577,392$49,296
New Jersey517$30,142,767$58,303
(Source: Social Catifsh)

Citing the FTC, Social Catfish reported that not only are Americans at risk of losing for love, but the amounts lost are also only increasing.

“Yet despite the increased awareness, new government data found that Americans lost a record $547 million to romance scams in 2021, up nearly 80% from $304 million in 2020,” Social Catfish reported. “In fact, romance scams have become the No. 1 type of fraud measured by the Federal Trade Commission over the last five years with people losing a staggering $1.3 billion.”

Social Catfish said these are the top three signs you are being “catfished”:  

  1. They Seem too Good to be True: Scammers steal photos of very attractive and successful looking people and create fake online accounts to lure you in.  If suddenly, a handsome billionaire or a gorgeous model falls into your lap, it should be approached with healthy skepticism. Fairy tales do happen, but why not do some simple vetting?
  1. They Fall in Love Having Never Met You: Regardless of how strong your online chat game is, it is unlikely someone will genuinely fall in love without spending time with you. To find out for sure you must take the relationship to the next level by video chatting and meeting in person. Scammers come up with reasons why they cannot do either.
  1. They Ask for Money, Crypto or Gift Cards: The biggest red flag of all is when a person whom you have never met starts asking for money. Frequent reasons include problems with the bank account, medical emergencies or they need the money so they can come visit you. Scammers like to be paid with gift cards or bitcoin as this is harder for authorities to trace.

Here are Social Catfish’s tips on how to avoid getting scammed:

  • How to Avoid: Perform a reverse image search to see if their picture matches their name. If the photo is used on many dating apps using different names, it is a scam.
  • How to Avoid: Stop communicating with anyone who will not meet or video chat in a reasonable amount of time.
  • How to Avoid: This one is simple and foolproof. Never give money to anyone you meet online.