New Yorkers lost over $30M to romance scams in 2023: Study

In an era where love often begins with a swipe, the potential for heartbreak or even worse is staggering.

According to a recent study by Social Catfish, Americans lost a shocking $1.14B to romance scams in 2023, part of a growing epidemic being driven by sophisticated technology. 

New York ranked fourth in the nation for total number of victims, with 819 people losing a total of $30.2M.

While that represents a 10% decrease in victims from 2022, the average loss per victim remained a high $36,931.

California, meanwhile, topped the list, with 2,024 victims losing a total of $100.6 million, with Florida and Texas following, with losses of $62.9 million and $54.1 million, respectively. 

According to the study, scammers have revolutionized romance scams by using the latest in cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence and deepfake videos, allowing them to conduct real-time video calls with potential victims while appearing as someone else. 

For instance, Fortune reported that a South Korean woman lost $50,770 in a romance scam after she fell in love with a deepfake version of Elon Musk.

Another case involved a Massachusetts woman who sent $24,000 to a scammer posing as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who claimed to be in love with her and needed money for legal fees.

The scams commonly use cryptocurrency as a payment method, luring their victims into supposedly "can't lose" crypto investment opportunities, only for the funds to vanish. 

The anonymity and irreversibility of cryptocurrency transactions make recovering lost funds nearly impossible for victims.

In order to avoid falling victim to these scams, experts from Social Catfish recommend the following:

Perform a reverse image search to confirm the person's true identity.

Review this leaked Nigerian scammer training manual to learn to spot scams.

Never send money to anyone you meet online

Insist on video chatting, and watch for AI glitches, such as unnatural blinking or inconsistent facial expressions

Never invest without speaking to a third-party financial planning professional

Be cautious when someone professes their love for you quickly.

If you suspect you've been scammed, here are some steps you can take:

Report the incident to local law enforcement, the FTC, and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Stop all communication with the scammer and block them on all platforms.

Change your online passwords and enable two-factor authentication.

Monitor your bank accounts and credit cards for unusual activity.

Do not be ashamed, you are not alone, seek help from your family, friends and a mental health professional counselor.