INDIANAPOLIS — According to new data from Comparitech, roughly 73,000 people lost about $1 billion to romance scams in 2022.
That’s a hefty increase from an estimated $547 billion in 2021 and $304 million in 2021. Romance scams show no signs of slowing down as people who are looking for love continue to fall for schemes like “catfishing.” The scams are constantly tricking people into sending money or gifts to someone they believe to be a potential love interest.
To help more Americans avoid being scammed, the watchdog website Social Catfish has compiled the 100 photos most commonly used in romance scams in 2022.
The photos are real people, but the images have been stolen by crooks to make themselves appear more attractive and alluring. Many of the photos are different pics of the same person, reused over and over by crooks looking to trick someone into falling in love with them for money and gifts.
If you’re in contact with someone on a dating app and you want to make sure they’re legitimate, Social Catfish points out that you can check their profile photo for authenticity. One method is to upload the photo or its URL in your web browser to see if it comes up on other websites or platforms with a different name. If you’re talking to someone named Steve, but he shows up on another site named Eric, you’re talking to a scammer.
Social Catfish also has its own search tool on its website where you can upload a photo for an internet scan. The scan searches the internet to see how many times the photo has been used, and about 40 other factors to see if it’s fake. You will have to pay a fee of roughly $25 per month for that service.