The website socialcatfish.com used the most recent data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and published a study titled  Catfishing: A Growing Epidemic During COVID-19.

In the study, socialcatfish.com found that Pennsylvania had the fifth-highest number of romance scam victims, behind only California, Florida, Texas, and New York.

One of the main reasons that catfishing scams are on the rise is that more people are using social media and dating apps during the coronavirus pandemic. Socialcatfish.com says "a record 26.6 million people are using data apps in 2020."  That's an 18.4% increase from last year.

Socialcatfish.com also found that 31% of dating app users said they are spending more time on those apps during the pandemic.

According to socialcatfish.com, here are some of the tricks that scammers are using on dating apps:

  • A catfisher will tell you that they cannot meet you in person because of the coronavirus.
  • After creating an emotional connection with you, a catfisher may ask you for money to help them with a coronavirus-related health issue.
  • Because people are spending more time on dating apps, relationships with catfishers may move faster than normal online relationships.
  • Catfishers will claim they cannot video chat with you because their webcam is broken.

Here are a few ways that socialcatfish.com says you can protect yourself from being a victim of a scam:

  • Never give anyone online money.
  • Never give out your personal information.
  • When it comes to an online relationship, take things slowly.

Socialcatfish.com says that many of the scammers are from Nigeria and that there are some other telltale signs of Nigerian scams. You can find them here.