Is your online flirt a fake? The 100 most commonly used photos in romance scams revealed

Romance scams on the rise: Texans lose $60.3 million in 2022

SAN ANTONIO – Love is in the air, and with social media and dating apps, a perfect match could be at your fingertips. But with that convenience should also come caution.

“I’ve seen all types of people, all walks of life, getting romance scammed, and the common denominator is loneliness,” said Breanne McClellan, co-founder of Social Catfish, a company that verifies online identities.

McClellan warns that an online love interest could be out to steal your heart and your money. He adds new technology is evolving romance scams.

“There are sites that offer images of people that don’t exist. It’s an AI website. They’re able to use ChatGPT and manipulate what they’re saying as if they speak good English, and it can be very manipulating,” said McClellan.

FBI data shows 1,331 Texans were victims of romance scams in 2022, losing $60.3 million.

Americans lost $1.3 billion in 2022, nearly doubling the losses of 2021, which was $547 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“There are a lot of people out there that get trapped in this fantasy, and they want to believe that someone’s out there loving them, caring for them, and constantly giving them attention,” said McClellan.

Social Catfish says it has identified the 100 most commonly used photos in romance scams. The list even includes some celebrities like Adam Levine and Robert Downey Jr.

“Do your due diligence, making this person video chat with you and sending a candid image. That’s a for sure way to confirm who you are talking to,” said McClellan.

For more tips to avoid romance scams, click here.

About the Author

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

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