There’s a new twist on romance scams that is preying on social media users who are actively seeking a “sugar daddy” or “sugar momma”.
If you’re not familiar with “sugaring”, you’re not alone. It’s a growing trend where younger women and men (sugar babies) look for an older “sugar daddy” or “sugar momma” to pay them in gifts or cash in exchange for companionship (which may or may not involve intimate relations).
Given their rise in popularity and the sensitive nature of the relationships, it’s no surprise that scammers have turned to preying on this community. Since November 2021, WA ScamNet has received reports from 5 victims with losses of $2,037.90.
How the scam works:
Sugar baby victims may lose money to this scam in either of the following ways:
- A scammer approaches a user who is looking for a sugar daddy or sugar momma on dating websites or social media platforms. The scammer poses as a prospective sugar parent and nurtures a relationship, ultimately offering to pay off bills / debts of their sugar baby victim.
- However, before sending the money, the scammer says they require a small payment from the sugar baby as "proof of loyalty", payment fees or other expenditures.
- Of course, the initial payment isn't for anything: it's just a scam. Once the scammer gets the money, they vanish without sending the promised money and leave the victim out of pocket.
- The sugar parent scammer will obtain the victim’s bank account details and deposit a large sum of funds into the victim’s account.
- Once this is done, the scammer – still playing the role of sugar parent – will advise they have sent too much money and request a small amount like $100 back in gift cards (such as Apple iTunes cards, Google Play cards, or Steam cards). Too often, the sugar baby goes along with the scheme, buys the gift cards and sends codes for the cards to the scammer.
- Any funds deposited on the gift card is quickly drained by the scammer. Sugar babies who refuse to buy gift cards report being met with abusive, threatening, or even black-mailing responses from the new friend and often cave to the pressure.
- The financial accounts used to transfer funds into the sugar baby’s accounts are fraudulent, and once a credit card company catches on, the recently deposited funds will disappear from the account, leaving the victim further in debt.
If you are considering looking for a sugar parent online, be aware of some of the red flags of this scam. All of these are flags for online dating relationships of any nature, and can happen via any dating website.
- If a new romantic interest asks sensitive information such as banking details, home address, mobile number etc., it’s likely a scam.
- If a “sugar daddy” offers to pay off one or more of your debts (such as credit card balances, student loans, rent, etc.), there’s a significant possibility it’s a scam.
- If your “sugar daddy” urges you to move conversations that began on dating websites on to email, WhatsApp, text message, or over the phone, it’s very likely a scam.
- Never share sensitive photographs or text messages you wouldn’t want to be publicly viewable with a sugar daddy or anyone else you’ve met online.
If you’ve been approached by someone you suspect of being a scammer, or if you’ve already fallen victim to one of these scams, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. Your bank may not be able to recover lost funds, but it can block access to compromised accounts to prevent further damage.
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