Avast Academy Security Other Threats How to Avoid Sugar Daddy Scams

How to Avoid Sugar Daddy Scams

Sugar daddy scammers lure victims by using apps like Instagram, PayPal, or Cash App to offer apparently easy money for doing little in return. Read on for my first-hand account of how I spotted a fake sugar daddy trying to scam me. Then, install an all-in-one security and privacy tool like Avast One to protect yourself from online scams.

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Written by Laura Josepha Zimmermann
Published on January 20, 2023

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What is a sugar daddy?

A sugar daddy is usually an older man who offers money, gifts, or other financial incentives to a younger person (their sugar baby) in exchange for companionship or other relationship benefits. This is a voluntary relationship that both the sugar daddy and sugar baby feel benefits them.

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    What is a sugar daddy scam?

    A sugar daddy scam is when a scammer poses as a rich benefactor looking for a sugar baby to spoil. The scam unfolds with the sugar daddy trying to swindle a victim in need of money or looking for a lavish lifestyle. Sugar daddy scams often begin on social media.

    Sugar daddy scams usually start with a direct message to the victim via Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platform. In my example below, it all started on Instagram. After the initial conversation, fake sugar daddies like to move the conversation to another, more private platform, like WhatsApp, iMessage, or another texting app.

    A fake sugar daddy may start flirting with their prospective sugar baby or offering them money straight away. Ultimately, if the victim falls for the trick, they end up giving money to the scammer. The scams work in a number of ways, although not all sugar daddy scams are convincing — as you’ll see in my example below.

    Sugar daddy scammer on Instagram

    I’m a young woman in my 20s and an active Instagram user. Recently, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and received a new direct message request. I saw an older man pictured in the channel’s photo.

    The direct message read, “Hi pretty, I’m Walker. I would like to have you as my sugar baby.” And, although this came across as an obvious scam attempt, I got curious. So I responded.

    Sugar Daddy Scam Instagram

    He promised me €1,500 a week. When I asked what he would like me to do in return, he simply told me he was looking for someone to talk to since his wife had passed away. To this, I asked how I could be sure that he wasn’t trying to scam me.

    He sent me some pictures of girls holding up signs that said, “Walker paid me 1,500 Euro” or “Walker is a real sugar daddy” written on them. However, he quickly unsent these messages after sending them — this part of the story remains somewhat of a mystery to me.

    Finally, I told him, “Okay, let's do it!” Immediately, he asked me for my shareable PayPal payment link and I sent it to him — I was so curious what would happen next.

    What happened then was — put simply — predictable. Walker sent me a picture of the pending payment and requested I send him a small amount first to get it verified. Not only did he expect me to pay a verification fee, but I needed to pay it via Google Play. Unfortunately for Walker the picture was enough to convince me of the scam. I blocked him.

    How do sugar daddy scams work?

    There are two main steps involved in sugar daddy scams: First, the fake sugar daddy contacts the potential victim on a social media platform, such as Instagram or Snapchat. Second, the scammer promises to send money as soon as the victim sends them something in return, to show their loyalty or clear the transaction.

    As I’ve described above, fake sugar daddies lure their potential sugar babies through direct messages that sound (and are) too good to be true. They first try to gain your trust before carrying on with requesting payment. They’ll then usually send you proof like fake transaction records or photos of other happy sugar babies.

    When they do get around to requesting payment verification, these scammers will disappear as soon as the money is sent to them. They may ask for payment to prove your loyalty, cover transaction fees, or validate your account, depending on the scam.

    Sugar daddy gift card scams often ask for payment verification via prepaid cards for apps like Google Play or Amazon, because those cards can’t easily be refunded or traced. Scammers might also deposit fraudulent money into the victim’s account from a stolen credit card. By the time the victim sends the fake sugar daddy what they want, the credit card company has charged the money back. Or, the scammer sets up a credit card in the victim’s name and runs up a huge debt.

    Sugar daddy scams have become increasingly common — many young women are affected by similar ploys from cybercriminals across the globe. Some of these women may be in a difficult financial situation and could really use the money. Alternatively, they may just be looking for a certain standard of living that they can't otherwise afford. The alleged “sugar daddies” exploit such situations to make a profit — and end up causing a lot of damage.

    Sugar daddy Instagram scams

    There are plenty of fake sugar daddies on Instagram. The most common scam scenario is like my case above. Typically, the scammer will send you a direct message, then move to another platform like WhatsApp. Finally, they’ll ask you to send them something first, before they can release the money.

    Another sugar daddy scam example on Instagram

    Some popular payment apps that Instagram scammers use are Cash App and PayPal. I’ll explain how they scam sugar babies using these apps below.

    Cash App scams

    Cash App scams start out on a social media platform like Instagram or Snapchat. Once a fake sugar daddy has lured their victim in, they can use Cash App to steal information or money.

    Here are some common sugar daddy Cash App scams:

    • Money in then out
      You receive a fraudulent payment in your account, then send a gift card or other payment the scammer requested. When Cash App realizes the money in your account is stolen, they take it back.

    • Fake verification
      The scammer asks you to transfer some money to prove your account is real or you’re genuine, then they block you and run off with the money.

    • Clearance fee
      The fake sugar daddy says you need to pay a sum of money to release the much larger figure they’ve promised. But, Cash App is a mobile payment app that works like Venmo, meaning person-to-person transfers are instant and never need verification.

    • Phishing
      Phishing attempts by a fake sugar daddy might mean they’ll ask for your $Cashtag, email, phone number, and address to complete the transaction. Provide only your $Cashtag for any legitimate transaction — it may help protect you from identity theft.

    • Fake payment
      You receive a fake payment notification supposedly from Cash App and the link to check the message is infected with malware.

    Knowing the types of sugar daddy scams out there can help you avoid them. And you can also protect yourself with a comprehensive security tool like Avast One. Avast can help protect you from viruses and other malware, as well as phishing attacks and other scams. Plus, it includes a host of built-in privacy features like a VPN to help keep your personal data safe. Help protect yourself against fake sugar daddies and other scammers with Avast One.

    PayPal scams

    The most common PayPal scams that fake sugar daddies use is sending their victim a screenshot of a “pending” transaction so it looks like the money is ready to hit their account. Of course, the scammer says they just need something in return first. As I mentioned in the example about my run-in with a sugar daddy on Instagram, these scammers often ask for gift cards. But, fake sugar daddies might also ask for payment via cryptocurrency.

    You should also watch out for cash requests over PayPal. The sugar daddy scammer sends a request for a small amount (as a guarantee) in the hope that you click Accept. Don’t.

    Sugar daddy Paypal scams typically start via Instagram or other social media.

    Snapchat scams

    Sugar daddies will try and scam a sugar baby on Snapchat just like on Instagram. They can use Snapchat to find their victims and start a conversation, hoping to turn it into a profitable scam. When it comes time to arrange payment, they’ll likely still use the Cash App or PayPal tricks described above, open a credit card in the sugar baby’s name and max it out, or request bank details or other personal information.

    How can you avoid being scammed?

    The best way to stay safe from fake sugar daddies and the social media scams they use is to avoid communicating with scammers in the first place. As a rule of thumb, it’s safe to assume that whenever something seems to be good to be true, it usually is. Here are a few additional steps that you can take to avoid scams.

    • Don’t answer messages from people you don’t know. If you’re in doubt, look at their profile to see if there's anything fishy about it.

    • Ignore any messages promising free money. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

    • Don’t give your personal details to strangers. You wouldn’t do it in person, so don’t do it online.

    • Do your research. Read through forums and relevant online groups to obtain more information on the types of scams you think you’ve encountered, like these helpful guides.

    How to know if a sugar daddy is legit?

    If you want to know how to spot a fake sugar daddy, here are some telltale signs:

    • They only want to DM you. Many sugar daddy scammers and other romance scammers avoid video chats or face-to-face meetups, lest you find out who they really are.

    • Their social media profiles are fake. Accounts with few followers, stock imagery, or zero posts are probably not real. Many fake sugar daddies have these types of profiles.

    • They ask you to send them money. A real sugar daddy has no need for your cash (they’re rich, after all) and won’t ask their sugar baby for money in any format.

    If all of this seems to check out and they send you money, wait a while before spending it to make sure it’s real and not fraudulent. But, the safest way to avoid getting scammed is to ignore any messages that seem too good to be true.

    If you do come across sugar daddy scams, report them directly to the network where they appear — whether on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or another channel. This is one step toward making the internet a safer place for us all.

    Report sugar daddy scams to the platform or app where they appear.

    Protect yourself with Avast

    Scams can happen anywhere — even on your favorite social media platform. To avoid sugar daddy scams, remember the golden rules above: don’t answer messages from people you don’t know, ignore any messages promising free money, and don’t hand out personal details to strangers.

    If you want to stay as secure as possible online, download Avast One for comprehensive protection. It will safeguard your online privacy and keep your communications secure. Sugar daddy scams aren’t the only threat — hackers and scammers constantly invent new tricks. Avast One will help keep your device secure and your personal information safe.

    Get advanced scam protection with Avast One

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    Get advanced scam protection with Avast One

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    Laura Josepha Zimmermann