Managing Money

Is That “Sugar Momma” a Scammer?

Is That “Sugar Momma” a Scammer?
Written by Deb Hipp

Move over, fake sugar daddies. Women can lie about having deep pockets, too.

You’ve probably heard of women who have a “sugar daddy” who pays their bills in exchange for sex or other forms of affection. Men can have a sugar daddy, too, but there’s also currently a “sugar momma” scam out there making the rounds, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker

“In this new twist on a romance scam, a con artist offers to become your “sugar momma” (or “sugar daddy”) and pay your bills. But according to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, it’s really a way to trick victims out of money,” says the BBB. Here’s how the sugar momma scam works.

A woman contacts you through a dating or social media site, offering to deposit a weekly allowance of several hundred dollars into your bank account. Then they ask you to deposit portions of the money to accounts for friends they want to “help out” or, in one case, even send funds to a nonexistent orphanage. Then their check doesn’t clear, and you have to pay back that money to your bank. One person reporting the scam to the BBB got taken for 20,000. But you don’t have to get tangled in the apron strings of a sugar momma.

Below are five ways to protect yourself from sugar mommas (or daddies) out to swindle you under the guise of romance.

1. Understand how check scams work

If your new sugar momma sends you a fat check for your first week’s allowance, that doesn’t mean she’s legit. The check could be counterfeit, which will land you in financial trouble. That’s because banks generally make funds from a check deposited into your account available within a couple of days. However, if you spend or transfer that money and the check turns out to be counterfeit, the bank is allowed to recover those funds from you. 

Think you could easily spot a fake check? Don’t be so sure. “Regardless of the format, the checks usually look professional and convincing,” warns the BBB.

Find out: Could You Be a Cybercriminal’s Next Money Mule Target?

2. Watch out for fake profile photos

Just because the photo in your sugar momma’s dating or social media profile shows a suntanned, bikini-clad hottie on the deck of a yacht doesn’t mean it’s actually a photo of her. It’s easy to steal photos from online sources such as social media, and using someone else’s photo to trick victims is a typical romance scammer move.

So, do your research before opening your heart – or your bank account – to any supposedly wealthy woman who claims she’s eager to support you financially. To find out if photos are stolen from an online source, perform a search on a website such as Google Images.

Find out: 5 Ways Scammer are Targeting Airfare Customers

3. Look up profile details online

The BBB recommends performing an online search for the profile, name, email address or phone number to see what comes up in search results. You may find out that your sugar momma’s details actually belong to an 80-year-old grandma living on a fixed income in Cincinnati instead of this woman who claims she’s rich and wants to support you financially.

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4. Ask detailed questions

If you connect with someone on a dating site who immediately offers to support you financially, that in itself should be a flapping red flag. However, if you still want to pursue this person and arrangement, make sure you ask a lot of questions first. 

Jot down what she tells you about where she’s lived and currently resides, previous relationships, where she works and other details. The more questions you ask, the more likely she is to trip up and provide conflicting information about her life if she is trying to con you.

Find out: 6 Red Flags of “Going-Out-of-Business” Online Scammers

5. Never send money or sensitive personal information

If someone you don’t know well and have never met in person asks you to send or transfer money, don’t do it. “Cut off contact if someone starts asking you for financial or personally identifiable information (PII), like your credit card number or government ID numbers,” says the BBB.

About the author

Deb Hipp