What is a sugar daddy scam? How to avoid them in 2024

An individual checks their phone and comes across a sugar daddy scam message.

What is a sugar daddy scam?

A sugar daddy scam is when a scammer tries to steal your money or personal information by posing as an older wealthy person interested in paying you in exchange for online companionship.

Imagine you're scrolling through social media when you notice you have a DM from a random stranger. While you ignore it at first, curiosity takes over and prompts you to open the message.

Much to your surprise, the stranger who messaged you is offering you $600 a week, and all you must do is chat with them.

These messages will usually come from accounts claiming to be wealthy individuals, known as sugar daddies or sugar mommas, that pay younger people in exchange for companionship or a romantic relationship.

No matter the circumstances, these situations share one commonality: They’re probably a sugar daddy scam.

Has a stranger ever offered you money online? If so, it may be a sugar daddy scam. Follow this guide to learn how to spot and avoid sugar daddy scams in 2024.

How sugar daddy scams work 

A graphic breaks down how a sugar daddy scam works.

Now, you might think that getting paid to talk to a random stranger is a pretty good gig, huh? Unfortunately, these situations are often too good to be true and are instead dangerous online scams.

To better understand sugar daddy scams, let’s look at how scammers use fake social media accounts and promises of financial gain to take advantage of you online.

Step 1: They create an online profile

Before a scammer can try to trick you into falling for a sugar daddy or sugar momma scam, they must first create the bait: an online profile.

In a sugar daddy scam, the scammer will create profiles specifically to catfish you. Because sugar daddies or sugar mommas are often older wealthy people, the profile will reflect just that, featuring images that showcase a luxurious lifestyle.

While a sugar daddy scam can take place across various platforms, you’ll likely first encounter a sugar daddy’s profile on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram or dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.

Step 2: They find and message you online

Once the scammer has created a sugar daddy profile to their liking, they will browse social media and online dating apps in search of younger people who may be open to a sugar daddy relationship, also known as sugar babies. This could be a college student low on cash or really anyone they think would be interested in their enticing financial offer.

After they’ve found their target, they’ll message you on social media. In some cases, the conversation could start as friendly or flirty, whereas others may get to the point much quicker, mentioning that they are a sugar daddy looking to pay you right off the bat.

In either case, the conversation will involve the scammer telling you that they would be willing to pay you for some sort of online companionship.

Step 3: They attempt to win your trust

Because these offers seem too good to be true, the scammer may already be prepared to try and win your trust. They may do this by sending you sugar daddy payment proof that they have paid other sugar babies in the past, usually by sending over a fake transaction screenshot to trick you into thinking the same will happen to you.

The sugar daddy may also try to win you over as a friend to increase the chances of you listening to them. This is why most sugar daddy messages are friendly and complimentary in nature. On top of that, a sugar daddy will likely tell you anything you want to hear to trick you into believing their lies.

Step 4: They scam you …

Next, the scammer will move the conversation toward their desired scamming method, in which they may scam you:

… by asking for a small fee

In this example of a sugar daddy scam, they will ask you to pay them a small fee to prove your loyalty. In return, the sugar daddy promises to begin sending you regular payments. While this may seem like a small price to pay for a weekly allowance, it is just an excuse to get you to send them money before they vanish without paying you.

… by tricking you with a temporary payment

Instead of asking you to pay them, the scammer will actually send you money. The catch is that the money could be coming from a stolen or hacked credit card or someone else’s hacked account. After sending you the funds, the scammer will claim they made a mistake and ask you to send either a gift card or a portion of the money to an outside account.

Once you follow their instructions, the scammer will take that money and run. In most cases, the person who lost their credit card or payment account login will catch on and report the scam, causing the scammer's original payment to be canceled, leaving you at a loss.

…by stealing your personal information

Another way in which sugar daddy scammers can take advantage of you is by trying to get you to give up valuable personal information that they can then use to hack into your accounts or steal your identity. They may do this by asking you for the information outright to “process your payment” or by including a link to a malicious website designed to steal your information in their fake sugar daddy texts.

The scammer may even send you to a website that infects your device with malware, another dangerous cybersecurity threat you could face in common sugar daddy scams.

Step 5: They vanish

Once the sugar daddy scammer gets whatever it is they are seeking from you, they’ll vanish completely, leaving you scammed and without a way to find out who the scammer is. Whether they block you immediately after the scam or delete their entire account, it will be difficult for you to ever get to the bottom of who scammed you.

Because of this, solid detection and prevention knowledge is key when it comes to staying safe from these devious scams. Read along to learn what red flags to watch for when dealing with a sugar daddy scam.

How to spot a sugar daddy scam: 6 warning signs 

A graphic shows an example of a sugar daddy scam and its warning signs.

If someone slides in your DMs offering to send you money, it may be easy to look the other way on anything that seems suspicious. But that is exactly what the scammer wants you to do. To avoid falling into a sugar daddy’s sweet trap, keep an eye out for these common warning signs.

  • Payment requests: If at any time the sugar daddy in question asks you to send them payment to prove your loyalty, it is likely a scam. This can be with payment apps, gift cards, or a malicious website.
  • Stolen photos: Because it is highly unlikely that a scammer would ever use their own photographs, keep an eye out for suspicious or stolen photos. To find out if a profile picture has been stolen, perform a reverse image search.
  • Poor spelling or grammar: If a sugar daddy message pops up in your inbox and you have a hard time understanding it due to poor spelling or grammar, that is likely because it’s a message sent by a scammer.
  • Requests for personal information: Another way  sugar daddy scammers can scam you is by asking for personal information that they can use to hack your accounts or steal your identity. If you’re ever asked to provide your sugar daddy with personal details, you’re probably dealing with a scam.
  • Lack of friends or followers: A telltale sign of a fake sugar daddy profile is an account with very few friends or followers. If you notice this, it could be because the account isn’t who they say they are.
  • Newly created account: If the profile in question doesn’t have many posts or a history of being active, it could be because it was created as a front for a sugar daddy scheme. Because of this, always thoughtfully check the profile for signs of legitimate use.

The next time you receive a random DM, look out for these common warning signs of a sugar daddy scam. Now that you know what these scams look like, let's find out how you can avoid them.

How to avoid sugar daddy scams: 6 protection tips

A graphic lists protection measures you can follow to help protect yourself from a sugar daddy scam.

While knowing how to tell if a sugar daddy is scamming you is a great way to prevent yourself from falling for a scam, you may wonder how you can avoid sugar daddy and sugar baby scams altogether. While it's possible that these scams may still enter your online life, following these tips can help you avoid them and their associated cybersecurity risks.

  • Ignore unknown senders: One of the best ways to avoid online scams like sugar daddy scams is to ignore unsolicited messages from unknown senders. By never even giving these accounts the time of day, they will likely move on to a new target, reducing your chances of being scammed.
  • Block suspicious accounts: If a suspicious account ever messages you, it may be best to block them. For example, if you encounter a sugar daddy scam on Instagram, be sure to block that Instagram account. That way, you reduce the risk of accidentally clouding your judgment if you end up forming an online relationship with the scammer and their fake persona.
  • Avoid clicking on links: Many sugar daddy scams rely on you following a link to a malicious website that may steal your information. Avoid clicking on any links included in sugar daddy text messages to reduce the risk of identity theft or infecting your device with malware.
  • Safeguard your personal information: No matter where you find yourself online, you should always safeguard your personal information to keep it from ending up in the wrong hands. To further prevent this, never share your personal details with any strangers online.
  • Never send money to strangers: Even if the sugar daddy claims they will send you more money following your payment, never send anyone you don’t know money over the internet. Not only could this lead to you losing your money, but the scammer may also try to target your online payment account once they find out your information.
  • Unleash your inner detective: Whenever you’re contacted by an unknown account, be sure to first put on your detective cap and do as much research as you can if you decide to respond or connect with them in any way. By taking a few extra minutes to investigate the account in question, you may end up uncovering some of the suspicious warning signs of a sugar daddy scam.

By following these protection tips, you can reduce your chances of falling for a sugar daddy scam, allowing you to confidently use social media and dating apps without fear of accidentally getting scammed. In the same vein, be sure to also take the steps necessary to protect yourself from romance scams, another online threat that can tug at your heartstrings — and your wallet.

FAQs about sugar daddy scams

Still have questions? Read along to learn more about sugar daddy scams.

Where do sugar daddy scams take place?

Sugar daddy scams can happen anywhere on the internet but are most common on social media platforms and dating apps. For example, Instagram sugar daddy scams are popular variations of the scam where a fake sugar daddy comments on your Instagram post or sends you a personal message to get your attention.

How do sugar babies get scammed?

Sugar babies get scammed by being tricked into giving up valuable personal information or money to their fake sugar daddy under the impression that they’ll receive a larger payment in return.

How do sugar daddies send money?

Sugar daddies may claim to send money via popular payment apps. Examples of these include Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App sugar daddy scams. In other cases, the sugar daddy may say that they will send you a check or cash in the mail.

Is PayPal safe for sugar babies?

While PayPal is a legitimate payment application, there are plenty of PayPal scams to be aware of. For this reason, it's best to approach every PayPal transaction with caution, as it could be a PayPal sugar daddy scam.

Are sugar daddies real?

Yes, it is possible that there are real sugar daddies out there who will pay sugar babies. But that doesn’t mean that all sugar daddies on Instagram or other forms of social media are legitimate. Because of this, it’s crucial that you always use these platforms with caution and be wary of fake sugar daddies.

Clare Stouffer
  • Clare Stouffer
  • Gen employee
Clare Stouffer, a Gen employee, is a writer and editor for the company’s blogs. She covers various topics in cybersecurity.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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