Sugar daddy scams: red flags and how do they work?

Anton P. | February 23, 2023

Sugar daddy scams try to tempt people with money offers in exchange for companionship. 

The common grounds for such scams are social media like Instagram and dating sites like Tinder. Sugar daddy scammers create fake profiles containing information on their search for sugar babies. 

If a person takes the bait, scammers can trick them in various ways. Learn how sugar daddy scams work and how you can protect yourself.

Sugar daddy scams trick people into sending money or revealing personal information.

What are sugar daddy scams? 

Sugar daddy scams happen when a fraudster pretends to offer financial support to another person in exchange for their company. 

A real sugar daddy provides material objects like expensive clothes or trips. However, a fake sugar daddy is only after victims’ money or personal information. 

They might gain your trust and promise to send you money for casual chats or other favors. Instead, they will use various social engineering tactics to trick you into performing specific actions. 

Sugar daddy scams fall into the romance scam category. According to our research, such fraud had cost Americans $350 million in 2021. 

Privacy is a BIG DEAL!


How do the sugar daddy scams work?

Sugar daddy scams are too good to be true offers for money in exchange for friendships or different relationships. Here are the main steps that scammers go through: 

  1. Fraudsters might carefully pick their victims from social media sites. 
  2. They might post their sugar daddy offer online, like creating an ad or a fake dating app profile.
  3. Scammers will message selected victims or wait for interested users to contact them.
  4. After messaging on social media or dating sites, fraudsters will move the conversation to a different platform. 
  5. Then, they can ask for payments, phone numbers, banking information, or racy content. 

Telegram sugar daddy scams 

Scammers prefer communicating with their victims over more private messaging apps. Thus, a sugar daddy can quickly ask to use Telegram, Signal, or WhatsApp since they use end-to-end encryption. While wanting privacy for your conversations is normal, take it as a red flag. 

Cash App, Zelle, PayPal sugar daddy scams 

Fake sugar daddies exploit scams common among Cash App and Zelle communities. Essentially, scammers require payments through platforms offering weaker buyer protection. Also, they might send fake photos and screenshots of PayPal pending payments. 

So, refunds are unlikely if a victim makes payments to scammers via Cash App or Zelle. Therefore, Cash App and Zelle strongly recommend making transactions only with trusted people.

You may also insist on making transactions via more secure payment methods. However, scammers might claim various issues like stolen credit cards.

Instagram sugar daddy scams 

Sugar daddy scams frequently begin on Instagram, with fraudsters sending offers to various users. The DMs will seem friendly and aim to convince a person they are trustworthy. For instance, they might send screenshots of the balance of their bank account. 

Ignoring and deleting such private messages on Instagram or other social media platforms is best.

Fake checks 

Sugar daddy scams have exploited bounced checks. The criminals would send victims a check for hefty sums. Several days after cashing them, they would bounce as senders did not have sufficient funds. 

While the victim believes to have received money, the scammers require victims to cover fees. In other cases, they require compromising favors or images. 


Sugar daddy scams pretend to send victims hefty sums and require people to donate some of that money. Fraudsters will indicate the exact bank details for the transfer. However, after victims make transactions, scammers will disappear. They might also ask for gift cards, which should be an immediate red flag. 

Sugar baby scams 

Sugar babies might also use fake profiles to lure interested people. They might trick sugar daddies with fake promises or blackmail them into revealing their messages. Thus, scammers might work from both sides. 

Why do you keep getting sugar daddy scams?

Repetitive messages from fake sugar daddies could happen for various reasons. 

  • You have set your social media profile to public. 
  • Scammers got your email address or account information from data leaks. 
  • You have responded to previous phishing attempts, like random DMs. 
  • Criminals might try to find vulnerable people in need of financial support.

How to spot a fake sugar daddy

You can avoid sugar daddy scams by following these recommendations: 

  • Fake sugar daddy profiles will likely be new and contain very few posts. 
  • You should keep your social media profiles private. 
  • A sudden offer, be it for goods or income opportunities via Tinder or Instagram, is almost always a scam.
  • Avoid using peer-to-peer payment platforms to send money to people you do not know. 
  • You should use safer platforms for finding people with similar interests. 
  • It is never safe to reveal private information about yourself or your lifestyle.
  • If you have disclosed your banking information to scammers, contact your credit card company for help. 

The best defense against sugar daddy scams or other fraud is never to trust people you meet online.

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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.



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