If someone is offering money for nothing, there’s probably a catch. There's a new twist on a romance scam where a con artist offers to become your sugar momma or sugar daddy and pay your bills. But it's really a way to trick you out of money.

How the Scam Works

You get a message through a dating or social media app from someone offering to be your sugar momma or sugar daddy. In exchange for your affections, they offer to pay you a weekly allowance. The offer sounds too good to be true, but your benefactor seems legitimate – at first.

The con artist sends you a check or pretends to transfer money into your bank account. They tell you to keep most of the money as your weekly allowance – after you do them a small favor. Then you're asked to transfer part of the cash to their needy friend, pay an outstanding bill, or even make a donation to charity. One victim reported to the Better Business Bureau, the con artist wanted him to donate several thousand dollars of the money he received to an orphanage. Of course, the check or bank transfer was fake, and the orphanag” was really just the scammer – or an associate - using a different name.

“I believed that these checks were legit and the funds were real,” one victim told BBB Scam Tracker. “I ended up just sending my own personal money to these contacts... Which ended up costing me $19,500.”

Watch out for other versions of this con too. Some victims report the scammer claimed to need access to their bank account in order to deposit money and they ended up sharing their banking info.

Protect Yourself From this Scam

  • Know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to using checks. Banks will make the funds from a check available before the money is actually transferred into your account. If you spend the money and the check is a fake, the bank has the right to recover the funds from you.
  • Research your date first. Many scammers steal photos from the internet to use in their dating profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using Google Images to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else. You can also search online for a profile name, email, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t.
  • Ask specific questions about details given in a profile. A scammer may stumble over remembering details or making a story fit.
  • Never send money or sensitive personal information to someone you’ve never met in person. Cut off contact if someone starts asking you for financial or personally identifiable information.
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