They promise to pay your bills and make your dreams come true in exchange for your affection.
But with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the Better Business Bureau is issuing a public alert about “scam dupe daters” promising to be your “sugar momma” or “sugar daddy.”
According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, this is just a new twist on a romance scam.
“It’s really a way to trick victims out of money,” according to the alert.
The scammer will contact someone through a dating or social media application offering to be their “sugar momma” or “sugar daddy.”
“In exchange for your affection, they will pay you a ‘weekly allowance’ of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. The offer sounds too good to be true, but your benefactor seems legitimate – at first,” according to the BBB alert.
The scammer will then send you a check or pretend to transfer money into your bank account or a peer-to-peer payment service like Cash App, PayPal, or Apple Pay.
They tell you to keep most of the money as your “weekly allowance” – after you do them a small favor, the BBB advised.
The scammer then asks you to transfer part of the cash to their needy friend, pay an outstanding bill, purchase a gift card, or even donate to a charity that ends up being fake.
Some victims even report that the scammers are asking victims to pay them back for transaction or processing fees, sometimes with Bitcoin, according to the BBB alert.
“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.”
The BBB advised to watch out for other versions of this con, too. Some victims report that scammers claim to need access to their bank accounts to deposit money.
“One victim shared, ‘He made the deposit and my account got restricted. The bank needed his verification and he refused to give it unless I [gave] him my (Social Security Number) and ID,’” according to the alert.
The BBB offered the following advice to avoid similar scams:
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 fake, the bank has the right to recover the funds from you. Learn more about check scams.
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 a website, like 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 asks you for financial or personally identifiable information, like your credit card number, bank account number, Social Security number, or other government ID numbers.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter/X @EagleTribJill.