MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WKBT) — The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau on Monday warned of a new scam where the thief claims to be either a “sugar momma” or “sugar daddy,” then defrauds the target.
“If someone is offering money for nothing, there’s probably a catch, right? In this new twist on a romance scam, a con artist offers to become your ‘sugar momma’ (or ‘sugar daddy’) and pay your bills,” said the BBB in a statement.
According to BBB, people send a message through a dating or social media app offering to pay a weekly allowance of several hundred dollars in exchange for affection. The scammer sends the victim a check or pretends to transfer money into the victim’s account, then tell them to keep most of the mony as an allowance — after the victim does them a small favor.
“The scammer asks you to transfer part of the cash to their needy friend, pay an outstanding bill, or even make a donation to charity. One victim reported that 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 ‘orphanage’ was really just the scammer – or an associate – using a different name,” BBB said.
Some victims reported that the scammer needed access to their bank account to deposit money and shared their banking info with the con artist.
“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 sent out a list of ways to protect yourself from the 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 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 starts asking you for financial or personally identifiable information (PII), like your credit card number or government ID numbers.
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