They Thought They Found Online Sugar Daddies. Instead, They Got Scammed.
“Baby, resend your Cash App tag. I’m sending you 5k right now,” David texted me, right after I told him I had never had a sugar daddy before and would love to be spoiled.
A quick Twitter search for “sugar baby wanted” led me to a seemingly endless stream of tweets from older men's profiles, shouting into the virtual world that they were looking for a young woman to spoil. I decided on David, a bald man with a fluffy white mustache. His icon was a selfie taken on an airplane. In the picture, he's wearing a Snoopy graphic tee. Approachable.
I liked his tweet, followed him, and then slid right into his open DMs with a simple “Hey daddy,” which was quickly met with a “Hey baby.” After exchanging a few messages, we moved on to the topic of allowance.
Which brings us here.
“You will need to send $30 to my manager cash app rn for the attorney fee payment immediately. You make the payment and complete your transaction you will receive your money,” he sent over text. He included a seemingly credible screenshot of a pending $5,000 to my account.
My first thought was, “What older man uses the acronym ‘rn’?” My second thought was, “I sort of understand why so many people fall for this.”
For years, sugar babies have been seeking sugar daddies—or mommas—whether it is to live a more lavish lifestyle (hello Chanel bags and dinners at Nobu!) or for financial support to simply pay the bills. But as IRL sugaring has proliferated, so have sugar scams. Enter: Twitter sugar daddies.
The pandemic and the financial hardships it has caused have popularized sugaring even more. SeekingArrangement is a site for sugar babies to find sugar daddies and vice versa. According to a company spokesperson, SeekingArrangement experienced a 74% year over year increase in users—seeing over 10,000 new sign-ups a day—at the end of March, after quarantine had begun. The interest hasn’t slowed. In July, the company saw a 73% year over year increase. That's a whopping 28,000 new sign-ups everyday compared to this time last year.
Additionally, online data site Treendly shows that the search term “online sugar daddy” has sustained yearly growth, and as of the first week of July, the term is peaking with a search interest rate of 83%. At the beginning of March, right before lockdown, the term had only a 25% search interest. Treendly also reports that related search terms “sugar daddy online only relationship” and “how to get an online sugar daddy” are rising Google queries. Working from home, am I right?
Not to mention, you can search "sugar daddy" on Twitter, and you'll likely see new tweets every few seconds or so on this topic.
Sugar daddy profiles pop up whether you’re looking for them or not. Their middle-aged face icons are more likely to be casual selfies than LinkedIn style headshots. Their bios may range from “Loyal, God fearing man” to “Looking for someone to spoil” to “Legit sugar daddy helping broke people.” Girls respond to their tweets soliciting DMs to talk cash (as I did in my experiment with David) or they might reach out to attractive young women they find on the site on their own.
Sugaring is particularly popular with college-aged girls who are looking for help paying for tuition or paying off student loans. Twenty-three year old university student Sarah* wasn’t necessarily in the market for a sugar daddy—online or offline—but when one slid in her DMs, this blonde hair, blue-eyed psych major entertained the idea.
“I honestly just needed extra cash. I’m a college student and just felt bad asking my parents for money or to keep paying for my stuff. I wanted to help out,” Sarah shared. “That backfired.”
Their conversation started off the way you’d expect it to. He told Sarah he wanted to spoil her and make her life better. “I’m a god fearing man who does this out of the goodness of my heart. Many people have accepted me as a sugar daddy and then leave when they get the money,” he told her.
After that message, Sarah felt some sympathy for this guy. “It kinda made me feel like, whoa, maybe this dude really is just lonely,” she said. “So I responded because I felt bad.” Things went downhill from there, as the “sugar daddy” started to organize payment through Cash App.
Sarah didn’t know at first, but this daddy was about to loop her into the fees scam. Based on my own experience scam-baiting Twitter sugar daddies, this seems to be the most popular method. Sugar daddies other than David tried the same trick on me during my scambaiting marathon.
“He would screenshot a transaction that said his money went to my account but would not be accessible without me accepting and paying the fees,” she recalls. "So she went ahead and paid the 'fee,' with the promise of receiving the large sum of money after her payment was processed."
But the money didn’t go through. The scammer told her he needed yet another fee for her to access the money, and so she paid. Soon into the process, she knew something fishy was going on. When she confronted her sugar daddy about her concerns, she was met with threats. He told her she’d lose all her money if she didn’t pay up.
After more requests and threats, Sarah was out $300. “Yes, it was idiot me who got scammed by a sugar daddy,” she joked.
She never got the money that was promised to her.
Sarah’s far from the only one getting scammed—and the trick she fell for is certainly not the only one that fake sugar daddies have up their sleeves. Another popular request in lieu of "fees” is a gift card of the sugar daddy’s choosing, usually from Amazon.
Twenty-one year old Jen*, a glasses-wearing design student in debt, had secured the bag with her sugar daddy Max, and was ready for her first payment. However, Max told her she’d need to send him an Apple gift card in order to get her allowance.
His excuse was that he was in the military and had to use a device that charged him every time he texted and sent money. The gift card was to make up for these fees.
Jen went to the store and purchased the Apple gift card he requested. After sending him the information for the card, he claimed it wasn't working. She sent info for another Apple gift card, and another, and a Google Play gift card, over the course of three days. During this time, he emotionally abused her and withheld the allowance he had promised to give her.
He often became angry and would call her over the phone, threatening to notify the FBI of her actions if she didn’t do as he asked. Screenshots of their conversations reveal him saying, “Are you deaf? Your fucking money is pending. Get me the $150 card and I will load and send you all your money.”
All the gift cards she paid for added up to $500.
She blocked him on Twitter but didn't block his number. “I started to not eat and lose sleep over this because he would continuously text and call,” Jen says. “I lost almost 7 pounds due to the stress.”
Next came a text message from “the FBI,” with a “final warning.” The text said if she didn’t do what Max demanded, they would send letters to her employer and “hunt her down.”
After blocking the numbers of “Max” and “the FBI,” she was finally free from their torment. Fortunately, Apple and Google refunded her for some of the money she lost after she explained her situation to their customer service teams.
Another method sugar daddies use to scam their victims is to send virtual checks. This is potentially the most harmful scam since you risk the possibility of losing your bank account information.
When a sugar daddy followed 19 year old Eliza on Twitter and slid in her DMs, she thought, “Why not take some man's money?” She had summer plans to go to Greece (pre-Covid travel restrictions) and figured she could use extra money to finance the trip and buy new outfits for her vacation.
Her sugar daddy sent her a photo of a check for $3,800, which had already been deposited. The next day, she woke up to a bank account balance of -$3,700.
The sugar daddy texted her with a “Hey baby.” He let her know that the money should be available in her account and asked her how she was doing. She responded, “Not well, because my bank account says I’m at negative $3,707 now.”
He said that was “impossible” and asked to see a screenshot. She obliged. After that, he never texted her again.
Eliza’s bank account was closed for investigation for a month. She was able to get her money back after two months, but ultimately had to set up a new bank account.
These three are far from the only ones getting ripped off. After I sent out a tweet asking to get in touch with people who’ve been scammed by Twitter sugar daddies, multiple girls DMed me to let me know that they’d fallen for one of these scams. One of them told me she’s still paying off a $2,600 loan she took out from losing money to a scammer.
Real sugar daddies will not ask for gift cards, “attorney fees,” or any other type of random fees they make up. If someone actually wants to send you money, they will send it. They won't ask you to pay them first. And if they're obsessed with tweeting out the fact that they’re not a scammer, well, then they’re definitely a scammer.
Fake sugar daddies go to great lengths to prove their “authenticity.” I witnessed some interesting ones during my scam-baiting.
One guy, “Michael,” tried to scam me with a similar approach to the first example I mentioned. He told me I would need to pay an “attorney fee” to him before he could send me my payment. When I pushed back against his demands, he proceeded to send me a video of a smiling young woman saying, “Hey guys, I just received my first payment of $5,000 from my sugar daddy, Michael Rob.”
He said, “You can see I just paid her bill off now. So once you pay it you will receive your payment now. I’m not here to scam you.”
I told him there’s no such thing as an attorney fee. He responded with “Oh nvm then bye” and blocked me. My theory is, the girl in the video is actually the scammer herself.
Various others tried to get me to pay attorney fees or some other type of bogus fee. When I pushed back and told them that these “fees” are fake and a clear giveaway that it's a scam, they’d block me. Guilty, much?
Another scammer tried to make me feel bad for him by asking me to promise that I wasn’t a scammer. “I have nothing to do with scams, and i am not one of those men that will do such because i am an elderly man and all i am seeking for my special woman to love her and to be loved back.”
He proceeded to ask me for an Amazon gift card in order to verify my identity. I told him that the internet says to not send gift cards to Twitter sugar daddies. Once again, blocked.
After blocking me, he moved on to follow two of my friends on Twitter, both of whom texted me to ask what was going on. I warned them that he was a fake.
Since following a few of these sugar daddy accounts, I've noticed that I’ve become a target. After I follow another, I always gain new followers—fake sugar daddy followers.
And now when they message me, I say, “Listen, I know this is a scam.” Of course, blocked.
I’m pretty sure that not a single “sugar daddy” on Twitter is real.
As for Sarah, Jen, and Eliza, they’ve learned their lesson, and know how to watch out for scams. If they ever decide to seek out a sugar daddy, they sure won’t be looking on Twitter.
If it seems like it’s too good to be true, well, it probably is.