Today’s Poll

How to avoid scams as a ‘sugar baby’

By Contributor
February 19th, 2024

Finding love can come with a sweet twist or a salty ending. In today’s world, ‘sugar dating’ is becoming increasingly prevalent. It mixes up regular dating with more business-like arrangements. This can seem quite appealing, especially for young people dealing with money issues, like those studying abroad or just not earning much.

In light of this trend, Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland BC & Yukon emphasizes the importance of awareness and caution for those considering entering the world of ‘sugar dating’.

What is ‘Sugar Dating?’

‘Sugar dating’ or ‘sugaring’ involves ‘sugar babies’ (usually younger people or those still developing their careers) who date ‘sugar daddies’ or ‘sugar mommas’ (often older wealthier people) in exchange for allowances, extravagant gifts, and/or travel.

How Sugar Dating Scams Work

Scammers reach out to young people struggling with money on dating sites or social media, pretending to be rich. They promise to give money in exchange for calls, photos, or going on dates. After the victim provides the agreed services, the scammer pays with cheques and asks them to donate a bit to an ‘orphanage’ or ‘charity’ on their behalf. But the ‘orphanage’ or ‘charity’ is actually linked to the scammer. When the victim tries to cash their ‘sugar baby’ cheque, it bounces and they are unable to recoup the funds.

“Romance scams exploit a person’s emotions on a deeply personal level, often leaving them embarrassed. We find victims of these scams are even more ashamed to admit that they’ve fallen for a scam,” says Neesha Hothi, Director of Communications and Marketing.

“Although this is still a rare scam, it is a heartbreaking one, in more than one sense. Not only is the victim mourning the relationship, but they may also have lost hundreds, even thousands of dollars in the process. Devastating on both fronts.”

Recent Canadian Report of ‘Sugar Dating’ Scam

A Pitt Meadows post-secondary student reported to the BBB Scam Tracker about an interaction she had with a scammer who wanted to be her ‘sugar momma’ in April 2022.

She received a message on Instagram from an older woman who claimed to be living in Vermont, USA, and was looking for a sugar baby. She wanted someone to talk to because she ‘felt lonely after her divorce.’ Then, the scammer explained that they would provide a $500 weekly allowance in exchange for regular phone calls.

The Pitt Meadows student provided her personal email and phone number after she was promised that a third-party accountant would transfer $500 into her bank account as a deposit. But she got cold feet when the scammer started trying to persuade her to donate a portion of her earned money to an orphanage of their choosing. She cut off communication with the supposed Vermont woman and hasn’t heard back since.

Here are BBB’s top six tips to apply when considering ‘sugar dating’:

Don’t feel pressured. Authentic ‘sugar daddies’ or ‘sugar mommas’ will not make you do anything without consent. From financial transactions to intimate acts, you should feel in control. Go in knowing exactly what you’re looking for in a match. Do you want a cash allowance? If so, how much do you have in mind? Is it certain bills you want covered? Are you looking for gifts to support a new business venture or hobby (paying for acting classes or to pay for your new website)? Set physical boundaries for what you’re open to in this kind of relationship and let them know your preferred method of payment or exchange.

Don’t depend on sugar dating as your only form of income. There’s never any guarantee of stability when it comes to sugar dating. If you plan to meet in person, bring up the subject of what you’re seeking beforehand, whether that be an allowance or something else. Some profiles will state they ‘don’t want anything transactional’, which is a signal that they don’t want to pay to access a date. There are instances of users leveraging such sites with no intention of participating in a ‘sugar’ relationship.

Keep dating profiles separate from social media. Any photo from a social media account can be easy to trace. Some internet sleuthing is a quick way for someone to uncover details about your life, your friends, and family. Keeping your dating or ‘sugar’ profiles different will help protect some of your anonymity until you feel comfortable. Similarly, don’t share your full name. Try using only your first name or a pseudonym at first.

Meet in a public place. Similar to online dating, avoid meeting a potential new ‘sugar’ partner in their car, in a parking lot, or anywhere you cannot leave safely and quickly without others watching you. Always choose a public place where you feel comfortable. Don’t hesitate to leave a situation where you feel uncomfortable. Don’t give out your home address or have someone pick you up from there. Always share your location with a friend when meeting a new person for the first time.

Vet profiles to avoid wasting your time. As with anyone you meet online, be sure that they are who they say they are. Ask questions about the details given in their profile, and ensure they aren’t posing as something they are not. Do not be fooled by lavish lifestyle imagery, it’s unlikely that a potential ‘sugar daddy’ or ‘sugar momma’ would be overtly flaunting a flashy lifestyle, they also don’t want to be taken advantage of. If you’re unsure, share the profile with someone you trust. A second opinion never hurts.

Arrange your own transportation to and from the date. Whether it’s taking public transportation, calling a friend for a pickup, or ordering from a ride-sharing app, have a plan to get home safe and sound, without letting your date know where you live. It’s in your own safety to avoid accepting a ride or walking back home with your date.

For more tips on how to protect your heart and your wallet, head over to

Other News Stories