How does the “sugar daddy” Instagram scam works?

While there may always have been relationships between mature men and young women, it was the popularization of the term “sugar daddy” that contributed to it becoming an everyday theme. This is not only controversial over moral and legal issues, as it can also become a relevant information security issue, experts from a hacking course claim.  

A new Instagram scam was recently detected in which fraudsters pose as mature adults to gain the trust of young users on the social network (mainly young girls) for malicious purposes.

It all starts when the target user receives a seemingly harmless Direct Message (DM) on Instagram. If the message, supposedly coming from a mature man, is accepted, the scammers can begin to interact with the victims until they gain their trust, the experts of a hacking course mention. Throughout the conversations, scammers hint to the victim that they are rich or even millionaires, which could be appealing to anyone.  

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Discreetly, the scammer begins to obtain information from victims, especially about their financial status. When victims talk about their debts, the scammers offer to pay their credit cards, requesting the victim’s bank details and then making a transfer through a fraudulent account.     

This is where everything gets weird, as scammers ask victims to buy them gift cards on various platforms (Google Play Store, iTunes, among others). Victims, who believe their debts have been repaid, access scammers’ requests and send them the gift cards.

After draining the gift cards, the scammers disappear without a trace. To make matters worse, banks don’t take too long to detect that debts were paid using a fraudulent account, so the transactions get canceled. In the end, the victims are left with their original debt and without the money invested in the gift cards sent to the scammers, mention the experts of the hacking course.

The sugar daddy gimmick is just a variant of a very popular scam; in less elaborate examples, scammers simply choose random users and ask them for their bank details to offer alleged bank transactions in exchange for phone top-ups, gift cards or even other transactions for smaller amounts.

These scams are very common and unfortunately there is no way to prevent criminals from enabling social media accounts for malicious purposes, so only some security tips remain for users to consider:

  • Ignore DNIs from unknown users, without profile photos or without recent posts
  • If an unknown user tries to contact you and asks them to interact in other ways, reject the invitation
  • Enable protection of your Instagram account in the Settings menu
  • Most importantly, never share your bank details with strangers

For further reports on vulnerabilities, exploits, malware variants and computer security risks, it is recommended to enter the website of the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), as well as the official platforms of technology companies.