Kent State University recently cracked the top 10 in national rankings. Kent didn’t win recognition for its prowess in basketball or academics. Rather, Kent has become nationally prominent for producing sugar babies. Sugar babies are women, usually college students or young people struggling to make ends meet, who go online to seek relationships– and a financial assist–from wealthy, older, men.
Kent State was the 8th ranked university in producing new sugar babies last year, according to SeekingArrangement.com, the most well known site for connecting sugar babies with sugar daddies. In 2016, 124 Kent State students signed up to use SeekingArrangement.com, bringing the total to more than 1,000, and putting Kent in a league with schools like New York University, Arizona State University and the University of Alabama.
Sugar Baby sites are proliferating amid widening income disparities and greater financial strains on millennials. Some feminists and traditionalists complain that sugar babies are doing nothing more than practicing a thinly veiled form of prostitution. But ever more college students and recent grads are embracing sugar daddies as a pragmatic solution for mountainous student debt.
To drive home the point, SeekingArrangement.com maintains a U.S. student debt clock that is approaching $1.5 trillion. Other women become sugar babies after finding themselves unable to meet living expenses on precarious, gig economy jobs. After a freelancer saw a veterinarian’s bill for her sick bulldog wipe out her meager nest egg, she signed up on SeekingArrangement.com and then wrote a national magazine article about it.
The SeekingArrangement.com site evokes images of a kind of digital fairy tale—albeit for romantics with one eye on the bottom line. The site features a photo of a winsome woman in a red dress caught in the embrace of a tall, dark and handsome man in a business suit. “Where beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships,” the text says. SeekingArrangement.com, which was started in 2006, claims over five million users. It has spawned a host of imitators with names like www.FindrRchGuys.com.
But the online sugar high that men get on these sites has led to a problem: a surge of cases involving extortion of sugar daddies. In 2013, FBI agents arrested a Florida woman for allegedly blackmailing a married older man she’d met on a site called sugardaddyforme.com. She had threatened to expose the nude photos of her 56 year old sugar daddy unless he paid her off, the feds said. This sugar baby had also allegedly lied about her age and sent her sugar daddy photos of a blonde porno star rather than of herself.
In another case, a multimillionaire from Greenwich, Conn., paid out tens of thousands of dollars in blackmail to at least three sugar babies who threatened to expose him, according to press reports based on police documents. The husband and accomplice of one of the blackmailers admitted to police that their victim, Stephen Dent, the head of an investment firm, “turned out just to be a gold mine to us.”
In my practice, I’ve seen a lot of cases of extortion, online defamation, harassment, and all sorts of other types trouble arising from sugar baby dating sites. The most serious cases are when users of these sites become targets of criminal extortion.
In some cases, a meeting on the site leads to a legitimate relationship. It may last for a while, but eventually goes sour. When the relationship ends, the woman is upset she’s no longer getting her “allowance” or other cash and gifts. So she tries to negotiate a settlement by holding the man’s reputation hostage.
Other cases can be much more malicious and criminal.
In some instances, men are becoming victimized after only meeting with someone once, or never meeting them at all and only chatting online. The woman (or whoever the nefarious online person is), suddenly turns the conversation straight to blackmail. They demand money and threaten to publicizing embarrassing information over the Internet or contact friends, family, or significant others unless their demands are met.
Other cases can be even more extreme.
Avoid using these types of websites to begin with.
Although for anyone faced with this type situation, this advice is obviously too little to late. Figuring out what to do or who to turn to for help once it happens is what becomes most important.
Every situation is unique, but it may surprise many to learn that there are legal strategies and approaches that can instantly allow you to gain leverage, save face, and resolve these types of crises in a discreet and confidential manner.
For starters, it’s usually not wise to give in and pay a threat of extortion. However, this may not always be the case.
Additionally, immediately turning to law enforcement for help might not be the right decision either. If law enforcement is contacted, its important to have rock solid evidence in hand. Otherwise, your case may not be taken seriously.
Often, using civil legal remedies such as injunctions, emergency restraining orders, and lawsuits are the most reliable and powerful tools that can be utilized to get immediate forms of relief.
Whatever you do, seek help immediately: Retain a lawyer with experience in dealing with these situations.
It’s nearly impossible to handle a threat of extortion on your own. When faced with extortion, a victim is in a state of duress and coercion. It’s upsetting, and it can be difficult to think and make level headed and objective decisions.
Furthermore, if the damage has already been done, its important to then take steps to repair the damage that was caused, prevent future harm, and clean up any negative information online that was published as a result.
At Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lews, LPA, we have helped multiple clients seek restraining orders and injunctions, figure out the true identities and location of online extortioners, assist with providing admissible evidence for police investigation and criminal prosecution, and successfully helped clients remove and de-index harmful online content that was published because extortion stemming from sugar baby dating websites.
If you or someone you know is facing or has faced these types of issues as a result of using a sugar baby website, the law firm Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA can help. To schedule a free and confidential consultation where you can explore your legal options with a lawyer call Aaron Minc at 216-373-7706 or contact us online.