Financial columnist scammed: $50K gone in an elaborate con job.

February 16, 2024
1 min read


New York Magazine financial columnist Charlotte Cowles fell victim to an elaborate scam, where scammers posed as Amazon representatives, Federal Trade Commission investigators, and CIA agents. They convinced Cowles that she was under investigation for money laundering and persuaded her to withdraw $50,000 from her bank account and hand it over to them. Cowles admitted to her mistake and questioned why she didn’t seek help or report the scam sooner. Her story serves as a cautionary tale, showing that even savvy individuals can be deceived.

New York Magazine financial columnist Charlotte Cowles wrote a lengthy account of an elaborate scam she fell victim to, in which she was duped out of $50,000. The scam began with a phone call from someone claiming to be an Amazon employee, informing her that an account in her name had made fraudulent purchases. Cowles was then transferred to an “FTC investigator” who spun an intricate web of deceit, linking her name to a car rental involved in drug trafficking.

Under the threat of freezing her assets and Social Security number, Cowles was instructed to withdraw $50,000 in cash. The scammers convinced her that a CIA agent named Michael would collect the money and take it to the Treasury Department, which would then send her a check for the same amount. Despite her skepticism throughout the ordeal, Cowles handed over the money due to the scammers’ intimate knowledge of her personal details.

After a day of secrecy, Cowles came clean to her husband and confronted the scammers, realizing that she had been deceived. She expressed feelings of violation and self-doubt, questioning her judgment and tendencies toward people-pleasing and conflict aversion. Cowles, who has worked as a financial columnist for New York Magazine and The New York Times, highlighted the personal touch of the scammers and the vulnerability it caused, even for individuals who are financially savvy.

This story serves as a cautionary tale, demonstrating how even the smartest individuals can be tricked by elaborate scams. Cowles admitted her mistake and wondered why she didn’t seek immediate help or report the scam sooner. Her vulnerability and self-reflection provide insights into the psychological tactics used by scammers and the potential consequences for victims.

Previous Story

NY magazine columnist confesses losing 50K: money woes, yikes!

Next Story

Bajaj Finance climbs on Friday, yet lags behind the market.