FTC alerts on scammers as columnist loses $50K in scam.

February 17, 2024
1 min read


  • Federal Trade Commissioner Lina Khan warned the public about scammers after a financial advice columnist lost $50,000 in a ‘vishing’ hoax.
  • The columnist, Charlotte Cowles, was scammed by a man impersonating an FTC investigator who claimed she needed to pay cash to resolve identity theft issues.

In response to a troubling story of a financial advice columnist being scammed out of $50,000, Federal Trade Commissioner Lina Khan issued a warning about the dangers of voice phishing scams. Charlotte Cowles, a financial advice columnist with New York Magazine’s The Cut, fell victim to a scam in which she handed over $50,000 to a man claiming to be an investigator with the FTC. The man impersonated a government agent, knowing personal information about Cowles and threatening her with arrest. This incident highlights the importance of being vigilant and cautious when receiving unexpected calls or messages asking for personal or financial information.

Khan emphasized that the FTC would never ask individuals to confirm Social Security numbers, disclose bank account details, or transfer them to other agencies. The story serves as a reminder of the devastating consequences of falling prey to scams. Khan shared a link to an FTC proposal for penalties against individuals impersonating government officials or posing as businesses to deceive unsuspecting victims.

Going forward, it is crucial for individuals to verify the authenticity of callers claiming to be from official organizations and to never disclose sensitive information over the phone. The Federal Trade Commission’s warning sheds light on the prevalence of vishing scams and the need for increased awareness to protect against fraudulent activities targeting unsuspecting individuals.

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