April 15, 2024

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Phone scammers scam financial journalist out of $50,000


“Psycho War”Financial journalist gives fraudsters $50,000 in a shoebox

She spent hours on the phone and eventually believed everything. The American columnist lost a fortune.

Fabian Boschl

Phone scammers: That's it

  • American journalist Charlotte Cowles lost $50,000.

  • She fell for phone scammers.

  • He spoke to employees of Amazon, the Consumer Protection Agency and the CIA.

Fraudsters use shock calls to steal millions. It's not just the elderly who fall victim to their psychological tricks. According to studies, it affects Gen Z or Gen X more often than people over the age of 60.

New York financial columnist Charlotte Cowles describes how quickly one can lose reason in her article “cut”. She describes giving a stranger $50,000 in a shoebox.

Identity theft?

Cowles was working from home when she got the call. An Amazon customer service representative, Krista, wanted to investigate unusual account activity and asked if she had purchased $8,000 in Apple devices using her business account.

Both agreed that it must be a case of identity theft, since Cowles said he knew nothing about it and didn't have a business account. Christa said Amazon has a big problem with this, which is why Coles should talk to the U.S. Consumer Protection Agency about it.

Money Laundering and Drug Trafficking

The employee referred her to authorities. Cowles suspected nothing wrong; The person from the agency knows her address, date of birth and social security number. That's why she believed him when he told her he had 22 bank accounts, four properties and nine cars registered in her name.

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He has a car at the Mexican border with drugs and bank statements in his name. She transferred three million dollars to other countries. An investigation into money laundering and drug trafficking is currently underway.

Border police found a car in her name with drugs and bank statements, the man said by phone.

Border police found a car in her name with drugs and bank statements, the man said by phone.

IMAGO/Pond5 Images

He wanted to know if she had ever used public Wi-Fi. When she mentioned public airport Wi-Fi, she said a lot of identity theft started. The person on the phone told them not to talk to anyone about the incident, making everyone suspicious and their communications being monitored.

The number is fake

He wanted to help save his money. It was to be sent back to the CIA, the US foreign intelligence service. Cowles writes that he was now dubious, but since no one asked him for money, he accepted it.

Nevertheless, he requested evidence from a CIA agent named Michael Sarano. He hung up on her and asked her to look up the FBI number. He called her again using that number. Such numbers cannot be handled, he said. However, that is not true; Police warns against number spoofing Cowles said he wanted to speak to a lawyer, to which Sarano said he could no longer help him.

The man pressed him and said that it was important now to act quickly. She hangs herself and puts herself and her family in danger. “But do you really want to take that risk with a small child?” During a money laundering investigation, the CIA must freeze its assets for up to two years. So she takes the money and gives it to one of his colleagues. In return, she receives a check with clean cash.

This is what the police advise when they get shock calls

  • If someone asks for money or valuables, end the conversation immediately.

  • Inform the police on the emergency number 117.

  • Do not disclose details of family and financial situation.

  • Contact the person or company in question who is said to have been victimized.

  • Discuss the alleged incident with those around you.

  • The police do not call the emergency number 117 and do not demand money over the phone.

  • On top of that Website of the Zurich City Police You can find more tips here.

She withdrew $50,000 from the bank. The attentive cashier handed her a form about the attempted fraud. Cowles put the money in the shoebox as instructed. He then handed it over to an undercover agent who allegedly arrived at his house in an SUV.

After a while, she heard nothing and realized she had fallen into a trap. “It is impossible to explain why I have adopted this logic,” writes Cowles. But after five hours on the phone she was exhausted. “Someone waged a psychological war against me and I lost.”

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