The internet is full of dumbasses, but it’s rare that you see someone fully explain just how stupid they are without realizing that’s what they’re doing.

Which is why this recent article in The Cut was so beautiful. In theory, the article, written by The Cut’s financial advice columnist Charlotte Cowles, is a warning against falling for scams. In reality, it lays out just how easily this person could have been bamboozled by anyone willing to put in 20 minutes of effort.

There’s a lot to get into here, but I’ll give you the summary. Someone called Cowles on the phone pretending to be Amazon. They said that someone had stolen her identity — and thus, they needed to connect her to a representative at the FTC. Cowles accepted, and soon, she spoke with an “FTC Agent,” who gave her a badge number, for some reason, about the problem.

This “FTC Agent” proceeded to flim-flam her with a bunch of bullshit stories and information about her that could be obtained from a single data leak. After telling her that she’s under surveillance and shouldn’t tell anyone what’s going on, he connected her to a “CIA Agent,” who promptly told her that she needed to hand over $50,000 in a shoebox to a stranger through a car window.

Unbelievably, this financial advice columnist actually did it.

I’m not saying that this scam wasn’t well thought out — there are several points in the article that would be genuinely harrowing if you only had a handful of brain cells. What I’m saying is, first, that anyone who’s lived in America — or, shit, even had an American cell phone number in the past five years, knows that *every single phone call you get from an unrecognized number is a scam.*

Not only did this *financial advice columnist* pick up a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize, she fell for a series of setups that were likely designed to weed out anyone who wouldn’t be dumb enough or gullible enough to follow them. It’s the same reason scam emails have typos — they’re separating out the smarts, and you managed to pass their idiot test. Congrats!

Of course, Cowles tries to paint the most sympathetic picture possible. She says she had disbelief at several points but feared for her safety. She also said she wasn’t the type to fall for scams because, and I quote, “I vote, floss, cook and exercise.” I’m not saying it was an *effective* attempt at painting a sympathetic picture, but it was definitely an attempt.

Let’s be clear: This woman ignored pretty much every red flag in the book. Amazon only rarely makes outbound calls, and when they do, they won’t ask you to verify information. The FTC scam is well-known (it’s even the first goddamn Google result if you look up “FTC badge number”). Also, even though we all know they do it anyway, the CIA isn’t technically supposed to operate on American soil. Like I said, lots of red flags!

In short, Cowles’ career as a financial advice columnist is probably over, or if it isn’t, it really should be. However, if she wants to make a new Substack documenting the various ways she’s been owned over the years, I would happily support her. You just know that she’s purchased magic beans at some point, and I want to hear the story.