If you haven’t heard about Carlos Watson, founder of now-debunked digital media start-up Ozy, you’re in for a treat. In 2021, the New York Times reported that the silicone valley media darling was lying to investors about his site’s success.
What’s weirder, it all fell apart on a zoom call. According to the New York Times, an Ozy media executive impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with investors at Goldman Sachs to pretend that Ozy had a great relationship with YouTube.
Goldman Sachs executives discovered this after contacting the purported YouTube executive’s assistant, who confirmed that the “executive” was an imposter. Watson then came clean-ish, claiming his co-founder, aka the fake exec, was having a mental breakdown.
Suffice it to say; things quickly fell apart after the New York Times report. Ozy shut its doors within days of the story coming out. Shortly after that, Federal Prosecutors and the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into the business.
As much as this country loves a good scammer, having an entertaining scam does not protect you from the law.
CleverMade Collapsible Storage Bins
Lightweight yet heavy duty
Good storage bins are essential for keeping your home or office organized and clutter-free. These are versatile, collapsible containers that come in various shapes and sizes that also stack together.
And on Thursday, Watson was charged with multiple counts of fraud in the Eastern District of New York.
Prosecutors did not exactly have kind words to share about Watson.
“Carlos Watson is a con man whose business strategy was based on outright deceit and fraud – he ran Ozy as a criminal organization rather than as a reputable media company,” said Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, in a statement.
In a statement, the Justice Department ripped into Watson’s business practices.
The Eastern District accused Watson of misleading investors (which is very illegal) and impersonating multiple media executives in communication with Ozy leadership and potential investors.
So if you’re wondering if it was just that one YouTube executive, according to the DOJ, it seems to go further than that.
It’s obviously bittersweet to see a promising Black founder go down. When Watson launched Ozy in 2013, it was met with a ton of fanfare.
But at the same time, if all of this is true... Watson has a lot to answer for legally.