Scammer might be Caroline Calloway’s first memoir but it’s not the first time she’s written about her life. The 31-year-old influencer has been doing that since 2013, when she first made an Instagram account and bought 40,000 fake followers for $4.99.
Calloway’s early Instagram posts were long and intimate accounts of her life at Cambridge University, where she was studying art history. Her romanticised tales of British academic life—with its river punts, champagne charged student parties and calamitous love affairs—found Calloway her first readers, who treated her Instagram page like a Dickensian serial.
It was the beginning of Calloway’s carefully curated online identity, which, over the years, has taken on many forms to include, New York City socialite, Instagram artist, OnlyFans creator and, perhaps most famously, a scammer.
Calloway was first called a scammer in 2016, after she attempted to host a series of, now infamous,‘creativity workshops’ to pay back a $100,000 book advance she owed a publisher for a book she’d never written. The internet accused the workshops of being disorganised and overpriced, while images of Calloway’s 1200 empty mason jars and bowls of lettuce eaten on the floor went viral. People compared Calloway to the notorious con-artist Anna Delvey, while articles described Calloway as her very own ‘one woman Fyre Festival’.
Then, in a revealing tell-all for The Cut, Calloway’s close friend claimed to be her ghostwriter. The essay tore the remainders of Calloway’s perfected online persona to shreds—so, Caroline made herself a better one.
She took back the word scammer and turned it into her brand. She began wearing T-shirts with the word brandished on her chest like a scarlet letter. She claimed to love scandals, scamming and fame. Calloway became the one thing women embroiled in scandals aren’t allowed to be: completely and utterly unapologetic—and it was hard not to love her for it.
Ironically, Scammer is not a scam—Calloway’s 158-page self-published memoir is a funny, slightly mad, and yet, very real book. Within it, she reclaims her narrative with sharp examinations of her friendships, childhood and struggles with addiction, and provides new insights into a story we thought we already knew.
But for Calloway, who became famous for the things she allegedly didn’t write, the book also grants her a new identity: one as a writer.
“I wrote this book because I’m going to spend the rest of my life writing books, whether or not other people believe me,” Calloway tells marie claire Australia.
From Caroline Calloway, you couldn’t expect anything less.
Read an extract of Calloway’s book here.
Caroline Calloway Timeline
Caroline is a student at NYU. She joins Instagram and makes an account called Adventuregrams.
Caroline is accepted to Cambridge University and she moves to England. She starts posting long Instagram captions about her life there.
Caroline reaches 200,000 followers on Instagram.
Caroline signs with literary agent Byrd Leavell.
Caroline secures a $500,000 book deal with Flatiron Publishing for a novel titled And We Were Like.
Caroline announces the book deal is over because the proposed novel is too focused on her love life.
She tells her followers she owes the publishers $100,000 for the advance that was already paid to her.
Caroline moves back to New York and announces a global creativity workshop tour to pay back the money.
Two $165 workshops go ahead in New York before the rest are cancelled. Attendees claim the workshops are disorganised and overpriced. Caroline is called a scammer for the first time.
Natalie Beach publishes an essay titled ‘I Was Caroline Calloway’ on The Cut, where she accuses Caroline of being a bad friend and claims to be the ghostwriter behind Caroline’s early Instagram captions.
Caroline joins an OnlyFans account and starts making what she describes as ‘cerebral softcore porn’.
Caroline begins selling a homemade skin care product she calls ‘Snake Oil’ for $75 dollars a bottle.
Caroline deletes all of her posts and disappears from Instagram.
Caroline returns to Instagram with the news that she’s published her first memoir, Scammer.
The story originally appeared in the September issue of marie claire Australia, where you can read an exclusive extract from Caroline Calloway’s Scammer.