Insider Today: Scammers on the loose

Daniel Pietschnig and Jessica Madalena fell victim to a scammer who swindled them out of a $32,430 down payment.

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Welcome back to our Saturday edition and the start of the busiest season for traveling. One mom who visited Rome last July has a few tips on maneuvering during its peak tourist season: Sightsee at night and splurge on travel insurance.

On the agenda:

A doctor shared three things he avoids to keep his gut microbiome healthy.How Coach pulled off a comeback — and became Gen Z’s “It-Brand.”Kevin Costner learned that passion projects don’t always make box-office hits.A Michelin-starred chef shared the red flags he looks for in Italian restaurants.

But first: Scammers are on the loose.

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This week’s dispatch

It’s scammer season

“I was in shock and my heart dropped,” Daniel Pietschnig told Business Insider’s real estate reporter, Alcynna Lloyd. He and his wife had been scammed out of a $32,000 down payment for their first home.

The FBI said last year thousands of people lost $350 million to real-estate scams in 2021, an increase of 64% from 2020. In fact, BI has been reporting on scams and how they can wreck one’s financial life and sanity for years.

Another man and his wife were scammed out of more than $31,000, which they thought they’d given to a pool operator. Turns out they’d been conned into sending thousands of dollars to nameless email addresses in a Zelle scam.

Last year, lifestyle reporter Monica Humphries found dozens of travelers had fallen victim to an Airbnb scam in which hosts use a different address in a more ideal neighborhood to boost rentals.

Now that we’re in the slower months of the year, it’s a good time to shore up ways to prevent yourself and your bank account from costly scams — from thoroughly checking your mail (yes, snail mail) to being wary of paying anything upfront.

Tips for a healthy gut

Gut health is a hot topic these days. Research shows a healthy gut microbiome is linked to numerous benefits, from improved mood to smoother digestion.

Dr. Max Nieuwdorp, an endocrinologist and internist, says it can also affect our hormones. He shared the lifestyle changes he’s made to support his gut health and, in turn, his endocrine system. (Hint: Ease up on the red meat.)

See his lifestyle changes.

The second coming of Coach

Sometimes you need to flop before you slay. Coach’s designer handbags, an It-Girl staple in the aughts, fell out of fashion by the mid-2010s. Its reputation took a serious hit as consumers increasingly saw the monogrammed bags as cheap or outdated.

That’s why the Coach renaissance of the 2020s is all the more stunning. A successful rebrand, led by a Gen Z-oriented marketing campaign, has launched Coach to It-Bag status once more.

Inside Coach’s renaissance.

Kevin Costner’s bad movie bet

Actor Kevin Costner mortgaged his home to put $38 million of his own money into his passion project, the epic western “Horizon.” Then the film bombed.

Even Costner’s sizable “Yellowstone” following couldn’t save it from the box-office bin. Remarkably, it’s also not the first time Costner bet and lost big on a movie passion project. (Remember “Waterworld”?) As it turns out, self-financed auteur projects rarely deliver.

How Costner lost millions.

Also read:

Kevin Costner’s self-financed movie was a box-office flop. Experts say he’s ‘going to lose a lot of money.’Stefano Secchi said a lot of red flags he looks for are rooted in ingredients.

Veri ristoranti italiani (Translation: Real Italian restaurants)

Does the restaurant serve bread with butter? How about out-of-season ingredients? Is the pasta drowning in sauce?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you might be dining at an inauthentic Italian joint. These are among the five red flags a Michelin-starred chef told BI he always looks for when dining at high-end Italian restaurants.

How to spot the gimmicks.

What we’re watching this weekend

“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F”: Thirty years after the last movie in the franchise, Eddie Murphy returns as Axel Foley in a new sequel.“SPRINT”: From the same team who made “Drive to Survive,” Netflix has a new sports docuseries about seven elite Olympic-caliber sprinters.“Back to Black”: Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Amy Winehouse biopic is now streaming after its theatrical release earlier this year.

See the full list.

Deals we love

Salon-styled hair from home: You don’t need to spend $600 on a Dyson Airwrap — here are 11 dupes for the famous multistyling tool.If you’re hot, they’re hotter: Heatwaves are sweeping the country, so check out these cooling mats for dogs that can help keep your pup from overheating.Cheap TVs: Despite how affordable they are, these five TVs under $500 don’t fall short in terms of performance, features, and color.

More of this week’s top reads:

Retirement-age boomers are flocking to Scottsdale.A Russian describes going to a North Korean summer camp as a teen.America is facing a lifeguard shortage.How rich art collectors protect their masterpieces from beyond the grave.Young people are joining running clubs to find love and friendship.Cut back on processed foods with these two heart-healthy snacks.My family stayed in a luxurious $827-a-night villa at Disney World.Staying at an all-inclusive resort while sober doesn’t have to be boring.A couple who moved to Bali said making friends was one of the hardest parts.

The Insider Today team: Joi-Marie McKenzie, editor in chief of life, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York City. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York. Amanda Yen, fellow, in New York.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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