Romance scam boom

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March 20, 2023
Hello! It’s the first day of spring. This is Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. The banking crisis rolled through a second weekend, with UBS taking over Credit Suisse in a rescue deal. Our reporters around the world are covering the chaos — get up to speed with this helpful explainer.

As for today’s edition, here’s what’s on tap:

  • Romance scam alert: Digital grifters are bilking the lonely out of $1.3 billion a year.
  • Google staffers wrote to Sundar Pichai about mass layoffs: “Don’t be evil.”
  • Mark Zuckerberg is leaning into Meta’s “year of efficiency” the wrong way.
— Matt Turner


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Credit Suisse, Trump, & more

  • Credit Suisse tells staff to keep working and that salaries and bonuses will be paid “as previously communicated” after the UBS takeover deal, per reports. Read more.
  • Sen. Mark Kelly said the Russian fighter jet running into a US drone shows “how incompetent they are.” More on that here.
  • Stormy Daniels slammed Trump in a series of snarky tweets ahead of his possible indictment. Meanwhile, Trump said he will be arrested Tuesday and called on supporters to “take our nation back.”
Want to keep up with Insider’s top stories throughout the day? Get updates on the go with our app.


Romance scam boom

iStock; Robyn Phelps/Insider


A lover left in the lurch is a tale as old as time. But as the pandemic’s isolation has sent more people online in search of companionship, the stakes have grown.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission, the combination of pandemic isolation, online dating, and cryptocurrencies has spawned “a combustible combination for fraud.” Americans lost $1.3 billion to romance scams last year — and $3.3 billion in total since the start of the pandemic.

Experts say that loneliness makes people especially vulnerable to scams: One survey found that 17% of people who frequently felt lonely or socially isolated would keep talking to someone even if they were suspicious of their motives.

As one woman who was scammed out of nearly $40,000 said: “I’d forgotten how good it felt to have someone, anyone really, to talk to — but a man to talk to was especially nice.”


Google layoffs, Ritz-Carlton cruise, & more

iStock; Robyn Phelps/Insider


  • The problem with “love letters” to home sellers. Over the last 10 years, buyers have turned letters into a powerful tool to persuade sellers to pick them. But these letters are as problematic as they are ubiquitous, according to real-estate agents, lawyers, buyers, and sellers. Here’s why.
  • Google employees wrote an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai asking for better handling of layoffs. They want the company to consider freezing new hires and prioritize laid-off workers for job vacancies — and wrote, “Don’t be evil.” Read it here.
  • Silicon Valley Bank’s rise and fall mirrors the pioneers of the Old West. America’s pioneers have always been secure in the knowledge that they could run back to mommy and daddy if they scraped a knee. And likewise, SVB ran back to the government. Read the full story here.
  • Americans are buying Ozempic from Canada and Mexico to save hundreds each month. Demand for weight-loss drugs is surging — but the drugs’ high cost and a lack of insurance coverage means they’re out of reach for many. What’s going on.
  • EV owners are increasingly frustrated with home charging. A new study shows that satisfaction with the home charging experience is on the decline — and that should worry every EV maker. More here.
  • See inside the Ritz-Carlton’s new luxury cruise ship. The 456-guest Ilma cruise vessel will enter service in September 2024, with prices starting at $6,800 per person. Check it out.
  • Meta’s cuts may be damaging for its “year of efficiency.” Mark Zuckerberg announced a further 10,000 layoffs last week as part of his plan to boost productivity and turn the company into a talent magnet. But the cuts could have the opposite effect. Here’s why.

Cryonics facility

Cryonics Institute
This facility freezes people and pets after they die — and stores their preserved remains upside down in cryostat chambers. See inside.



Rise and Fall


Why three iconic airlines disappeared from the skies. Hooters once had its own airline, but it wasn’t long before it was grounded. Pan Am was America’s premier airline, but struggled through years of financial turbulence. And Concorde was an engineering marvel, but was brought down by tragedy. See their stories.


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This edition was curated by Matt Turner, and edited by Hallam Bullock, Lisa Ryan, Dave Smith, Nathan Rennolds, Grace DeGraaf, and Jack Robert Stacey. Get in touch:

Categories: Lifestyle

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