Scammers find their next target
The Hustle

Scammers find their next target

Today, luxury cars sell on Instagram, and plant-based eggs will soon hit that Tim Hortons ham, but first…
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Nextdoor emboldens scammers in your parents’ neighborhoods

Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, has given people the opportunity to better understand their communities and meet their neighbors. 

But it has also made the cul-de-sac more vulnerable to petty crime. 

As BuzzFeed reports, scammers have taken advantage of the sense of security created by Nextdoor to perpetrate fraud on unsuspecting neighbors. 

Hide your kids, hide your parents 

In one case, a Colorado woman picked a contractor recommended in her Nextdoor group for fence repairs — and was charged $12k for supplies. 

Of course, home improvement scams have been happening for as long as we’ve had houses. Brandy Bauer, associate director at the National Council on Aging, tells BuzzFeed the petty criminals using Nextdoor are “using a 21st-century version of an old, effective tactic.”    

But Nextdoor also has other issues

A Nextdoor spokesperson told BuzzFeed its platform is more secure than many other social networks because it requires members to use their real names and verify their addresses.  

But Nextdoor, which is available in 190k U.S. neighborhoods and has received $300m in funding, has also made the news for incidents involving reported racism. 

The platform is inherently difficult to police, and numerous media outlets have reported that the social network has led to instances of racial profiling.

Not quite all good in the ’hood

What’s with the rash of private equity in dermatology practices these days?

According to a new op-ed from Joshua Sharfstein, former FDA deputy commissioner, more than 700 dermatology practices are now owned by private equity — a 12x increase from 2012 to 2017.

Per Axios, private equity providers have always gravitated toward more urgent health care — like ambulances — but skincare is wildly lucrative in its own right, and health care experts fear the PE derma-blitz could lance the growth of the industry in the long term.

Private equity: warts and all

The rise of these investments raises a lot of eyebrows over what a private equity firm’s grow-at-all-cost mentality will do to the dermatology industry  — and the crater-sized blemishes that PE takeovers often form for companies once they sell.

Many financial observers tracked the Toys ‘R’ Us saga, and, ultimately, its demise, to the 2005 takeover of private equity firms — which generated large fees for the new owners while they slashed staff and reduced employee benefits.

Then there’s the unnecessary growth 

According to Sharfstein, private equity firms generally aim for a lofty 20% return rate each year, which often involves a stop-at-nothing effort to increase revenues.

But you gotta spend money to make money — and that’s exactly what forced Toys ‘R’ Us to take on billions in debt.

But, on the other side of the pimple…

The skin care industry’s fiscal complexion has gotten even better over the years, and some dermatologists are loving the new attention.

Buyouts are always enticing to a business owner. And private equity generally includes upfront payments (usually around $1m per physician working at the practice) — and money always pocks — er, talks…

» Once you pop, you can’t stop.

Hustle Con Archives

Q: How do you get 75k fans on facebook organically?

A: You give them a koozie. Click below to discover the revelation that drove shorts-slingin’ Chubbies to ship out 30k koozies.

Watch the full explanation here →

In the market for a custom Lamborghini? Look no further than Instagram

Instagram has made no secret of its plans to increase ecommerce on its platform: Just a few months ago, the company rolled out new in-app checkout features for e-commerce companies.

After the change, makeup merchants and handbag hawkers went hogwild. But, according to The New York Times, some ’Grammers are thinking even bigger — as in custom-6-wheeled-Hummer-bigger.

Yep… apparently, celebrities don’t shop at car dealerships

Instead, they buy multimillion-dollar cars after seeing them once in an Instagram story — and savvy salespeople are waiting.

One Instagram-seller, RD Whittington, sold a $2.6m Porsche through an Instagram story — and then upsold the customer on an $800k Rolls-Royce to sweeten the deal.

Whittington, who is often paid by multimillion-dollar wire transfers, has sold cars to ASAP Rocky, Chris Brown, and Future.

But it’s not just luxury cars 

Luxury sellers are also using Instagram to sell high-priced homes and upscale jewelry.

But why are people willing to shell out such big bucks based on such little info, you ask?

The ’Gram is designed for aspiration nation: It’s engineered to inspire envy, and people with money can act on that envy Insta-ntly by purchasing something they want.

But it was Ariana Grande who summed it up best: “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.”

» Gee thanks, just bought it

Plant-based eggs are the latest food substitute to hit the drive-thru menu

Following in the footsteps of other plant-based substitutes (What is Impossible Meats for $800, Alex?), plant-based eggs have finally landed their first big fast-food deal — and it starts in Canada.

The Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons partnered with JUST Egg to test its mung bean and turmeric-based egg substitute at locations in the company’s home market. 

Oh, wait, we know JUST…

They’re the plant-based food company formerly known as Hampton Creek. Bill Gates hailed the company’s vegan mayonnaise product “the future of food” back in 2011.

Then… the dark years: Hampton Creek was overrun with controversy after scathing reports of false advertising that promoted shoddy science, as well as contamination allegations, that forced its entire board to resign.

And finally… the rebrand.

But you can’t always judge an egg by its fake shell

Since becoming JUST, the company has worked diligently to shed its reputation — like when it created an affordable porridge powder to help fight West African malnutrition. 

The market is hot for plant-based eggs: According to the Plant Based Foods Association, sales of plant-based eggs reached $6m in the year ending April 2019.

» Eggs and beans

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Even better? Verb will send readers of The Hustle a free sampler pack when you order within 48 hours — just cover shipping ($0.95). 

Snag a sampler →
If you’re looking for TV so good you’ll postpone plans for it, look no further:

shower thoughts
  1. For dogs, an elevator is probably like a teleporter. You walk in. Door closes. Door opens. You are in a new place.
  2. A belly button is the most vital element of one’s existence for the first part of their life and utterly useless for the rest.
  3. If unicorns existed, cavalry charges in war would have been even more terrifying.
  4. If you put a fridge in Antarctica, it’s technically a heater.
  5. Waterfalls are the complete opposite of fireflies.
  6. via Reddit
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