Some scam stories hurt more than others. In this one, Janet lost her husband of 52 years, and days later, got a call from someone who claimed she worked with her husband’s former employer. There was a life insurance policy, the caller said, but there were unpaid premiums.
As anyone who’s lost a loved one knows, the days after a death are filled with sad duties. Those left behind struggle to put one foot in front of the other, and often fill out paperwork as instructed. Janet, still reeling from her loss, did what the caller said. She knew a ton about Janet and her husband, probably because of an obituary in a local paper. Soon, Janet was on a white-knuckle drive in the rain, heading to a casino to withdraw large sums of cash, desperately searching for lost eyeglasses. It’s a terrible story. But Janet’s daughter is kind and empathetic, and her simple acts of love actually help Janet get some of her money back. I hope you’ll listen to this week’s episode, but more than that, I hope you’ll be just as kind to people around you when someone close dies — and help them navigate a world full of sharks and charlatans.
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[00:03:08] Janet: They identified themselves as coming from the State Retirement and Benefits Office. And I remember even saying, “Wow, I was about to call you,” because my husband had passed away and I needed to know the procedure to get his benefits. I want to emphasize, this was five days after my husband’s funeral, and the only thing I could say is I was not in my right mind.
[00:03:32] Bob: The caller says there’s some paperwork to fill out.
[00:03:35] Janet: But they said they were from the State Benefits and Retirement Office, and they realized that my husband had passed away, and how could they help me? They can go through the benefits, but the one thing they want to tell me about is, and “This is very important, is that your husband had a $50,000 life insurance policy that’s payable to you.” And I did say, “Gee, I thought all of that was taken care of when he retired?” “No, this one was still outstanding, and we have talked to Metropolitan Life, and if you pay, the premiums have not been paid for the last two years, but if you pay those premiums, then you will be entitled to the entire $50,000.” “Well, how much would that be?” And that was, off the top of my head, about four or five thousand dollars, and I would need to have it in that night.
[00:04:31] Bob: That night? Janet was still figuring out all the forms and other papers that needed to be taken care of, and while this instruction is confusing, she keeps listening to the caller and tries to figure out how she could pay them immediately like that.