On the day that Maggie Robinson Katz learned that her father had only a few days to live, she also found out that her wealthy family couldn’t pay his hospital bills: his fortune had disappeared. Katz didn’t learn how until several years later, when she began listening to a box of cassette tapes given to her by her stepmother. The tapes record her father, Terry Robinson, speaking on the phone with a man named Jim Stuckey, a West Virginian based in Manila, about a kind of business proposition. Hidden in jungles and caves in the Philippines, Stuckey said, were huge caches of gold bullion, uncut U.S. currency, and Treasury bonds; if Robinson put up the money to pay the right people, Stuckey could get the treasures out. It seemed absurd to people around Robinson, and the Treasury Department warns of scams that sound just like this. But Robinson, a successful retired executive, fell for it hook, line, and sinker. His daughter Maggie struggles to understand why and how, talking with The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova and others.
This is part one of a two-part series.