473
August 24, 2012

Loopholes

Only the clever need apply. This week, stories of people acting on a technicality in the face of some of life's toughest regulators: financial regulators, parents and God.

Prologue

Ira talks with UC Davis Professor Kathy Stuart about a macabre trend that dates back to 17th and 18th century Europe. It seems that in order to avoid eternal damnation for the sin of committing suicide, a number of people began committing murder for the express purpose of turning themselves in, confessing their sins to a priest in order to be blessed and forgiven before being executed. (9 minutes)

Death Takes a Policy

An estate attorney in Rhode Island discovers the investor's Holy Grail: a financial scheme that guarantees only reward and no risk. All upside with no downside. The only catch? You have to die in order to get the money. But there's a loophole! Alex Blumberg from Planet Money and Jake Bernstein from ProPublica tell the story of how the attorney, Joseph Caramadre, figured out how to get someone else to die instead.

For a more detailed version of this story plus graphics, documents, video excerpts of the depositions, and a way for you to weigh in on whether it's acceptable to profit from the death of strangers, visit ProPublica's website.

Song:

“Sign It on the Dotted Line” by Caravan
Serial Season Three is here. Listen Now