Maggie Robinson Katz grew up flying first class and taking etiquette classes, but when her father died, the family was flat broke and about to lose the house.
Katz’s inheritance, it turned out, was nothing more than a suitcase crammed with old papers from her dad’s office and some 150 audio tapes of phone calls that took place almost every night for eight years between her father and an American named Jim. Most of their conversations concerned a complex business deal that Jim had brought her dad into—a deal that, in hindsight, was full of red flags, an audio Nigerian prince scam of sorts. Jim was connected to the Marcos family, allegedly acquainted with John McCain, and apparently a get-rich-scheme involving boxes of U.S. currency, treasure hidden in caves, and the hopes of a promised massive return. Over the years, Katz’s dad poured hundreds of thousands dollars into the scheme with nothing to show for it.
That strange legacy helped Katz piece together what happened, and who her father really was. The story will be told in a mini-documentary called “The Long Distance Con,” to be aired on The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast and radio show.
“For this series, Maggie Robinson Katz came to us with a suitcase of old cassette tapes,” said Emily Botein, VP of On-Demand Content at WNYC Studios. “We dove right in. Hearing about Maggie’s dad, the man on the other end of the phone line, and treasure that may or may not have existed on the other side of the globe, will make any listener think about their own family secrets.”
The series debuts September 28, and it just might be your new podcast obsession.