Criminal: Episode 51: Money Tree
October 24, 2016 12:39 PM - Subscribe

When Axton Betz-Hamilton was 11 years old, her parents' identities were stolen. At that time, in the early 90s, consumer protection services for identity theft victims were basically non-existent. So the family dealt with the consequences as best they could. But then when Axton got to college, she realized that her identity had been stolen as well. Her credit score was in the lowest 2%.  As she was working to restore her credit, she inadvertently discovered who had stolen the family's identity. It would change everything forever.  
posted by bq (7 comments total)
This episode was just heart breaking in many ways, God is Axton strong. I'm not 100% convinced by the follow-up episode (feels a bit easy to just go Psychopaths!) but wow, really sad and really well told.
posted by litleozy at 4:19 AM on October 25, 2016

I can't imagine discovering hints if this secret life and having to eventually acknowledge that I just might never know what was going on. That would be the hardest part for me.
posted by bq at 8:48 AM on October 25, 2016

Ugh. This was so sad. I can't imagine finding out something so devastating. And of *course* your parents have all your information!

My dad just called me today to ask for my social and some other info to put me down as his retirement beneficiary. I obviously don't suspect my dad of identify theft (and I've seen my credit report recently, anyways), but it would be *so* easy for him to use this information against me.
posted by radioamy at 2:30 PM on October 25, 2016

I've actually thought about this a lot, because when I was in high school I dated a guy whose sister perpetrated a really major theft against their parents. And ever since then, I've been weirded out by security questions that a person's parents, siblings or children would clearly know the answer to, because it has occurred to me that those people are pretty likely to be the ones to steal one's identity. We like to think the bad guys are strangers, but sometimes they're not.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:56 PM on October 25, 2016

I wondered a bit about the psychopath diagnosis myself. Obviously I don't know this woman's mother. But since the core bit of the diagnosis is an essential lack of empathy, that just didn't quite seem to square with her having kept up a marriage and a loving relationship with her daughter for nearly 40 years. I mean, something was obviously deeply wrong, no question.
posted by Diablevert at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2016

This reminded me a little bit about a This American Life episode. A woman kept having issues with her credit card being compromised. Like, way more often than normal. Turns out it was her boyfriend!
posted by radioamy at 9:16 AM on October 26, 2016

I assumed that Axton had a lot of reasons to think her mother was a psychopath -- reasons that were not shared on the podcast, because it seemed like a huge jump.

But that was one of the most effective twists I have heard in ages.
posted by jeather at 2:21 PM on October 30, 2016

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