Making A Killing

Viaticals let sick people sell their life insurance. But investing in death may not always be the best bet

Michael Lee Davis is probably the last guy from whom you'd want to buy life insurance. True, he does have some experience in the field. Davis, a.k.a. Walter Waldhauser Jr., spent most of the 1980s in prison for hiring a hit man to wipe out a friend's family in order to get a share of their life-insurance proceeds. But after being released on parole, Davis found a new line of insurance work: a largely unregulated offshoot of the business called viaticals.

A viatical is not another impotence wonder drug. Rather, a viatical (from the Latin viaticum, a payment given to Roman...

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