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In sickness and in fraud
Feb 20, 2020
Season 2 | Episode 4

In sickness and in fraud

Two Honolulu newlyweds got back from their honeymoon to find he'd been scammed out of a small fortune, and now she was on the hook, too.

Michele Harris met her future husband, Rob Harris, while applying for building permits. Both of them worked in construction, and, over the years, they got to know each other on job sites and after work. They got married after three months of dating, but the honeymoon period ended Rob’s first day back at work.

“The office was empty,” he said. “No furniture. No phones. No files.”

Rob’s business partner had disappeared with tens of thousands of dollars, with even more in unpaid payroll taxes. Even worse, he’d taken $40,000 of Michele’s company’s money — the couple had started to work together on a construction project, and now Michele was on the hook for everything her new husband’s partner had taken, too.

This week, we’re looking at what we take on when we take a spouse and what happens when “for richer or for poorer” is very literal. Because as quick as Rob and Michele’s romance was, it took them decades to get out of the $300,000 hole their marriage started in. To get back on their feet, Michele even had to do a little scamming of her own.

“There was also an understanding that the only way we were going to get ourselves out of this mess was working together,” Michele said.

Mitchelle and Rob Harris after a recent interview in Portland, where they live now.
Rob and Michele Harris today. (Mitchell Hartman/Marketplace)

By the way, the Harrises listen to the show and wrote in with their story. If you have something uncomfortable about money you want to tell us about, leave us a note in the form below.

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Correction (Feb. 20, 2020): A previous version of this story misspelled Michele Harris’ name. The text has been corrected.

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The team

Megan Detrie Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Senior Producer
Phoebe Unterman Producer
Camila Kerwin Producer

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