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Indexed Annuities Obscure Fees as Sellers Earn Trip to Disney

When Helen Siswein, a retired teacher, heard about an investment that might earn 8 percent a year and never lose money, she was sold.

“I thought, ‘Boy, if the market surges I could make a lot,’” said Siswein, 82. She put about $1 million into four different annuities linked to stock-market indexes in July 2003 on the advice of an insurance agent who came to her former home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, after her husband died.