After a lengthy and very weird legal battle, the case of Katrina Fincham, the golf farmer turned gold buyer turned victim, versus insurance company AAMI, has finally come to an end following an undisclosed settlement.
It all began in 2008 when Fincham, an Australian World of Warcraft player and full-time nurse, earned $75,000 gold farming and then had it printed into actual gold bars. In quick succession she then had her house burgled, her gold stolen, and then got screwed over by both her insurance company and her boyfriend. You can’t make this stuff up.
According to a report from Player Attack, Fincham spent hours every day collecting gold and items in World of Warcarft, EVE Online, and other games, which she then would sell to other players for real money. Gold farming is a fairly common practice these days, and Fincham has been making money from it since she began playing Ultima Online, which was released in 1997.
The practice has become so popular in Australia that the government recognized it as legitimate professions, complete with taxable income, and each night Fincham could earn as much as $700. Her business was doing so well that she created a real world business to handle the transactions, and she preferred to be paid in cash.
After earning a small fortune, Fincham decided to trade her cash for gold bars. Beyond her personal affinity for gold stemming from her gaming, it was (and still is) considered a wise investment. In 2008, with the world economy collapsing, many investors were predicting that gold prices would skyrocket – and they did. On January 2, 2008, gold prices in the U.S. were at $846.75 per ounce. Today, gold sells for $1,360, and in 2011 it topped $1,800.
“There were things in the news that gold was a good investment and, in a couple of the games, gold was the actual currency – so gold seemed like a good idea at the time,” she said.
Rather than using gold bars as coasters to impress friends and remind them that she was awesome, Fincham insured her treasure and kept the bars locked away in a safe in her house. After returning from a roadtrip with her boyfriend (boyfriend at the time … you’ll understand why in a moment), she discovered that her house had been robbed three separate times, and the wall safe itself was among the items stolen.
But for as bad a situation as that might be, it quickly got much, much worse.
Fincham’s insurance company, AAMI, denied the claim and accused Fincham of engineering the robbery. It also claimed that Fincham specifically converted her money into gold so it could be stolen.
The police investigated the incident, and while they did clear Fincham of any wrongdoing, it turned out her then-boyfriend was the one that tipped the criminals off. Perhaps even more insultingly, he gave up the $75,000 in gold for a mere $500.
Despite the police investigation, AAMI refused to budge. Fincham was eventually forced to file a lawsuit against the company, and in response AAMI filed one against her, accusing Fincham of insurance fraud. And it gets worse.
The insurance company sent investigators down the digital rabbit hole to scrutinize and investigate her former cash-for-digital-gold customers. In the process, AAMI ruined her business. And there’s more: to pay for the cost of the legal battle, Fincham was forced to sell her house.
Mercifully, nearly five years later, the case has come to a close. According to Australian site Adelaidenow, the two parties have agreed to a settlement. The terms of the settlement are being kept confidential, but both claims have been dropped.
Hopefully part of the settlement is that AAMI is forced to pay her in gold coins.
(Image credit goes to Ehab’s Insight)