Armed with basic knowledge of an Excel sheet and some dribbles of wisdom after a basic capital markets course, when I opened a unit-linked insurance plan (Ulip) brochure five years ago and tried to do the math, I fell off my chair. The sheet showed me a product that was so inherently unfair and loaded against the investor that I thought I had mis-understood it. But long hours spent decoding various products (with lots of work put in by a trainee who is now India’s ace insurance reporter and works in Mint) told me that the conclusion was right: The Ulip product was a trap. What do you call a product that allows the entire first-year investment to be used as cost? What do you call a product that swallows the entire first- and second-year investment if you dare stop funding the product? What do you call a product that pushes forward a lifetime of costs in the first two years and then pushes you to exit—leaving your money behind? All those who were mis-sold the Ulip product in the last few years are now understanding the extent of the fraud.