As 74-year-old Josif Gabor would later tell it, he was walking to the bank when a woman he had met briefly before offered to drive him and translate some banking documents into his native Hungarian.

The woman, 72-year-old Olga Rutterschmidt, is now accused with a friend in a macabre scheme to befriend vulnerable men, insure their lives for millions of dollars and then cash in after they died in mysterious back-alley hit-and-runs.

The women have been charged with insurance fraud in two cases involving transient men - and police are investigating whether they played a role in those two deaths and duped a half-dozen other men who are still alive.

In an interview translated by his neighbor, Gabor said he has been afraid to leave his apartment since last Friday, when Rutterschmidt and 75-year-old Helen Golay were arrested and a police detective came to his door.

The two women already face federal charges that they posed as relatives and even fiancees to buy life insurance and collect $2.2 million in payouts from 19 policies covering the two hit-and-run victims - Paul Vados, killed in 1999, and Kenneth McDavid, whose body was found last June.

Police did not link the two cases until last fall, when the detective investigating Vados' death overheard a colleague describing a similarly improbable scenario.

Police have since made some troubling connections, including that Golay and Rutterschmidt had become eligible for the life insurance money shortly before the two men were killed.

Tipped off by investigators about potential fraud, several insurance companies refused to make payments to Rutterschmidt and Golay. The women fought back this spring, demanding payment in a flurry of lawsuits.

Rutterschmidt and Golay remain jailed without bail. Their lawyers did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday and Thursday. Golay's daughter, Kecia Golay, has said her mother did nothing wrong.

A quiet man who feels his way around his sunny apartment with his hands, Gabor said he was unwittingly drawn in when he happened across Rutterschmidt on that cool day last November. They had been introduced in 1988 by a mutual friend who worked at a swap meet, and would occasionally exchange greetings but were not close friends, Gabor said.

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