My son was telling me about a TV programme he saw on satellite TV about Barbara Perry’s charming, fascinating, and charismatic late husband John Perry who presented himself as a retired US Navy rear admiral and the descendent of two infamous admirals named Perry/Peary. But the truth was that he was a con man wanted by the FBI for impersonating a US Navy officer.
This tale reminded me of a client many years ago that by a strange coincidence represented himself to his wife and me as a naval officer.
Here is the story, as the phrase goes, this is based on actual events but the names, in this case, have been withheld.
My clients, in their mid forties, arrived in my office to arrange some life cover for a mortgage they had arranged themselves. They were a married couple, the wife was an office administrator and the husband was an officer in the Royal Navy.
The husband had some health problems that caused some difficulty, I remember now that he declared on the proposal form that he had undergone a colostomy some two years before. There was a strange odour about the man and this clearly clarified why.
The policy was eventually underwritten, special terms applied, and it went into force. A perfectly straightforward transaction.
Around eighteen months later I had a letter from the life company letting me know that premiums were ‘in arrears’ and the direct debit had been cancelled.
As the clients lived nearby my office, and I had got to know them quite well by then, I called by the house; a clearly very distressed wife opened the door. I explained the reason for my visit and was asked inside to discuss the problem that caused the direct debit cancellation.
The husband had been arrested on return from a holiday at Cardiff Airport with his wife and two children. But not the wife I was talking to.
The reason for his arrest was that his employer, a major IT company in the Thames Valley, had found out that he had, in his role as a ‘Procurement Manager’ been doing some extra curricular procuring for himself.
So what was going on?
Well, the clearly unsuspecting victim of a bigamist explained.
Her husband went away for months at a time, he left home dressed in full naval uniform and arrived back in the same attire. She understood that his naval role took him away on lengthy voyages and when he was home it was for a month or so at a time and so she thought this quite normal.
But the reality was he lived a life of two identities, one with his first wife, who thought his overseas business trips for a month at a time were quite normal, and the other as a naval officer with his second wife living in marital bliss in the Thames Valley.
The outcome of this sorry tale was that wife number one divorced him, he went to prison for theft and bigamy. Wife number two had the house taken away to pay the theft debt, as that is where the procurement embezzlement funds went.
And yes you guessed it, the life cover lapsed and I had a claw back of commission. I am sure many advisers have had some strange but true client experiences too, we would love to hear them.