W. Donald Stutsman

Don heard about our new company, San Francisco Life, just a year or so after we "opened our doors" in 1964. We attracted some top producers from other life insurance companies because we had a Stock Option Plan and we had the most competitive products on the street. With this unique "deal" our agents were considered "partners."

Don made a great first impression. He was about 5 ft. 8 inches, dressed very well, was nice looking and was very bright. After all, he had been a Navy jet pilot. He had a lovely wife, Connie, two kids and a nice home down the Peninsula. But his one flaw? He was the biggest bull shitter ever created! Don just couldn't resist letting everyone know that he was the "first" or "best" on any subject you could bring up.

He had a new Jag, outfitted with a telephone ! (Talk about "ahead of his times!) He had an airplane! His M.O. was to fly into some town and have, let's say a rancher, meet him at the airport for Don's "recommendations." He did sell some big cases.

Karl Bach, the founder of SF Life was the most successful life salesman in the country. To be near Karl and to "learn" how Karl did it attracted W. Donald and two other agents who moved into our offices. All were former Navy jet pilots. SF Life was going great guns and it appeared that the stock options would someday be worth a "fortune."

Evidently, Don somehow got "into" Karl for around $100,000. Maybe he owed Karl for rent or more likely, Karl probably loaned him some money. Karl took out a life insurance policy on W. Donald for the amount Don owed him.

Skipping over several ears, Don moves out of our space and moves into very fancy digs in the Russ Building, a very impressive office.

About a year or so later, Don takes it on the Arthur Duffy!!! (That’s Australian slang for skipped town!!!) Just like that. Gone!!! Leaving his wife and kids and some very un-happy clients.

Turns out that Don has been working a "scam," and this is how he did it. He had the life insurance companies send him all the communications for his clients, including premium notices. When he received the premium notice he then would bill the policyholder with instructions to make the check payable to himself. It's hard to believe that he actually had people go along with this.

This is how the scam was discovered. Cliff, an acquaintance of mine, was audited by the IRS. Cliff was required to have a life insurance policy with his ex-wife as beneficiary as part of the divorce settlement. This made the premium "deductible." The slight problem? The policy was issued by the company, but never activated. W. Donald was billing Cliff for this "phantom" policy every month while taking the "payments" and putting them in his own pocket.

Jump ahead seven years. Karl has a terminal condition. He comes to the office every day and takes care of business as if he was going to live forever. One day, he has a brainstorm. He realizes that after seven years missing, one is assumed dead. W. Donald disappeared just about seven years ago!!

Karl contacts the Company and files a claim. The Company agrees to pay. But just before the settlement date, their sleuths find W. Donald and call the deal off.

W. Donald Stutsman was found teaching a Sales Course for Dale Carnegie in Seattle.