WARREN, MI–Gordon Krumrie, a 43-year-old executive with Great Lakes Mutual, admitted Tuesday that he faked his own life to collect a substantial insurance payoff.
"It was simple," said Krumrie, who came clean after collecting more than $300,000 over a 25-year period. "Just fool the right people, make my life look believable, and every month, Great Lakes would cut me a check for $5,000."
"Plus bonuses," he added. "If they only knew."
Krumrie began laying the groundwork for his false identity at an early age. In high school, he fabricated an interest in community and local business affairs, getting elected student-council treasurer and president of his school's chapter of Future Business Leaders of America.
"It was dirty work, but I had to establish a credible cover story early," Krumrie said. "It's the first thing those insurance investigators check when they suspect a wrongful life has been committed."
Krumrie's deception continued at Western Michigan University, where he earned an economics degree, deceiving professors into thinking he had a genuine interest in a career in finance. All the while, he made the necessary behind-the-scenes connections.
"I spent four years playing along with those Sigma Chi bastards," Krumrie said. "But they left me no choice. Some of them had highly placed fathers in key firms."
Upon being hired by Great Lakes Mutual in 1982, Krumrie was careful to behave like a typical sycophantic company man, running for coffee, calling superiors by their initials, and learning important insurance lingo like "great" and "happy to do it for you, boss."
"I had to make my life seem real while establishing a paper trail," Krumrie said. "That way, if the company became suspicious enough to investigate, they'd find hundreds of calls to the head office on my telephone records and my fingerprints all over countless claimant response forms. There's no way they could have proven that my existence was a hollow sham."
Outside the office, Krumrie was careful to cover his tracks, marrying a nice, conservative woman he met at a church mixer, buying a home in the suburbs, and devoting hours of his spare time to lawn care and maintenance.
"I knew I could never let up," Krumrie said. "The tiniest slip, like forgetting to golf with the fellas on Saturdays or letting my Optimist Club membership lapse, would look suspicious. You can't give the insurance company any reason to suspect that your life is a fraud."
Over time, however, Krumrie became worn down by his hoax of an existence.
"Just a few more years, and I would have been be ready to end it all and cash in on that huge 401K," Krumrie said. "If I hadn't buckled under the strain, I would've run off to some tropical island beach with Janice from Accounting, and no one would have ever found me."
"All that insurance money," continued Krumrie, shaking his head. "But I just couldn't keep it up. I couldn't stand the lies. Faking your own life is harder than it looks."