Wife of financial advisor reveals how she only found out he had stolen nearly £15M to feed his gambling addiction when armed police arrived at front door: Spouse calls on banks and betting firms to do more to spot fraud and protect victims
- Hannah David, 51, discovered husband’s gambling addiction in 2017 when officers stormed their house
- She realised their marriage was over as he had been lying to her for 10 years
- Freddy David stole £15 million and was jailed for six years for theft and fraud
- David served half his sentence and was released in June 2021
- Mrs David is working with Labour MP Carolyn Harris calling for government gambling reform
The ex-wife of a financial advisor is calling on banks and betting firms to do more to spot fraud and protect victims after she only found out her ex-husband had stolen nearly £15 million to feed his gambling addiction when armed police arrived at their front door.
Hannah David, 51, who worked as a national director of the Conservative policy forum, said armed officers came to the house with a warrant in November 2017.
Freddy David, 53, from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, who was managing director of HBFS Wealth Management, had been using his reputation in the Jewish community to sell clients fictional opportunities. It left some of his elderly investors contemplating suicide.
He had become a gambling addict that stole from 55 clients through a Ponzi scheme and set it up alongside his business to feed his habit. He used part of an £80,000 investment from one victim to feed his gambling addiction and pay his children’s private school fees, while he also set up a restaurant called Let’s Meat and enjoyed trips to Greece and Israel.
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud which pays existing investors with funds that are collected from new investors. At Southwark Crown Court, it was revealed that David had gambled around £15 million in 10,000 online transactions.
More than £13 million of the money was stolen from investors and the addiction was so bad that David gambled more cash than he took. The total loss to victims was £6,998,942.17 but the sum David was ordered to pay back had to be ‘realistic’ and he was ordered to pay back £1,340,111.
His family never saw the money and at one point he lost £250,000 in a day. David was jailed for six years for theft and fraud. Mrs David has since filed for divorce and sold the family home as well as another joint property.
Freddy David, 53 (pictured), from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, had been using his reputation in the Jewish community to sell clients fictional opportunities
David was released in June 2021, having served half of his sentence. He had lived in a £1million detached house in Elstree, Hertfordshire.
Victim Leon Winsky said after the hearing he lost £300,000 of savings to David and considered suicide. Mr Winsky worked from the age of 14 up until retirement at 66.
‘Freddy David has destroyed my family,’ he said. ‘I worked long hours over fifty years, I thought I would go to an honest Jewish financial advisor.’
He explained that when he found out about the fraud, he was so distraught that he considered killing himself.
‘My first thought was suicide but just as I was about to jump in front of a train I decided to face him in court instead.
‘The money invested in Freddy David was eventually going to go towards a flat for my special needs son Jonathan.
‘We now only have two meals a day instead of three. For the time being we are managing to survive on my small pension.’
After his arrest David had told police: ‘I am public enemy number one in the Jewish community and understandably so, I have very very few friends left and I understand why.’
Hannah David (pictured) is calling on the government to put legislation in place to reduce gambling harms
The Ponzi scheme had helped to fund an online gambling habit which saw him blow £15.6m on betting websites between January 2005 and November 2017 – including £240,000 in a single day.
Speaking to the Times, Mrs David said: ‘At that point [in 2017], my husband and I had been married for 24 years, and while our relationship was far from perfect, I had no reason to think he was involved in criminal activity.’
She said it became clear in the weeks afterwards that her husband was orchestrating massive fraud, targeting vulnerable members of the community.
Now, Mrs David is calling on the government to put legislation in place to reduce gambling harms.
The 51-year-old, who met her husband on a student trip in 1989, was a Conservative party councillor and stood as a parliamentary candidate in Harrow West in 2015 and 2017.
When she met her husband, he was studying industrial economics at the London School of Economics and she was at Leeds University doing law.
Four years later, they married, and David was working at Barclays Bank while Mrs David was training to be a solicitor.
David took over a wealth management company in 2003, after leaving Barclays.
Mrs David was a practicing solicitor with three children at the time and said: ‘I felt financially secure and that we had a privileged life.’
What is a Ponzi scheme?
The term Ponzi scheme was coined in 1920 by a swindler called Charles Ponzi.
However, the first recorded instances of this sort of investment scam can be traced back to the mid-to-late 1800s, and were orchestrated by Adele Spitzeder in Germany and Sarah Howe in the United States.
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud which pays existing investors with funds that are collected from new investors.
The scheme organisers promise to invest your money and generate high returns with little to no risk.
But in many or most schemes the fraudsters do not invest your money and instead they use it to pay those who invested earlier.
They may also keep some for themselves. One of the most infamous Ponzi fraudsters was Bernie Madoff.
His scheme eradicated people’s fortunes- both rich and poor- and destroyed charities and foundations worldwide.
He destroyed the lives of his 37,000 victims and the scheme was $20 billion- the largest financial fraud in history.
Some of his property has been auctioned off over the years to compensate the victims of the scheme.
Fourteen years later, it became apparent that the life the pair were leading was not as clear cut as it seemed to Mrs David.
She realised her husband had been lying to her for more than a decade.
Mrs David knew their marriage was over when her husband confessed his gambling addiction to her.
She filed for divorce and sold the family home as well as another joint property.
The 51-year-old now lives in rented accommodation.
She said she feels lucky her children were old enough to fend for themselves but that none of them have fully come to terms with what happened.
She said she has always worked and was in a good position to rebuild her life so she does not feel like a victim.
But despite saying David has done more damage to others than her, she admitted the incident has taken an emotional toll on her.
She is now working with Carolyn Harris, Labour MP and chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling related harm.
Mrs David said she has realised gambling is a hidden addiction which does not present physical symptoms and can go undetected by family and friends.
Eventually, the problems it causes can no longer be concealed.
She said learning about gambling addiction over the last four years made her discover that a lot can be done to help those addicted and their families, friends and community.
The 51-year-old noted that David was able to gamble huge sums of money for more than a decade.
And his bank or online gambling companies did not intervene.
The Gambling Act of 2005 is being reviewed by the government as it has been criticised for liberalising gambling laws and allowing advertising.
Mrs David thinks banks should be monitoring large sums of money and transactions that move from accounts to gambling companies.
Ms Harris said that Mrs David’s story reveals how gambling addiction can affect people from all backgrounds and have tragic consequences.
She said more needs to be done to identify behaviour patterns which are high-risk but praised banks for the work they are doing to examine the harms of gambling and the responsibility they bear.
Mrs David is now working with Carolyn Harris, Labour MP (pictured) and chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling related harm, to campaign against the problem