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was a shock but it was nice to find out about Constance. But I had more questions once I knew about her life.” After school, Constance worked as a secretary

for many high profile London firms. But in 1943, she joined the Wrens – the Women’s Royal Naval Service - and was soon organising naval operations, including the Allied invasion of France at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. After serving with the Wrens, Constance began working as a secretary at Kingsfund College in Bayswater from around 1951. The college closed in 1956, and there was a gap in Constance’s CV – until the early 1960s when she started working for John Profumo, the secretary of state for war and the man synonymous with the scandal that rocked the Government. It was not until months later that Constance’s

lost years were accounted for, when Fraser and Fraser found her war records. They revealed that she rejoined the Wrens as

a reserve in the 1950s, and was called up to play a crucial role in a Cold War operation, Exercise Sidestep, in 1959. It was a practice for the launch of the nuclear bomb. Reg said: “I just so I wish I knew Constance

during her lifetime, it would have been wonderful. She was a truly remarkable lady. “I knew very little about my father’s side of the family until this business with Constance came up and now I feel in touch with my family

again. I feel much closer to her.” Neil Fraser was involved in Constance’s case.

He said: “The research, in terms of signing up heirs, was done quite quickly. But the social history of this case was one of the most interesting that we have ever looked into. “Of course, we are a business and we have to make money, but we are also concerned about reuniting families and finding out about the social events of people’s lives and what they did and lived through. “Bringing information like that to families is invaluable and in many cases brings people back together. That’s what we all stay involved in the business for.”

Online email scam warning

COMPUTER USERS SHOULD be on the lookout for emails claiming to come from heir hunters, after it was discovered that scammers are using the disguise to grab personal information. A bone fide genealogist would very

rarely make contact via email. Most firms will make initial contact either by telephone or letter, with some even insisting on a personal visit. It is vital that you never pay any money

in advance – any reputable heir hunter will be remunerated at the same time as the heir receives their entitlement and, bearing in mind this can take many months, most are more than willing to wait. There is currently an e-mail circulating

from someone pretending to be an employee of Fraser & Fraser, Alan Riches. Alan is an employee of the company, but he did not send the email titled “Hello”. There is also a similar email from

PHOTO: Constance Harrington How to avoid being victim to a scam

• Never send any money in advance. Reputable firms are used to being paid when you receive your entitlement.

• Be wary on initial contact being made via email.

• Check credentials and telephone the number they give you. Be wary if it is an 0845 number which can be redirected anywhere.

• Ask your solicitor if they have heard of the firm contacting you.

• Only authorise payment from what you are due, and only at the same time as you receive what you are due.

Once Fraser & Fraser’s research was

completed and the solicitors were in a position to make an interim distribution, they had a new challenge to contend with. Stephen, being of no fixed address, was not the holder of a bank account and could not obtain one. The heir hunters tried to liaise with the banks on his behalf, but to no avail. He was faced with a classic chicken-and-egg

situation of not being able to open an account without an address, and not being able to rent a home without the funds to which he was entitled. In the end, the company took the highly unusual step of advancing him a £1,500 loan, in cash, to enable him to rent a home, open a bank account, and finally receive the interim distribution to which he was entitled.

His share was a quarter of the initial £400,000

distribution. Three months later, once the property had been sold, a further distribution of £400,000 took place, then £360,000 two months later, and then £76,000 seven months later. The final distribution of £2,000 took place five months later. In total, each of the four heirs was entitled to

a quarter of £1.23 million. Only a year before, Stephen was not able to spend what spare change he had on a phone call to Fraser & Fraser. With his inheritance he purchased a Welsh

castle, in need of renovation, which he is undertaking himself. He was also able to obtain a passport and visit his sister in Spain. * Stephen’s name has been changed.

PHOTO: Neil Fraser of Fraser & Fraser Farewell Magazine


Roger Marsh or Noel McHugh, with the subject: “RESPONSE NEEDED”. Both Roger and Noel are employees of Fraser & Fraser but do not make contact with heirs directly. The advice is easy - don’t offer your personal information in response to unsolicited emails, and if you do find you have accidentally shared information with the scammers be careful not to pay them any money. If you believe you are being defrauded, you would be wise to contact the police. And, if you believe you could be the beneficiary of the assets of a deceased person who didn’t make a will, or died with no known heirs, then visit the UK government’s link to the Bona Vacantia website. Alternatively, you can contact Fraser &

Fraser on 020 7832 1430, or email legal@

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