Family crime groups wreaking havoc with pension scams

Criminal investigations involving regulators, government agencies and police forces are ongoing

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has warned that organised crime groups led by married couples or families are running pension scams across the UK worth millions of pounds.

The Project Bloom group, which was set up to tackle pension scams, has gathered evidence which indicates that a number of “fraudster families” are targeting pension holders.

Criminal investigations involving regulators, government agencies and police forces are currently ongoing into a number of these gangs.

In addition, several individuals linked to the scams have been suspended or banned from being trustees, and companies used for scams have been shut down.

Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “Trustees and administrators play a key role in preventing members from falling victim to scams by identifying suspicious requests early.

“The better they are at spotting the signs of a scam, the quicker members can be warned and we can investigate.

“Working together we can target those trying to plunder people’s pension pots and bring them to justice.”

Rogue experts

In some cases, the fraudster families have hired rogue financial experts with specialist pension knowledge; including accountants, advisers and trustees, to run the “large-scale” scams for them.

TRP said that “without these professional enablers, the frauds would not be successful”.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: “Scammers who siphon off savings built up over decades are the lowest of the low.

“When you’ve worked hard and done the right thing, you don’t expect a con artist to rob you of the future you deserve.

“We’re determined to put a stop to the misery these callous crooks inflict, which is why we’re supporting the work being done to stamp out pension theft.”

Portfolio Adviser’s sister publication International Adviser reported that victims of pension scams lost an average of £91,000 ($117,000, €104,000) each to fraudsters in 2017.

The UK government’s ban on pension cold calling came into force in January. Firms that break the rules could face penalties of up to £500,000.

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