BLOG: Fighting the beast

Written by Laura Blows

Pension scams are an ever-changing, many-headed beast. As the industry is seemingly constantly reforming to meet the needs of retirement savers, so too are the scam artists, finding new and inventive ways to defraud pension scheme providers or retirees themselves of their funds.

Fighting this monster takes a collective and constant approach from all parties. Already we have seen the National Crime Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, The Pensions Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue & Customs, Serious Fraud Office and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau come together for ‘Project Bloom’, warning savers to be vigilant of the threat that scammers pose to their pensions.

This is a worthy effort to combat a problem that is unlikely to ever be truly eradicated. But what do we do when it’s the powers-that-be themselves that commit the crime?

The Mirror has recently reported that a police inspector lied about the severity of her injuries and her recovery after a car crash, in order to retire early on medical grounds and receive an enhanced pension.

The police inspector told doctors and colleagues at Nottinghamshire Police that she could not drive for more than 15 minutes following injuries sustained in a crash in 2011. However, a misconduct hearing was shown covert footage of her rowing and cycling while on a family holiday. She was then dismissed from the force for gross misconduct.

So, now we can’t rely on everyone fighting crimes such as pension scams not to succumb to temptation themselves. This surely highlights the difficulty the industry faces in warning people not to – unwittingly or otherwise – listen to the dark creature inside them convincing them that the ‘tax loophole’ to access their pension pot early is ‘legal’ or that the ‘too good to be true’ investment is actually ‘true’.

But, to say one thing for the monsters externally preying on retirement funds and internally making ‘good’ people do ‘bad’ things – they certainly appreciate the value of a good pension….

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