Investigation finds ‘fraudster families’ running million pound pension scams

Crime groups led by “fraudster families” are running pension scams potentially worth millions of pounds, according to The Pensions Regulator.

The multi-agency Project Bloom group are currently conducting a number of criminal investigations into the gangs, often led by married couples, leading to the suspension of a number of individuals involved.

According to the group, run by TPR, the Financial Conduct Authority and the DWP among others, the families hire rouge financial experts including accountants, advisers and trustees to run the scams. Victims lost an average of £91,000 each in 2017.

Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, Guy Opperman, 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.”

Last month, a ban on pensions cold calling also come into force, making it illegal for any member of the public to receive unsolicited calls about their pension.

TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, 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.”

Furthermore, the Pensions Scam Industry Group said that pension providers are reporting "more suspicious transfer requests than ever before".

Single Financial Guidance Body head of pensions guidance, Charlotte Jackson, said that prevention is the best form of defence against scams.

“While our research says eight scam calls take place every second, the good news for consumers is that the pensions cold-calling ban introduced last month means no legitimate provider will contact you in this way.”

Despite this, Action Fraud warned that scammers are using increasingly “sophisticated tactics”, to persuade people to invest their savings.

“Reject any unsolicited calls, emails or knocks on your door. Check the FCA register for regulated companies, or the warning list. If you’re thinking about an opportunity, seek independent financial advice from an FCA regulated firm,” Jackson added.

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