Adviser reveals how he caught suspected pension scammer

Adviser reveals how he caught suspected pension scammer

A financial adviser has managed to secure the arrest of a suspected pension scammer after someone contacted him pretending to be a client.

Neil Liversidge, managing director of West Yorkshire-based West Riding Personal Financial Solutions, said his suspicions were raised when he received an email purporting to be from a client – a retired headteacher – requesting a pension transfer “to secure a vital business deal”.

He said he was first contacted by the alleged scammer on 2 February when they asked for a valuation.

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After checking with the headteacher to verify the request was from her, Mr Liversidge said it transpired she had accidentally downloaded a virus onto her smartphone which copied her contact list and cloned her email account.

Mr Liversidge said he decided to take action.

He emailed the person who requested the pension transfer, asked for their bank accounts details and contacted Action Fraud, but was told “there was no chance of catching them”.

Mr Liversidge received an email with details of a NatWest account for the pension cash to be transferred to.

He contacted Natwest to flag his concerns, but claimed he was told it would take weeks to close down the account.

So Mr Liversidge then told the person who emailed him they had to visit his office because of anti-money laundering rules.

After a meeting at a service station he had arranged fell through because he was not able to convince the police to come and arrest the person he was meeting with, a woman came to his office on 20 February and two police officers in plain clothes were waiting.

Mr Liversidge said: “I buzzed her in and asked her to sit in my office. I asked how she knew my client. Through her brother, supposedly.

“He and my client were going into the art business. They were in New York buying stock. Except that I knew she was at home in Huddersfield.

“The cops had heard enough. In they came and made the arrest.

“We did all we could but it was an uphill struggle from start to finish,” Mr Liversidge said. “At the end of it all I have no faith in the banks or Action Fraud, and not much more in the police.”

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said: “Police arrested a 49-year-old woman in Castleford on 20 February 2016 on allegations of attempted fraud. Enquiries are ongoing.”

A spokesman for Action Fraud said it does not exist to provide an immediate police response and Mr Liversidge should have contacted his local police force.

A spokesman for NatWest said: “NatWest has a duty of confidentiality towards its customers and obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998, so we are unable to disclose information in relation to the beneficiary account or individual case details.

“However there are robust processes and procedures in place for the reporting and prevention of fraud, including full support provided to the authorities in any subsequent investigations.”