Pensions 

Friends Life and Virgin Money pension scammers jailed

Friends Life and Virgin Money pension scammers jailed

Two men have been jailed following an elaborate pensions scam in Dorset, the local police said on Friday (20 April).

Anthony Locke, 33 years old, was found guilty of 23 counts of fraud by false representation and three counts of money laundering.

Ray King, 54 years old, was found guilty of 14 counts of fraud by false representation.

Locke was sentenced to five years in prison and King handed a three-year jail term.

The sentencing followed a six-week trial at Southwark Crown Court in London. 

A timetable was set out for Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings in relation to the recovery of funds from the defendants.

The scam is known as 'pension liberation' and the offences occurred between September 2013 and April 2014.

Mr Locke set up a website called Successful Pensions to attract people looking to liberate their pension funds, jurors were told during the trial.

With the help of Mr King he is said to have offered applicants an upfront payment equivalent to half of their pot, with the remainder invested in another of their sham eco-friendly firms.

The Dorset pair allegedly created an ‘elaborate façade’ comprising of hundreds of documents to convince genuine companies, including Friends Life and Virgin Money, that they were operating an occupational pension scheme.

Rather than invest the balance, the remaining funds were filtered through offshore accounts along with others held by Locke’s mother and ex-partner, it is claimed.

The money was then spent on supercars, including an Aston Martin Vantage, Porsche 911 and Mercedes B180, along with gambling binges and luxury holidays, jurors heard.

According to investigating officer Paul Sullivan, of Dorset Police, between September 2013 and April 2014 Mr Locke “obtained almost £1m from various pension companies, which represented the ‘pension pots’ of the victims in this case”.

He said: “[Mr] Locke then credited approximately half these funds to the victims who had joined his non-existent occupational pension scheme, telling them that the other half would be invested.

However, there was no investment and by far the lion’s share of these funds was retained by [Mr] Locke who spent the money on expensive cars and general living expenses.

"Not only have the victims lost half their pensions but now may face financial penalties from HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) who will want to recover the lost tax revenue.

"The sentences imposed today send out a clear message to fraudsters who perpetrate these types of offences.”

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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