Pensions Regulator  

Regulator investigates £55m pension scams

Regulator investigates £55m pension scams

The Pensions Regulator is carrying out seven criminal investigations into potential pension scams, its chief executive has said.

In a letter sent to the Work and Pensions select committee on July 12, Charles Counsell said the cases covered 52 schemes and there were 38 suspects who the watchdog is treating as targets.

Indicative losses to savers' pensions could amount to as much as £55m, he added.

He said: "They cover a range of complexities and possible outcomes - from fraud and money laundering charges to employer related investments."

Mr Counsell’s letter followed his hearing before the committee on June 26 were he said TPR had two watchlists of defined benefit schemes its officials were most worried about.

On pension scams, he noted the regulator had been involved in tackling scams for a number of years by chairing the cross-government agency Project Bloom since 2016.

He also said TPR worked closely with partner agencies, in particular the Financial Conduct Authority, "so that the appropriate regulator or law enforcement agency can take action depending upon the nature of the scam."

Mr Counsell also mentioned the relaunch in August of the ScamSmart campaign with the FCA, which targeted pension holders aged 45 to 65, the group identified by the regulators most at risk of pension scams, and featured television adverts highlighting the most common tactics adopted by fraudsters.

According to data published by the FCA in January, victims of pension scams lost an average of £91,000 each to fraudsters in 2017.

On Thursday (July 18) Margaret Snowdon, chairwoman of the Pension Scams Industry Group, warned that pension scammers were taking advantage of Brexit uncertainty.

This was after last month the industry group updated its voluntary code of practice to include regulatory changes and emerging scams which have impacted the industry over the past year.

maria.espadinha@ft.com