The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has pledged to secure a criminal conviction for scammers that target savers’ pension funds, while committing to recover stolen assets from overseas.
In a blog post, published on Friday (August 9), Charles Counsell, chief executive officer at TPR, said the regulator will not stand for pension scammers and reiterated its commitment to pursue these rogues.
Mr Counsell said: “Our aim is to secure a conviction, confiscate the criminals’ assets and give them back to pension scheme members. It doesn’t matter where the criminals’ assets are – we will go after them.
“We are 100 per cent committed to taking firm action to hit scammers where it hurts – in their pockets.”
Earlier this year the TPR secured its first custodial sentence against a pension scheme trustee who stole more than £280,000 from the scheme.
The TPR said more sentences of this kind were expected in the future.
Mr Counsell also said that although the blame should not be on the victims of these scams, more people needed to be educated so they know how to spot a fraudster.
He said: “It’s simply not good enough to point the finger at savers who are lulled into ‘too good to be true’ deals and say you should have been more careful. That is not the only solution.
“However, I am clear that the biggest weapon we have in this battle is the power of awareness and vigilance. We need to empower more people to protect themselves.”
Although regulation and advice could help deter scammers, individuals could stop them from the offset by not engaging when they first make contact, said Mr Counsell.
He said: “Savers targeted by scammers are their own best defence. They can stop scammers dead in their tracks by simply hanging up the phone, deleting an email or shutting the front door when a few simple warning signs flash up.”
Mr Counsell also urged pension savers to make themselves aware of the warning signs to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.
He added: “Our message to savers is simple. Scammers are out there and they know where to look, so get to know the danger signs. Walk away if you are unsure and visit the ScamSmart website for top tips and guidance.
“Together we can consign these criminals to history and protect the retirement pots that people are working so hard to build and enjoy.”
Last week (August 5), the Work and Pensions select committee told the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to “widely publicise” its list of unauthorised firms and to review the resources it dedicates to pension scams.
The MPs recommended that the regulator reviews “whether it dedicates sufficient resource to combat active pension scams, prevent new pension scams and protect individuals”.
TPR and the FCA also warned that more than 5m pension savers (42 per cent) were likely to fall for at least one of six tactics used by pension scammers, with the financially savvy just as likely to be fooled.