Less than a third of pension fraud reports sent to police

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Less than a third of pension fraud reports sent to police
Pexels/Sora Shimazaki

Just under a third (29 per cent) of pension fraud reports are sent for police investigation on average, according to a freedom of information request by Quilter.

The figures found that over the past eight years less than a third (1,173) of the nearly 4,006 pension fraud reports submitted to Action Fraud were disseminated to local police forces for investigation by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which sits alongside Action Fraud.

This comes following the government’s new fraud strategy, announced yesterday, which includes introducing a suite of new measures such as a new National Fraud Squad led by the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police and investing £30mn in a reporting centre.

Yesterday the government also announced an outright ban on all financial cold-calling in a bid to tackle fraud. 

In some years the number of pension fraud reports to Action Fraud that were sent to the police for investigation was as low as 6 per cent. 

But in 2020 when the pandemic hit it rose to 66 per cent. 

Quilter said it was unclear how many of these ended up with a conviction.

According to Action Fraud some losses can run into the millions but the average loss to each victim is around £75,000. 

But finding an accurate average can prove difficult as many victims are unaware they have fallen victim to a fraud. 

Year

Pension fraud reports received by Action Fraud

Pension fraud reports disseminated to the police and other agencies

Percentage of reports disseminated

2015

1353

208

15%

2016

547

97

18%

2017

409

62

15%

2018

346

38

11%

2019

416

25

6%

2020

668

440

66%

2021

507

174

34%

2022

420

129

30%

Pension scams are extremely complex, require considerable police resources to investigate, and in many cases are only discovered years after the event. 

Quilter said it can often take years of information gathering and investigatory time before the police get to the point of prosecution.

This means that Action Fraud and the investigatory agencies are forced to prioritise the cases they believe can lead to a successful criminal justice outcome. 

For the vast majority of pension scam cases, the chances of reaching this stage are slim.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: “Unfortunately, especially during economically difficult times, scammers thrive as hard-working people get their heads turned by too good to be true deals. 

“These figures show that over the past few years, as finances have been stretched, many more scams have had to be passed on to local forces for investigation. This shows why it is important that the government's new strategy gets a grip on fraud.”

Greer added: "Sadly, because pensions are for the long term it can be years before victims realise they have been scammed and their money has gone. 

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