Pension scammers are much more likely to catch COVID-19 than be prosecuted
Martin Lewis, founder of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, was quoted in a BBC News article, saying: “The UK is facing an epidemic of scam adverts. Our advertising rules were set up to police soap manufacturers making false cleanliness claims, not to tackle sophisticated, psychologically adept, digital organised crime based around the world.
This has left many scammers untraced, un-investigated, and unpunished. Many get away with these crimes with impunity.”
Ministry of Justice figures obtained by Quilter show that fraud convictions have fallen by an average of 10% year-on-year since 2011, with just one in 700 incidents of fraud leading to a conviction in 2019. In 2019, there were more than 3.7 million incidents of fraud in England and Wales, but only one in five of these cases (743,380) were reported to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). Of these, just 5,234 convictions were secured under the Fraud Act 2006, amounting to one in 142 reported and one in 700 incidents overall.
The Pensions Regulator, whilst recognising that not every pension scam can be prevented, has urged trustees, providers and administrators of pension schemes to do more to protect scheme members and to follow the principles of the Pension Scams Industry Group Code of Good Practice. This is an initiative that Buck supports, but, in particular, it requires scams to be reported to the appropriate authority.
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, you should report fraud to Action Fraud. In Scotland, fraud should be reported to Police Scotland or Advice Direct Scotland. The NFIB receives all of Action Fraud’s reports.
We wait to see whether the prosecutors will now play their part following The Pensions Regulator’s initiative. Whilst the police will tell you that you can’t prosecute everyone involved in fraud, one in 700 fraud cases (one in 142 reported cases) leading to a conviction is a pretty poor strike rate.
Government figures for the week ending 17 July 2021 estimate 1 in 75 people in the UK have COVID-19. If you are a pension scammer you are about ten times more likely to catch COVID than being caught by the police!
Gary Crockford – Head of Knowledge Resource Centre, Buck