UK: Tens of Millions Lost to Pension Scams

Published: 26 August 2020

Scam AlertThe U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority has launched a campaign to reduce scams that have targeted pensions. (Photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay, License)

By Eli Moskowitz

Citizens collecting pensions in the United Kingdom have lost at least 31 million pounds (US$40.75 million) to scammers since 2017, and this figure likely only scratches the surface given that it includes only reported cases, the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator said in a press release on Tuesday. 

With the average victims being men in their 50s, the regulators launched an initiative with Clive Tyldesley, a famous soccer commentator, in order to raise awareness on the issue. 

“Scammers are very good at breaking down your defences and putting you under pressure with various deadlines. But your pension isn’t a football transfer – there are no deadlines!” Tyldesley said in the press release.

"Your favourite team wouldn't buy a new striker just because his agent says he's good,” he explained. “They’d ask around, check out his stats, do some research – just like you should when handling your pension plans. Before you fall foul to savvy scammers, remember to take your time, seek advice, and speak to an FCA authorised adviser.”  

The pandemic appears to have made individuals increasingly vulnerable to pensions scams, as indicated by the U.K.’s pension regulator.

“There are a whole range of issues that pension trustees, employers and their advisers are facing as a result of COVID-19,” the authority warned on its website.  

“During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers. Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved,” said Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA.

According to its press release, the scams that were reported ranged anywhere between 1,000 pounds ($1,317) to 500,000 ($659,095).