£1.8m lost to pension fraud so far in 2021

Action Fraud has warned savers to remain vigilant and protect their pensions, as figures from the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime revealed £1.8m has already been lost to pension fraud this year.

The data did show a steady fall in pension scam reports from 1,788 in 2014 to 358 in 2020 – a reduction of almost 80%.

However, there has been an increase in reporting so far this year, with 107 reports of pension fraud received in the first three months of 2021. This is an increase of almost 45% when compared to the same period in 2020.

Action Fraud has launched a new national awareness campaign this week to remind the public about the importance of carrying out research before making changes to any pension arrangements.

“Criminals are malicious and unapologetic when it comes to committing pension fraud,” head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, commented. “They are motivated by their own financial gain and lack any kind of empathy for their victims, who can often lose their whole life savings to these scams.

“We know pension fraud can have a devastating impact, both financially and emotionally, but any one of us can fall victim to a fraud and it’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s incredibly important that instances of pension fraud, and attempted scams, are reported to Action Fraud.”

Commenting on the new data, Aegon head of pensions, Kate Smith, said the figures highlight the scale of pension fraud and the number of people affected, and added to recent calls for government action to tackle scams.

“It is so important that we continue to talk about this issue to make more people aware of the very real dangers,” Smith added. “Responding to unsolicited approaches or signing up to things without really understanding them or knowing who you are dealing with, can lead to devastating losses.

“The pandemic has massively increased our reliance on all things digital. While this is great for keeping us connected, there is a dark side which can compromise our safety.

“We know scammers are lurking and employ a whole host of tactics to try and part people with their hard-earned savings. There’s increasing evidence to show that scammers create convincing websites or another online presence, which people can inadvertently fall prey to when searching online.

“This issue isn’t going away. Decisive action needs to be taken to protect people against online scams. We strongly urge the government to include online investment and pension scams and financial harms protection within the government’s Online Safety Bill.”

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