Just 6.6% of pension scam reports handed to police in 2019

Only 6.6% of pension fraud reports submitted to Action Fraud in 2019 passed the review process and were given to the police to investigate, according to new research from Quilter.

Figures obtained under a freedom of information request revealed that a total 394 pension scam reports were submitted to Action Fraud during 2019, yet just 26 cases were passed to the relevant police force for investigation.

Quilter suggested that it remains unclear how many, if any, of those investigations led to a criminal justice outcome.

The same figures collected by the adviser show that up to July in 2020, 153 pension fraud reports have been received by Action Fraud, and only 24 have been passed to the relevant police force for investigation.

Last month, Action Fraud data revealed that a total of £30,857,329 has been lost to pension scammers since 2017, but Quilter indicated that this could be “just the tip of the iceberg”, given many victims are unaware they have fallen victim to a fraud.

In light of difficulties in investigating pension scams, Quilter has urged the Government to do more to tackle the threat of scams by making it harder for the criminals to reach potential victims.

“The fact that it is so hard to investigate and prosecute pension scams is effectively handing pension scammers a get out of jail free card,” Quilter head of retirement policy, Jon Greer, commented. “If you are mugged, it’s highly likely that the police will investigate, but lose your life savings to a pension scammer and your odds don’t look good.

“Pension scams and other investment frauds are extremely complex, they can span multiple jurisdictions, and can often go uncovered for years before the victim realises their money is gone. This all makes investigating the scams incredibly time consuming and expensive, which is why the police have to prioritise those few cases where they have a chance of success.

“The legal deterrent appears to be ineffective, so more must be done to prevent scammers from operating, and to do this we must cut the line of communication between the scammers and their victims: search engines and social media.

“Movement on the regulation of search engines and social media platforms has been painfully slow and the regulation has failed to keep up with the evolution of scammers.

“The Government has a perfect opportunity to bring the regulation into the 21st century by including financial harms within scope of the forthcoming Online Harms Bill. This will mean that, for the first time, search engines and social media platforms will be bound by a statutory duty of care to tackle harm caused as a result of content or activity on their services.”

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