Wednesday, 21 September 2016 10:08

Pension regulator mulls ways to tackle phone scams

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The Pensions Regulator has revealed it is looking to work with the Information Commissioner to see how it might crackdown on cold calling as part of a project to tackle scammers.

TPR this morning outlined how it is assessing the threat and risk posed by fraudsters through a scheme working with national crime tackling bodies.

Mike Broomfield, head of intelligence at The Pensions Regulator, speaking at the AMPS Conference in London, was asked about the problem of cold calls.

He revealed that as part of Project Bloom, TPR is talking with the Information Commissioner’s Office “to see what we can do with that subject matter”.

He said: “We will work with ICO to see what we can do on that aspect.”

Regarding more general means of advertising scams, he said TPR has worked with Google to take down online adverts and get them removed.

Project Bloom, which involves various crime agencies, was set up originally because regulators saw a number of cases involving various scams and pension liberation models.

Mr Broomfield explained how Project Bloom has been brought into the remit of the organisation. TPR took over Project Bloom in April this year and set out to reassess threat and risk of pensions scams.

It has law enforcement support, working with the National Crime Agency and other bodies.

He said TPR had seen QROPS, Sipps, SSAS and a whole range of vehicles used to part people with their pension funds.

The project is looking at how it can disrupt and tackle scams, fraud and misrepresentation to the members of pension schemes.

Another iteration of the Scorpion campaign is to run at some point soon.

Citizens Advice is coming into the programme to help ensure that all bodies tackling pensions scams are coordinated with their messages.

TPR is also looking to redefine what pensions scams mean because it has moved on with the advent of the new freedoms, Mr Broomfield said.

Asked by AMPS chairman Neil MacGillivray, if the fight against fraudsters is a losing battle, Mr Broomfield conceded that “there’s no silver bullet” but believes the on-going work can make a significant difference.

Mr MacGillivray said he had learnt of a case where a retired police constable was a victim, showing how scammers have become particularly sophisticated. He explained that the ex-policeman had said the scheme had all made perfect sense, with all of his questions instantly answered by the perpetrators.

He said: “The level of detail is incredible.”

Meanwhile at an earlier session Fiona Nicol, The Pensions Ombudsman’s casework director, reported that her organisation has “dealt with a considerably large number of cases in last couple of years about alleged pensions liberation.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 15:03