Britain’s leading financial watchdog has lifted the lid on how pension scams are investigated – and revealed 20 scammers are under scrutiny for suspected fraud.
The information was revealed in a letter to Parliament’s Work and Pension Committee from Andrew Bailey, the CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
In a long letter expanding points he had discussed with the committee at an earlier hearing, Bailey disclosed the FCA currently has a team of 10 investigators working on suspected pension scams.
However, he did not reveal the details of the investigations.
“I want to highlight that tackling scams is a key priority for the FCA,” Bailey wrote.
Beating the fraudsters
“Harm suffered by consumers as the result of pension scams is one of the most significant issues affecting the sector. As well as their impact on individuals, we also have concerns about the significant role they can play in lowering consumer confidence in the sector.”
Although the FCA has a specialist team of 10 working on pension scams, other investigators are added to the team if necessary, including a pension scam intelligence unit, which has a staff of six.
“This team collates, analyses and researches all incoming and self-generated intelligence regarding pension scams and systemic miss-selling,” wrote Bailey.
He explained that a typical scam investigation might involve several teams looking at different aspects of the case.
One team would look at the firm offering the advice to consumers, another at the SIPP provider holding the investment related to the scam.
British Steel pension complaints
Other teams would investigate the fund manager and unregulated advisers referring consumers.
“Our approach to resourcing is deliberately flexible, but if we add up the time spent by our staff it is substantially larger than 10 full time equivalents,” wrote Bailey.
Meanwhile, the Pension Ombudsman is almost ready to deliver decisions on three complaints about transfers from the British Steel Pension Scheme.
The ombudsman has a file of 229 complaints – with 51 about transfer values and 178 about money moved from the fund to other schemes.
“We are currently in the process of finalising the Ombudsman’s preliminary decisions on the lead cases which will be shared with the applicant of that lead and the trustee,” said a spokesman.