More than ten websites designed to trick the public into losing much or all of their pension have been shut down after the National Crime Agency (NCA) issued a series of alerts to internet registries.
The websites deliberately misrepresented key facts on accessing cash from pension funds - enabling a crime known as pension liberation fraud. This type of fraud has cost the UK more than half a billion pounds to date.
The websites were designed to mislead and convince visitors to access part of their pension fund immediately by transferring it into a new scheme. Barring exceptional circumstances, anyone doing this prior to retirement must pay tax of more than 50% of their entire pension fund. Any money remaining is usually taken by the fraudsters as ‘fees’ or is channelled into worthless or non-existent investments.
Misleading language used
The NCA’s alerts detailed the misleading language used on the websites, which broke the domain registrars’ terms and conditions – which gave grounds for removal.
Individuals attempting to access certain websites, or domains with similar names, will now be automatically redirected to a page on Action Fraud providing information on identifying and reporting pension liberation fraud.
Project Bloom, the multi-agency taskforce set up to address pension liberation activity, has to date issued awareness-raising products to the banking, pensions and public sectors, made arrests and disrupted pension liberation fraud operations.
Coordinated by NCA, it involves the Serious Fraud Office, Department for Work and Pensions, The Pensions Regulator, Action Fraud, City of London Police, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, HMRC, The Information Commissioners Office and the Financial Conduct Authority.
Stephanie Jeavons from the NCA said:“Pension funds are relied on by millions to sustain us in retirement, and the consequences of being tricked into losing them through tax penalties and worthless investments can be devastating. Some victims of pension liberation fraud only find out when they retire that much, or all, of their pension is gone. Denying fraudsters the channels of communication they need to part people from their money is a key element of our approach to tackling this type of crime. The NCA and its partners are also working to help members of the public spot this type of scam, and to dismantle pension liberation fraud enterprises.”
For further information please visit the National Crime Agency website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.