City of London Police says it has dismantled a suspected organised crime gang believed to be cold-calling and text messaging people across the UK with fraudulent pension liberation offers.
On Wednesday morning detectives from the National Lead Force for fraud entered a City of London based office housing up to 40 call-operatives, arresting three men and seizing computers and documents.
At the same time the investigation team, supported by Police Scotland and the Serious Organised Crimes Agency, were arresting two men in Ayr and in Glasgow. Further arrests were made in Cheshire.
It is the first time the police has launched a major investigation into pension liberation fraud.
City of London Police commander Steve Head says: “Pension liberation fraud is the new boiler room fraud phenomenon as fraudsters seek to exploit new opportunities thrown up by the changing economic climate.
“The promise of maximising returns on your pension savings may seem to make good financial sense but the reality is you could be falling into a terrible trap which has the potential to destroy your retirement.
Pensions minister Steve Webb says: “Pension liberation fraud is a crime and we along with the police and others across Government are cracking down on these schemes.”
The arrests follow a crackdown on pension liberation involving a coalition of regulators and the Government earlier this year.
The Pensions Regulator has worked with the FSA, HMRC, the Serious Fraud Office, The Pension Advisory Service and ‘Action Fraud’ to develop a series of new documents designed to warn people of the dangers of attempting to access their pension early.
Providers have also attempted to tackle the problem by delaying or blocking transfers to schemes they suspect are being used for pension liberation.