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.
Last week, detectives from the National Lead Force for fraud raided an office in the City of London 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.”
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.”
Forty Two Wealth Management partner Alan Dick says: “This is a great step forward but I do not think the people who run these schemes are the kind who will be put off easily.”
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 the police 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.