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Opra swoop uncovered £4m bogus pension sting by IFAs

Two Midlands IFAs face up to five years in prison after defrauding the Inland Revenue in a £4m scam to transfer cash from occupational pension schemes.

Stephen Russell, 60, and William Ferguson, 56, pleaded guilty to four charges of cheating the public purse after transferring the occupational scheme rights of around 200 people into bogus pension schemes.

They operated a network of dormant companies that held Pension Schemes Office approval. The pair will be sentenced on February 27.

The prosecution followed an Opra swoop on the IFAs&#39 offices that revealed false employment documents allowing clients access to their pension fund via a cheque payable to a fake employer.

Russell, of Chapel Lane, Little Bourton, Banbury and Ferguson, of Lillington Avenue, Leamington Spa, took 20 per cent commission and gave the remainder to their clients.

The court heard the men made around £600,000 from 1996 to 2000 but the cash was probably now offshore and unlikely to be recovered.

The Revenue says it will pursue any clients that knowingly participated in the scam.

Opra is investigating another five “pension liberation” scams targeting low-income areas hit by factory lay-offs.

Opra communications director Nick Edmans says: “This is the classic pension scam. It seems everyone is a winner but the victim is also an accomplice and that is the hallmark of a sting.”

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