Understanding pension scams and the effectiveness of the public policy response

Understanding pension scams and the effectiveness of the public policy response

Related Themes: Fraud, Organised crime
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Pension scams cover a number of deviant practices that range from unethical and exploitative business practices to serious criminality. The impact on those affected can be severe, with many victims left with no retirement savings to live off into old age.

The responsibility for tackling pension scams is spread across a wide range of public and private sector organisations. To be effective, partners need to align themselves to a continuously evolving problem. Since the introduction of new legislation in 2015/16 which provided pension holders with greater freedoms to access and reinvest their retirement savings, the nature of pensions scams has changed. Yet much of the problem remains hidden due to under reporting from victims. Information also remains in silos across organisations.

The Police Foundation has completed research to better understand the problem of pension scams. It has looked at the current response, including how public policy, regulations and law enforcement are applied. It has also considered how enforcement action be can used to tackle pension scammers more effectively and provide a better service to victims. We have produced a set of recommendations to inform policies and practices that are better able to prevent and respond to pension scams.

Research methodologies included:

  • A survey of pension companies to get a frontline perspective on the scale and nature of the problem.
  • Semi-structured interviews with senior practitioners from stakeholder organsiations.
  • Interviews with police teams to understand who offenders are, how they offend and the regulatory gaps they are exploiting.