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Victims lose £1m in pension scams

File picture of older people Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pensions have been stolen or put into high-risk schemes

Two victims of elaborate pension scams lost more than £1m each to fraudsters, new figures have revealed.

The two individuals, whose identities are being protected by the authorities, lost their savings over the two years to June 2018.

The data, from police reporting centre Action Fraud, has shown that victims lost £91,000 on average in 2017 when targeted by these kind of scams.

A ban on cold-calling about pensions came into force earlier this month.

How fraudsters operate

Pension scams start with an unexpected call, text, social media approach or email - offering a free pension review, or a way to make attractive returns on pension savings.

But the money may be simply stolen or transferred into a high-risk scheme completely inappropriate for retirement savings.

Many offer eye-catching returns or high-rolling investments in hotels or green energy schemes that never materialise, or instead lead to losses.

Some 10.9 million unsolicited pension calls and messages are made a year, according to consumer group Citizens Advice.

Earlier this month, the government introduced a ban on unsolicited calls offering pension "deals" of this kind. Any firm found flouting the rules faces a fine of up to £500,000, but experts suggest fraudsters may ignore the ban.

Now The Pensions Regulator and Action Fraud have warned that the risks of these scams remain, and people of any age should still be vigilant.

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, said: "These statistics prove that the consequences of falling victim to a pension scam can be devastating.

"Victims can lose their life savings and are left facing retirement with little or no income."

It is believed that the majority of scam victims never contact the authorities.

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