Pension scammers are already moving cold-calling operations outside of the UK, despite yesterday’s ban by the UK government, according to research undertaken by a Pension scam campaign and support group Pension Life.
Pensions campaigner and Pension Life founder Angie Brooks told International Investment that while the UK government’s move to ban cold calling, including emails and texts, is to be welcomed, bigger criminal sentences need to be handed out, or scammers will continue to operate outside of regulatory rules, regardless of government bans.
Brooks, pictured above, warned that cold calling centres, targeting social media sites for ‘leads’, have already been created in places such as Kuala Lumpur where the labour is cheap and activities are harder to detect.
“It is excellent news that the [UK] government is at last going to take some long overdue action to try to prevent pension scams and that both the regulators and HMRC are going to join in to support this initiative,” said Brooks.
“But the government must understand that until and unless the scammers are prosecuted and put behind bars, they will just keep on scamming and finding ways around any preventative measures.
“In fact, they already have – and cold-calling centres have been set up in Kuala Lumpur and other similar places where labour is cheap. The scammers “harvest” contact details from social media and also buy contact databases which are sold illegally.”
Brooks said that she has in her possession an example of one of these databases with 22,087 contacts which, she says can be sold for around £1m, a reflection, she says of the amount that can be made from such activities.
As reported, the estimate from the UK government is that £5m has been lost to scammers in the first few months of 2017. Brooks says that this is “of course, terrible news for the victims who will have lost their life savings,” but, she says, there she strongly suspects the real figure is actually much higher than the estimates.
“The scammers have made a great deal of money from scams over the past seven years – and enjoy their magnificent mansions, top of the range sports cars and luxurious life styles,” said Brooks.
“They are not going to give their evil trade up without a fight. Until and unless it is made absolutely clear that pension scamming is a criminal offence and there are numerous high-profile prosecutions, the scammers will not stop.”
Click here, to view an exclusive video interview with Angie Brooks, last month at her Spanish headquarters.