Advisers from APJ Solicitors, financial mis-selling specialists, warned today that people need to remain vigilant as the ongoing pandemic is bringing new and unexperienced circumstances
APJ Solicitors said their analysts are noticing that the covid-19 pandemic is increasingly being used as a hook to commit fraud and experts are urging people to be vigilant.
Forecasts predict that close to 2 million people face losing their job during the uncertainty of the covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath. With more and more people worried about their future, scammers are on the rise to push pension movement.
It’s important to remember: if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”
As many people struggle with the uncertainty of where their next paycheque might come from, people may look to their savings and in many cases, their pensions.
It is these moments of panic that scammers are relying on in their search for the most vulnerable to target.
"We found that on average hard-working Brits are losing £155,000 to unscrupulous advisers," said Glyn Taylor, a professional support lawyer at APJ Solicitors. "We predict that this number may rise due to scammers taking advantage of people's vulnerability and emotions during the pandemic. We urge people to remain watchful of scams and scammers. It's important to remember: if it's too good to be true, it usually is."
According to APJ Solicitors, "It's easy to think that you wouldn't fall victim to a stranger touting too good to be true investment opportunities, but many Brits have invested huge amounts of money into Costa Rican ethical forestry schemes, hotel resorts in Cape Verde, sustainable eco oil schemes in Cambodia and more, after being approached by cold callers. With the pandemic on everyone's mind, fraudsters are now attempting to lure victims with ‘healthcare opportunities' and support for charities that cease to exist."
The company explained that scammers will often try to offer victims the opportunity to access their pension before the age of 55, which, during the current financial climate, will seem very attractive to those who have been furloughed or worry about the risk of losing their job. However the promise of money before retirement age is false (unless there are extreme mitigating circumstances such as terminal illness), and any "legal loopholes" that may be stated by scammers do not exist.
These scammers often use tactics such as the offer of free pension reviews and time pressure to trick people into transferring large sums of money into fraudulent or risky schemes for high commission fees. And, if you invest in overseas schemes, it can be difficult to get the money back. The end result is often losing your investment and receiving a huge tax bill from the HMRC.
"With each new day, the pandemic is changing people's lives at a rapid pace; scammers are using this to their advantage by putting pressure on victims to act now before it's too late. To push victims into making a decision without checking the facts, many scammers and unscrupulous firms tell callers that the investment opportunities on offer are time-sensitive, or one-time-only offers," Taylor explained.