The recently launched National Crime Agency (NCA) has ordered more than 10 websites be taken offline after it was found that they were trying to deceive members of the public into losing much or all of their pension savings.
The websites in question were designed to convince visitors to access part of their pension fund immediately through transferring it into a new scheme, but anyone doing this prior to retirement must typically pay tax charges which can amount to more than 50 percent of their entire fund.
Any remaining money can be decimated by fees or channelled into worthless or non-existent investments by the fraudsters.
‘Pension liberation’ is believed to have cost the UK more than half a billion pounds to date and the NCA’s action this week forms part of ongoing attempts to combat this type of fraud.
The NCA’s investigation led to the agency alerting the internet registries to the misleading language on the websites concerned, which flouted the respective domain registrars’ terms and conditions and thereby gave grounds for their removal.
Anyone trying to access the sites, or domains with similar names, will now be automatically redirected to a page on the Action Fraud website providing information on identifying and reporting pension liberation fraud.
The owners of the domains that were taken offline were directed to a webpage explaining the action taken against them.
“Pension funds are relied on by millions to sustain us in retirement, and the consequences of being tricked into losing them through tax penalties and worthless investments can be devastating. Some victims of pension liberation fraud only find out when they retire that much, or all, of their pension is gone,” said Stephanie Jeavons from the NCA.
“Denying fraudsters the channels of communication they need to part people from their money is a key element of our approach to tackling this type of crime. The NCA and its partners are also working to help members of the public spot this type of scam, and to dismantle pension liberation fraud enterprises.”
The NCA also recently announced that it has secured its first conviction following an investigation by its National Cyber Crime Unit, which is a combination of the cyber function that was built up under SOCA and the Metropolitan Police’s e-crime unit.