Let us dispell some myths once and for all. Crocodiles are marvellous creatures, efficient hunting machines and dutiful, loving parents. They also make rather stylish handbags. Ditto alligators. And snakes.
When the Pensions Regulator published their pension scam warning campaign in February 2013 (some 15 years after they first realised this was a huge problem and posed the risk of ruining thousands of innocent lives), they chose the scorpion as the mascot.
Interestingly, the scorpion is closely related to spiders, mites and ticks, and is especially good at surviving in harsh conditions. But, even more interestingly, it uses its sting only to survive – not to amass a vast hoarde of food/prey. When I launched my first pension-scam warning campaign – entitled “Ward Off Vultures” (unashamedly aimed at Stephen Ward of Premier Pension Solutions who scammed thousands of victims out of their pensions from 2010 onwards) – I overlooked the fact that vultures perform a very environmentally-friendly function by keeping the countryside clear of dead bodies.
So what animal would we use to represent the pension scammers? I’ve thought of the fox, but that could embroil us in a whole off-topic argument about fox hunting. It has always amazed me that so many anti-hunting campaigners are intensely passionate about fox hunting but never once mention the persecution of rats, slugs, moles, wasps and battery hens.
I found an excellent site which lists the top ten most dangerous animals in the world: box jellyfish; cone snail; black mamba; cape buffalo; siafu ant; deathstalker scorpion; puffer fish; hyena; stone fish; human. Ignoring the bleeding obvious (i.e. human), none of the rest inspired me. Jellyfish, cone snails, puffer, and stone fish tend to lurk mainly under water, and one doesn’t see many black mambas or hyenas in Manchester or Moraira.
But while I was reading up on all the fascinating facts on these apparently deadly creatures, an advert for Blevins Franks kept popping up to invite me to download their facts on tax for British expats. So, being an adventurous sort of gal, I clicked on the link and went through to an amazing library of tax guides for expats in different jurisdictions.
Fascinated to discover such a knowledgeable firm which purports to be “the leading international tax and wealth management advisers to UK nationals living in Europe”, I looked up their license and found that they are not licensed, as they claim to be, for advice in Spain. I think that is fraud…anyway, I digress – back to my quest for a suitable creature for our pension scammer metaphor.
Anyway, I think I have come up with one – the poodle!
And not just any poodle, but the one that lives in my house. His name is Piggles. If we leave a bag of rubbish within reach, he will tear it to pieces. If you leave any food lying about (pizza crusts, the last biscuit in the packet, a few crumbs of chocolate) he will devour it. If you try and move him off the sofa, he will bite you. And his teeth are very sharp.
On second thoughts, perhaps “poodle” doesn’t quite have the right ring about it. Maybe we need something bigger and more frightening like spaniel or labrador? Or maybe “loose floor tile” over which I tripped the other day and broke one of my toes.
Maybe I need Saatchi and Saatchi to come up with something really clever – like the new FCA logo (which looks exactly like the old one). They would probably charge £70k and come up with “really nasty, aggressive, horrible scorpion that falls out of overhead lockers on United Airlines’ lockers”.
While I have been writing this blog, I have been doing a spot of cooking (which I am rumoured to do occasionally) and have come up with an inspired creature: the “tick” – mainly based on what former tPR Chair David Norgrove stated on 13.7.2010 (just before Ark and the Tudor Capital Management scams were launched): “Any administrator who simply ticks a box and allows the transfer, post July 2010, is failing in their duty as a trustee and as such are liable to compensate the beneficiary.”
This encompasses everything: the fact that ticks are parasites; the fact that tPR warned about negligent ceding trustees are liable to compensate their beneficiares for negligent “ticks“; the fact that ticks are disgusting, blood-sucking creatures which transfer life-threatening diseases to their hosts; the fact that tPR warned ceding providers against ticks in a box but then took no action; the fact that the scammers are now enjoying £millions worth of rewards from ruining thousands of pension savers’ retirement incomes etc…..
The fact that Tinky Winky is now going to be working for an “administrator who simply ticked a box and allowed a transfer, post July 2010, is failing in their duty as a trustee and as such is liable to compensate the beneficiary” is great news. Because an LGPS victim is in the High Court on 19.6.2017. And her ceding provider, LGPS, ticked a box and failed in their duty and is liable to compensate her. Nice one Tinky Winky.