THE WAY THE PENNINES PENSION SCAM WORKED
Members were targeted by “Cash From Pensions” and persuaded to transfer into Pennines to get an “unconnected loan” once they had transferred into the Pennines scheme which was invested in Hedge Capital. The scheme is now in the hands of Dalriada Trustees.
There were around 143 victims with a total value of £3,280,325.27 worth of transfers in the fund. The Pennines pension scam was run alongside two other schemes: Mendips and Malvern between August 2011 and March 2012. The trustee was John Laurence Woodward (of HCL) and Jennifer Doris Ilett. The administrator was T12 Administration.
The promoters of the scam were Unlock My Frozen Pension and Cash 4 Pensions (Adrian Price). The “hook” used to tempt victims into the scam was the assurance that they could “legally access pension funds without incurring tax liabilities”. The fees charged were 3% per annum plus £500 management fee
Dalriada Trustees were appointed on the 28th March 2012 by the Pensions Regulator. The victims of the Pennines pension scam liberated various amounts ranging from 25% upwards and HMRC started sending out protected assessments in March 2015.
One very distressed victim of the Pennines pension scam – who has been treated for severe depression for several years as a result of this scam – reported:
“I was doing several searches online for a loan, that would maybe accept a person with bad credit when the “unlock my frozen pension” appeared. It all seemed very legitimate so I sent off an enquiry form.
I was called back immediately by a member of the unlock my frozen pension team, they spent a lot of time telling me that they would put me in contact with a company called Hedge Capital who would transfer my pension into their scheme, and that I would legally be able to access 25% of my pension fund as a tax-free lump sum which was to be repaid once I reached the age of 55 . In the meantime, the remaining amount of my pension would be invested , in the scheme until I reached the age of 65 and there was little or no risk involved.
I was also contacted by a company called Money Helpers, who prompted me to word an email to Towers Watson for the transfer of my pension. My knowledge of the pension and taxation position was very limited at that time and I believed what I was being told by the Unlock My Frozen Pension people. I contacted Towers Watson who held my pension from JP Morgan (my former employer) about the transfer and they told me they were happy to go ahead with it.
I believed I was taking an advance on my pension in a perfectly legal manner as it was to be repaid at age 55.”