1. Stephen
    January 18, 2019 @ 8:03 am

    Not sure why Kim had to write an “intro” but no matter …

    Pensions – like flying – has many players to make the whole thing work like a well oiled machine.

    Binding the pensions industry are regulations to ensure customers are protected – that’s the theory anyway.

    In the case of flying, the regulations appear to work well; in financial services however, they fail spectacularly because the regulations, supported by legislation are not enforced.

    Pension scams, like flying, does operate as a well oiled machine and thrives because the regulators let it happen.

    Unlicensed “advisers” are the architects of the operation and their goal is to raise money for risky hare-brained schemes – unregulated funds paying huge commissions and managed by people who can’t get a real job and couldn’t manage a p*ss up in a brewery.

    Irrefutable evidence of such an operation is: https://pension-life.com/not-so-square-mile-and-far-from-lilly-white/ and one of the hare-brained funds referred to is Blackmore Global https://pension-life.com/blackmore-global-pension-scam/ and one of the directors of that high risk hare-brained fund is Phillip Nunn – https://pension-life.com/phillip-nunn-scam-year-blackmore-global/ – who is still running risky unregulated schemes, his latest being Blackmore Bond, https://pension-life.com/blackmore-bond-shaken-not-stirred-careless-or-stupid/ and also a high risk crypto-currency investment club! They are like pilots without a licence and no one cares!

    The “advisers” are more often than not unqualified and unregulated people – except in the case of Stephen Ward who was, by all accounts, regulated and knowledgeable but used that knowledge to turn to the dark side.

    Giving investment advice is – in the UK – a regulated activity and it is unlawful for an unauthorised person to give investment advice to retail customers – see FSMA 2000 s.19, the General Prohibition. Scammers use a useless insurance bond in an attempt to circumvent that. Scammers argue they are actually selling “insurance” and to do that they only need to have “insurance mediation” permissions from the regulator. Apparently insurance mediation licence is easy to get – probably Buy One Get One Free even – whereas permission to give investment advice requires qualifications, something scammers are too stupid and too lazy to get. However, the FCA have told me, in writing that whilst there is an insurance element, it’s the investment rules that apply so it seems insurance mediation is insufficient to advise you to invest in these hare-brained schemes! Consequently these advisers are acting unlawfully.

    To facilitate the mistaken belief that insurance mediation is all they need for legitimacy, the scammers have teamed up with offshore trustees that offer a QROP – a tax efficient wrapper for pensions that satisfies HMRC rules, an example being https://pension-life.com/azure-pensions-a-reputation-built-on-lack-of-trust/ and others being STM Fidecs and FNB ( https://pension-life.com/fnb-international-trustees-guernsey/ ) – and they have teamed up with insurance companies to offer useless bonds as a wrapper for the unregulated hare-brained investment schemes – OMI is one example; another example is Investors Trust https://pension-life.com/serious-violation-of-investors-trust-by-investors-trust-life-office/ a Cayman Islands company that I believe is not even licensed to sell its products anywhere in the EU but was being used in Malta under the very nose of the MFSA!

    So the stage is set, your money flies offshore (and just like luggage, is destined to be lost …) to the QROP, who are then happy to transfer it to the insurance company, who then are quite happy to send it to spivs like Nunn & McCreesh or James Hadley – https://pension-life.com/stm-fidecs-trafalgar-multi-asset-scam/ – to spend on hare-brained private ventures.

    Now each participant in this well oiled machine gets a BIG slice of your pension cake: the unqualified advisers get commission from the investment funds – cleverly disguised as a “distribution fee”; the QROP and insurance firm take annual “admin fees” and the managers of the hare-brained schemes take management fees for throwing your money away. Your pension now haemorrhages money at an alarming rate, often for ten years and more often than not, the hare-brained scheme fails, goes bust, money gone but the other players continue to charge you their fees for providing what now becomes “empty wrappers” – duty of care or just simply unjustifiable theft? You decide.

    Aviation is a heavily regulated regime. Pilots are “tested” every 6 months for health and to ensure they can still cope with a variety of emergencies; the planes have strict maintenance schedules with every nut and bolt having a detailed history; before every flight, pilots go through a detailed checklist and the pilot even walks round the outside for a visual inspection and cabin crew check seat belts and luggage secured etc. I am sure the CAA audits each company regularly to ensure these checks are actually being performed. There are no doubt stiff penalties for non-compliance!

    Financial services is also heavily regulated. For a decade now your ceding provider has been required to carry out some due diligence on all transfer requests and not just rubber stamp them – they don’t check and they do just rubber stamp it – but the Pensions Regulator is not checking and is failing to penalise providers. However, PO-12763 has set an interesting precedent – https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/determinations/2018/po-12763/the-police-pension-scheme/ – but it needs more testing by more people complaining to the Ombudsman. I have submitted my complaint against my ceding provider – Mercer – who have told me they think my case is weak and have even questioned (in writing) whether I was in a scam at all! That was a despicable and unsympathetic accusation imho and demonstrates their contempt for pension scams. I hope the Ombudsman throws the book at them!

    The receiving trustee is governed by trust laws and also owes you a duty of care. They know full well the advisers are unqualified and unregulated; they know the schemes your money ends up in are high risk unregulated investments wholly unsuitable for low risk pensions; they know full well the insurance bond wrapper serves no purpose other than to pay fees to the insurance companies but they go ahead anyway. They flout their “duty of care” and regulators in the many Mickey Mouse jurisdictions favoured by scammers, do not stop them – like Malta, IoM, Guernsey and Gibraltar to name just a few.

    Finally, unauthorised advisers are unlawfully carrying out a regulated activity and the FCA are doing nothing to stop it. When you report the advisers they tell you to contact Action Fraud but as as the architect of the scam I got caught in said to me when I threatened Action Fraud: “That’s fine, Action Fraud are nobody and have no authority” – https://pension-life.com/action-fraud-nobody-no-authority-john-ferguson-square-mile-financial-services/

    At every step in a scam, those charged with a regulated responsibility, fail to carry it out and the authorities do not apply sanctions for those failures. Orchestrating a pension scam is so easy when the rewards are so lucrative and you don’t have to worry you will get caught and punished! The very system designed to protect you is actually facilitating the scams by making it so easy for the scammers.

    Finally, to those people who then accuse victims of pension scams of being either greedy or stupid I say this: If you chose a low budget carrier and the plane crashed on take off and it turned out one or more organisations had cut corners in their checks or maintenance, would you be happy for people to accuse you of being stupid or greedy for choosing a cheap-sh*t budget carrier? Or would you blame those legally charged with a duty of care to you, for trading safety for profit and cutting corners? Would you also be happy for the CAA to be remiss in it’s obligations to investigate and let them off without sanctions? I doubt it very much!

    Regulations are there for a reason and organisations that do business in any regulated industry should accept their responsibilities and if found wanting should be the ones penalised – not the victims of their negligence. For some reason pension scams are seen as the victim’s fault, not those negligent of their duties to the victims or those acting unlawfully.


    • Angie
      January 18, 2019 @ 11:45 am

      Stephen – Kim wrote the intro because I was away in Barcelona. Your points are, of course, all valid. However, I still battle with so-called “experts” who accuse the victims of being their own worst enemies. This reminds me of Saudi Arabia where victims of rape are stoned to death.


  2. Stephen
    January 18, 2019 @ 7:00 pm

    I was unaware of the Saudi Arabia practice you describe, but what you describe is not so dissimilar in this country, where not so long ago victims of rape, or in a violent relationship, where it was often said: “they must have brought it on themselves …”.

    Throughout history it has been held that “women” themselves are the reason for rape or violent abuse. In very recent times I have seen women who have been raped said to be responsible simply because they have dressed in a certain way that has “tempted” rape and so the “male cannot possibly be responsible!”

    It’s a deplorable conclusion, but I have not heard of women being stoned for it, which is a completely barbaric act but not unexpected in the “backward” region you say it happens.

    The world has a long – and I mean a loooong way to go before it can say it is truly “civilised”. Maybe in another 1000 or so year, if ever even! A sad state of affairs, but not one I will have to endure for too long I suspect, 10 years at most maybe?


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