Steve Pimlott of Windsor Pensions is still scamming people out of their pensions. And seeking new victims on LinkedIn. Inviting people to:
Transfer your frozen UK pensions to a QROPS
He will charge between 10% and 20% and will use forged documentation from an obscure QROPS such as Danica and BSEC and then fool the ceding provider into transferring a pension into a fraudulently-set-up bank account in a dodgy jurisdiction such as the Isle of Man.
Pimlott – who may also go by the name of Steve Derrick Pimlott – claims to have done many thousands of these transactions and states that only a couple of hundred people have ever got caught by HMRC. And even then, he says, as most of the people live offshore they ignore the tax demands of 55% on the amount liberated. HMRC’s version of events is somewhat different and tell me that in some cases Pimlott made off with the whole transfer and the victim never even got the 80% or 90% that was left.
Pimlott involved a firm allegedly called Insignia Financial Services in some of the cases. Although this gave some of the victims an illusion of respectability, the firm was in fact a clone of an FCA-registered entity.
Pimlott is reportedly in Florida – not too far from Stephen Ward’s Indian Point holiday villa empire. Ward also told his victims to throw the tax demands in the bin. However, Pimlott’s property portfolio is considerably larger than Ward’s. If Pimlott is telling the truth about having done 5,000 liberations, then HMRC will be pretty busy. If we assume the average pension pot size was, say, £50,000 and Windsor Pensions charged 15% fees for each one, then Pimlott earned a cool £37.5 million. And herein lies the problem: while these scammers are earning such huge amounts of money, they are hardly likely to give it all up voluntarily.
I hark back to the Pensions Regulator’s Lesley Titcomb’s statement that “scammers are criminals”. Steve Pimlott and his associates are criminals. They need prosecuting, given maximum jail sentences and their assets confiscating. The industry needs to get behind this and support the pressure that must be put on law enforcement agencies in the UK, USA and beyond.
HMRC say there were sufficient warnings about pension scams in the public domain for years. In 2009, the FCA warned about a rogue firm called Cash In Your Pension operating liberation scams; HMRC warned about pension liberation scams involving rogue IFAs. Yet still the ceding pension providers carried out zero due diligence. For years they just kept handing over thousands of pension pots to the scammers without a thought to the financial ruin they were inflicting on the victims.
Hopefully, now the Pensions Regulator’s Andrew Warwick-Thompson is going to work for one of these negligent pension providers – LGPS – he will help bring these companies to justice as well.
HMRC NEWSLETTER 39:
Readers may have seen the HMRC News Release on 22 June 2009 which confirmed 11 people, including some independent financial advisers, were arrested following raids in the North West and Midlands. These arrests were linked to an estimated £2.5 million suspected tax relief fraud involving bogus pension schemes. Enquiries are continuing in that case.
Pension Schemes Services (PSS) and other areas of HMRC are continuing to work closely with our regulatory colleagues to ensure that the interests of members are properly protected through bona fide pension schemes and that the generous tax reliefs available through employer/member contributions are not abused. We will vigorously pursue those who deliberately attempt to defraud the public purse.