The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and police have launched an investigation into a number of pension schemes suspected of being linked to cold-calling.
TPR is concerned that pension holders have been phoned and persuaded to transfer their funds into “poorly-run schemes” with the promise of higher returns and cash incentives upfront.
As part of the same investigation, TPR has appointed an independent trustee to run the Alderley Wealth Management pension scheme over concerns about the management of more than £3m of funds.
TPR said there is evidence that some members requested their funds to be invested in low-risk UK based investments, but instead funds were placed in high-risk and illiquid investments overseas.
The regulator said payments are suspected to have been made to introducers - some of whom are believed to have used cold-calling to target pension holders.
Mike Birch, TPR’s director of case management, said: “Cold-calling pension holders isn’t illegal yet, but no reputable business does it. We would urge anyone to contact Action Fraud if they are phoned and offered the chance to transfer their pension.
“Our message is simple: A cold-call about your pension is an attempt to steal your savings.”
The joint investigation has so far involved search warrants being executed at four homes and businesses in Newcastle, Sunderland and West Bridgford, near Nottingham, on January 11.
TPR teams also inspected one business in the North East in connection with the investigation, before serving a section 72 notice requiring information from that business under the Pensions Act.
One man and one woman have been interviewed by police under caution on suspicion of Fraud Act offences. A second man has been arrested and questioned by police on suspicion of fraud. He has been released while the investigation continues.