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Welcome to the latest edition of our Financial Crime Awareness Bulletin. This bulletin considers recent developments and trends in the Financial Crime sector and is designed to bring them to your attention. It is intended to draw your attention to key topics affecting the industry, highlight important issues and changes to legislation and re-emphasise the need to remain vigilant to the potential to be exposed to financial crime.

Pension Fraud 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) are urging the public to be vigilant when receiving unsolicited offers about their pensions and to check who they are dealing with.

The FCA and TPR have launched a joint TV advertising campaign to raise awareness of pensions scams and the most common tactics used by fraudsters.

Figures from Action Fraud have shown that a total of 253 victims reported that they had lost more than £23million to pension scammers in 2017, equating to an average loss of £91,000 per victim.

Highly sophisticated scammers are luring people into transferring their pensions intro fraudulent schemes with victims losing their life savings and being left to face retirement with limited income.

One of the most common tactics is to offer a ‘free pension review’. Other scam tactics include:

  • Unexpected contact about the pension via telephone, post or email.
  • Promises of guaranteed high returns and downplaying the risks.
  • Offering unusual or overseas investment that are not regulated by the FCA i.e. forestry, green energy schemes, etc.
  • Putting people under pressure to make a quick decision, for example with time-limited offers and sending a courier round with paperwork to sign.
  • Claiming to be able to unlock money from an individual’s pension (normally only possible from age 55).


The FCA and TPR recommend four simple steps to protected against pension scams:

  • Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the telephone.
  • Check the FCA register to ensure the individual & firm is legitimate and authorised.
  • Do not be rushed or pressured into making a decision about your pension.
  • Consider getting impartial information and advice.


If you think that someone has been a victim of a pension scam, please make sure that they report this via the Action Fraud website.

Further information can be found on the FCA’s website

Fraudsters take Advantage of the HMRC Tax Refund Process 

HMRC only informs individuals about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer. All emails, text messages, or voicemail messages claiming that you have a tax refund are a scam.

The fraudulent emails and texts include links which take victims to fake websites where their personal and financial information can be stolen.

It is vital that the links in any messages are not clicked and that they are forwarded to HMRC’s phishing email – or for any text message received this can be forwarded to HMRC on the following number: 60599.

Make sure that private information is not provided, do not reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you were not expecting.

Cryptocurrency Fraud

Over the last 12 months you would be hard-pressed to avoid hearing about the unprecedented heights reached by Bitcoin and the dozens of other cryptocurrencies that cropped up as a result.

However, not only is cryptocurrency a risky market, but direct investment in such currencies is unregulated in the UK, meaning you won’t have the protections afforded to you by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or Financial Ombudsman Service.

How does cryptocurrency fraud work?

Fraudsters are cold calling victims and using social media platforms to advertise ‘get rich quick’ investments in mining and trading in cryptocurrencies.

The fraudsters will convince victims to sign up to the cryptocurrency investment websites and to part with personal details such as credit card information and driving licence details to open a trading account. The victim will then make an initial minimum deposit, after which the fraudster will call them to persuade to invest again in order to achieve a greater profit. 

Do not assume a professional looking website, advert or social media post is real and that the investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can use the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.

Do not be rushed or pressured into making a decision. A genuine financial organisation will not force you to part with your money immediately. Always be wary if there is pressure to invest quickly or there are promised returns that sound too good to be true.

Rise in Fake TSB Text Messages and Phishing Emails 

Over the past 3 months there has been a rise in fraudsters sending out fake messages and phishing emails claiming to be from TSB.

Since May 2018 there has been 321 phishing reports made to Action Fraud which is a significant increase on the previous month where only 30 reports were made. In the same reporting period, there have been 51 reports of cybercrime to Action Fraud which mention TSB, again an increase on the previous month, where 24 reports were made.

Fraudsters are using specialist software which changes the sender ID on text messages so that it looks like messages are being sent by the bank. In some instances, this spoofed text is being added to an existing TSB message thread on victims phones, making it look even more legitimate.

How To Protect Yourself & Others

Do not assume an email or text is authentic – always question uninvited approaches. Telephone numbers and email addresses can be spoofed, so always contact the company directly via known email or telephone number.

Clicking on links / files – do not be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected text message or email.  Make sure you check the contents and be cautious of any suspicious activity.

Report it – if you think you have received a phishing email or text, report it to Action Fraud via the following link:






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