Serious Fraud Office comments on SIPP unregulated investment scams

According to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) the pensions scams over the last 5 years, have mainly involved SIPPs and fraudsters who use the change in pension freedoms to take a nice slice of investors retirement pot.

The common trend is the promotion of unregulated investments that offer unbelievable high returns, which are sold as safe, environmentally friendly and with buy back options commonly being mentioned.

One of these well-known scams is Capita Oak, which involved over 1,000 people with total investments of well over £120 million.

These alternative schemes offered guaranteed returns and upfront payments to entice clients by giving them cash back. Pension savers often moved very valuable pensions to these high risk, completely fraudulent schemes.

Unfortunately, the majority of investors have lost all of their investment and the returns that were promised never materialised.

Recently the SFO has been investigating a number of these fraudulent investment schemes, such as Ethical Forestry, Global Forestry Investments and Harlequin Group.

Ethical Forestry started to be investigated by the SFO in early 2017 and this is still ongoing.

Global Forestry Investments started to be investigated in June 2014 and as a result of the investigation two of the directors of the company were charged in July 2019 with conspiracy to defraud, forgery and misconduct.

The Harlequin chairman is due to stand trial in April 2020 on charges of fraud.

The SFO spokesperson says: “We cannot comment on specific cases. Fraudsters are always looking for ways to scam people, and pensions is just one aspect of that. Where possible, we investigate those who commit fraud and bring justice to those affected, but we can only help after a scam is discovered.

“Investors should always seek independent financial advice before investing or moving money. If a scheme appears too good to be true it most likely is. If you’ve invested in any of the schemes covered by our investigations, head to our website.”

If you were not a High Net Worth Individual, earning over £100K per year, or a Sophisticated Investor with considerable investment experience, it would not have been suitable to invest in high risk unregulated investments.  

If you invested with in one of these high risk schemes, then contact us today on 0800 061 4585 to see if you are eligible to put a claim in.

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