Most of the SMS spam that we see from the UK is related to financial services: payday loans, PPI claims, debt consolidation and pension liberation scams. There are two main variations on the pension liberation scam. One is the high yield scam where the con artist attempts to get the victim to transfer their pension to “high yield” investments, often offshore.
Your Pension may be underperforming & you may not have enough for retirement, for a pension review & how to attain a higher return, reply YES or opt-out.
The high yield investments are high yield for the con men only. The investor may never see his or her funds again. The other type is the lump sum scam where there is a promise of a cash withdrawal from the pension fund before the legal withdrawal age of 55 years.
Hi, as you have a frozen pension, you can get a large cash payment within 4 weeks, to get it started today reply ‘CASH’ to this text.
These scammers do not mention that there will be a huge tax penalty for the early withdrawal, nor do they mention the enormous “management fees” they will withdraw from the pension.
Sometimes the two hooks are combined in a single pitch:
Hold a pension? Frozen or under performing? Receive 16% of the value in cash in just 6 weeks and into scheme returning 14% reply ‘CASH’ for info or stop to opt
Do you want the magic pony or the rainbow unicorn with that?
For the early part of last year we saw low volumes of pension liberation SMS spam, mostly of the high yield variety. Last autumn the volume began to ramp up, and the lump sum pitch started to predominate. However, we saw a decline in volume starting in May of this year.
Let’s take a closer look at that period.
As you can see from the chart the drop off happened on May 9th, which was the day that police raided pension liberation boiler room operations in England and Scotland, and made multiple arrests. In fact we saw a 78% reduction in pension liberation SMS spam from the 30 days before the arrests to the 30 days after.
It just goes to show that an excellent way to stop spam is to lock up the spammers! However the problem has not been completely solved. The life insurance company Phoenix reports that they have actually seen a significant increase in potentially fraudulent pension fund transfer requests since the arrests, so it’s possible that the police action just stopped the deal originators but did not take out the people running the scam, who may well be offshore, or the deals they had in the pipeline. Most of the pension liberation spam we see ask the victim to respond by text, but some have a URL go to. The most common of these URLs we are seeing since the arrests is release-cash.com which is registered to an address in India. While there are very many Indian businesses of the highest integrity and ethical standards, somehow I suspect this is not one of them.
If you receive SMS spam in the UK (or the US), please forward it to 7726 (that’s S-P-A-M on your keypad), where it goes into a world wide spam reporting system.