Warning issued after nurse loses £45,000 in pension fraud

Seek impartial guidance before transferring pension savings, regulator warns after unravelling cruel scam whose victims included nurse of more than 40 years
Pauline Padden

Seek impartial guidance before transferring pension savings, regulator warns after unravelling cruel scam whose victims included nurse of more than 40 years

Nurse Pauline Padden

A nurse was conned out of £45,000 in a pension scam that offered a better deal but robbed her of prospects of retirement.

Pauline Padden, a critical care nurse of more than 40 years, was a victim of a high-value pension liberation fraud that operated between 2012 and 2014. She was among hundreds of members of legitimate occupational pension schemes who were persuaded to transfer their pension savings into scam pension schemes

Following a prosecution brought by the Pensions Regulator (TPR), Alan Barratt, from Essex, and Susan Dalton, from Lancashire, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 22 April after admitting charges of fraud by abuse of position arising from their roles as trustees of pension schemes.

Text offered a better deal and a cash payment for transferring her pension pot

Based in a call centre in Spain, the pair had acted as principal points of contact for several victims of the fraud, the TPR said. Mr Barratt was jailed for five years and seven months, while Ms Dalton received a prison term of four years and eight months.

The court heard that they were key participants in the scam, which saw 245 people transfer an average of £55,000 each into fraudulent accounts, amounting to a total value of £13.7 million.

Ms Padden, from Merseyside, was looking after her terminally ill mother when she received a text offering her a better deal on her pension and a cash payment in return for transferring her pension pot.

She agreed to move her funds from her workplace pension scheme into something called the Gresham Investment Pension Scheme in the hope it would mean more security in her retirement.

Unlikely that any pension funds will be restored, says regulator

But six months later the mother-of-three received a letter saying she had lost £45,000 to the scam, which she says has robbed her of the prospect of ever retiring.

The TPR appointed independent trustees to review the fraudulent scheme’s investments and assets, but said: ‘It became apparent that it was very unlikely that any pension funds would be restored for scheme members.’

Ms Padden said: ‘I did this to try and make my retirement easier, but I’ve been left high and dry. My children are worried and angry as they know I have worked so hard. They ask me why I’m not giving up work. I tell them that I can’t – I cannot afford to live.

‘While friends and family talk about retiring I will probably have to keep working until I’m no longer fit to do so. When I think about it, I get panicky. What am I going to do? There is nothing I can do.’

Advice is to reject unexpected pension offers and check who you are dealing with

TPR executive director for front-line regulation Nicola Parish said people should always be careful when making a decision to transfer pensions. If you are thinking of doing so you should contact MoneyHelper, part of the Money and Pensions Service, for impartial guidance first, or ScamSmart.

TPR says anyone is at risk of pension scams, but the group most likely to be targeted are those aged 45-65 years.

The organisations recommends people to reject unexpected pension offers and check who they are dealing with to make sure they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If you suspect you have been contacted by a pension scammer report it to the ActionFraud website or phone 0300-123-2040.

Other scams to watch out for

HMRC has also warned against phone calls, texts and emails offering spurious tax rebates, bogus COVID grants or threatening arrest for unpaid tax. If you receive one of the above you should:

  • Search for scams on the website for advice on how to recognise a genuine HMRC contact
  • Forward suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599 and emails to
  • Report tax scam phone calls on
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen victim to a scam, and report it to ActionFraud (in Scotland, contact the police on 101)

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