The Pensions Regulator has refreshed its hard-hitting Scorpion campaign to tackle the nearly-£500m pension liberation scam problem.
The Scorpion campaign was initially first launched early last year to crack down on the problem of fraudsters encouraging pension savers to unlock their pensions before the legal minimum age of 55 with promises of ready cash.
TPR said pension scheme members were often not warned that if they accessed their pension pot before age 55, they would face high tax charges, while those arranging the transaction would simply 'cream off' a significant percentage as fees.
Officially, it is known that £495m of pension funds has been paid into scams, but this figure could be substantially higher as not all activity is reported, TPR said.
The regulator said its refreshed Scorpion campaign material tries to reinforce the message to consumers not to be stung by cold calls, text message spam or website offers claiming to be able to help them cash in their pension
TRP added that pension scams may sound legitimate but there is a high risk that once members release their funds, their money will be moved into dubious investment arrangements, often overseas and unregulated.
The regulator is urging pension trustees and providers to include the its leaflet on pension liberation fraud in the next annual statement sent to members and anyone who requests a transfer in the meantime.
Pensions minister Steve Webb said: 'Although quick-fix pension release schemes may seem tempting, particularly when times are tough, people should make sure they understand all the implications before they sign on the dotted line.
'A joint industry and government operation is working to stamp out these unethical, exploitative, poor value offers.'
TPR's executive director Andrew Warwick-Thompson highlighted that pension scams remain prevalent and need to be stamped out.
'We have seen victims lose their entire pension savings by signing up to these offers,' he said.