22nd October 2015
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a new trend in consumers being targeted for investment opportunities in parking spaces at locations close to major airports.
The scam involves the unregulated sale of individual parking spaces at airports as an investment for private pension funds.
It shares the hallmarks of other recent pension scams, involving cold calling and the promise of high, guaranteed returns on assets.
This latest Fraud Bureau warning comes hard on the heels of DWP Select Committee warning of possible pension misselling on the back of the new pension freedoms.
The NFIB said common features of this new scam involve members of the public receiving unsolicited calls from forceful sales people offering an opportunity to invest in parking spaces or promoting it as a “sound pension investment”.
In addition, people may even get verbal and written promises of a guaranteed and questionable high rate of return. A buy-back scheme is also offered but there is absolutely no guarantee of an onward sale – as previously experienced by consumers involved in time-share properties, for example.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “The pension freedoms have undoubtedly been a good thing, however the lure of large sums of newly accessible pension money is inevitably attracting unscrupulous fraudsters out to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense.
“Like other scams such as property development, overseas investments and storage pods, the sales pitch can sound seductive. Investors should never trust cold-callers and critically, they should only deal with regulated businesses. FCA regulation gives investors the security of dealing with a well-managed business, as well as a compensation scheme if something goes wrong.”
Hargreaves Lansdown urged that it would like to see a “more robust distinction made between FCA supervised businesses selling regulated investments, which very rarely result in poor outcomes for investors, and these unregulated salesmen who seem to be able to operate with impunity”.
McPhail added: “Policymakers should look at developing a kitemark or logo for regulated businesses and investments to help potential victims to identify a possible scam. This would send a clear message that if you buy an investment without this logo, it could be a scam and would be at your own risk.”
If you feel that you have been mis-sold a financial product, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or by using its online reporting tool.