Signatory requirement saves SSAS client from pensions scam

Published by James Jones-Tinsley on

Our expert

  • James Jones-Tinsley

    James Jones-Tinsley

    Self-Invested Technical Specialist

  • A pension scam warning about how we saved two SSAS clients £100,000 without them doing anything - because our signature was needed to action the transaction.

    We are often asked why Barnett Waddingham insists on being a mandatory signatory for the bank accounts of our Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS) clients. What follows is a true story of how two of our SSAS clients – a husband and wife - were saved from losing their entire pension savings thanks to the fact that we were a mandatory signatory to their pension scheme bank account. 

    The married couple had sold their company and so no longer had a need for a SSAS. For all the right reasons, their financial adviser recommended a transfer to a personal pension for each of them. All assets in the SSAS - totalling around £100,000 - were liquidated.

    We emailed the clients suggesting they pay the transfers by means of pension scheme cheques to avoid the bank’s Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) charges. The husband contacted us the following Monday to enact the suggestion made in the email that he had received over the weekend from Barnett Waddingham, advising him to ‘change tack’ and instead make the payments to a bank account; the details of which were given in the email.   

    "As a result of Barnett Waddingham being a mandatory signatory to all transactions on the pension scheme bank account, the clients saved £100,000"

    As you can probably already guess, although the email the husband received over the weekend appeared to be from Barnett Waddingham - that was not the case. A scammer had hacked his email account and emailed him, instructing the couple to make the payment into the scammer’s bank account. The scammer’s email address was masked to look as if it had come from Barnett Waddingham.   

    If the clients had been sole signatories on their pension scheme bank account, they could have paid all their pension savings to the scammer’s bank account over the weekend and would, in all likelihood, never have seen their savings again. As a result of Barnett Waddingham being a mandatory signatory to all transactions on the pension scheme bank account, the clients saved £100,000 by not being able to take any action over the weekend.

    We read about cybercrime almost every day. It’s sobering to think that there are people out there who could actually be reading your emails unbeknown to you, and trying to steal your hard-earned pension savings. So should you ever feel frustrated about the perceived inconvenience of having Barnett Waddingham as a mandatory signatory on your SSAS bank account, remember this tale - and how much you could actually be saving!

    Mark Pipe contributed to the writing of this case study.