12/07/2023 |

Expats beware: protecting members from overseas scammers

At BTPS, we work hard to stop potential fraudsters stealing from you by scamming you out of your hard-earned pension. These con artists change their tactics all the time. A current trend involves targeting expat members of defined benefit pension schemes, to try and convince them to transfer their pension benefits out into new ‘investment opportunities’.

Typically, fraudsters are targeting expats in their 50s and early 60s who are planning for their retirement. They try to persuade these overseas members to transfer out their valuable pension into more ‘high performing and flexibly accessible investment arrangements’ that, in reality, directly benefit the scammer and are likely to destroy the value of the member’s pension.

These scams can look legitimate to even the most financially sophisticated members, so it’s important to be vigilant and to know what questions to ask to help you identify a scam, or potential scam, if you are approached.

Read this five minute case study of a recent scam attempt we were able to alert the member to, and stop in time, to see one example of how they operate:

Remember, if you are approached by anyone purporting to be a financial adviser or retirement consultant, please be extra vigilant, particularly if you live overseas. Follow our guide on do’s and don'ts when it comes to your retirement planning and understand where you can go for expert, impartial guidance.


  • Do get independent advice from a regulated and authorised UK-based IFA if you are considering transferring your defined benefit (DB) pension.
  • Do verify who your adviser is – check the FCA directory for advisers authorised and regulated by the FCA.
  • Do be wary if your adviser refers you on to other advisers, particularly if they are in the same company or an associated company.
  • Do consider using BT's retirement advice arrangement.
  • Do be suspicious if your adviser claims your pension would make you more money, or you would have more control, if you transfer out.
  • Do walk away if the adviser offers to refund your fee for financial advice if the transfer goes ahead.


  • Don't respond to advisers who breach UK transfer Law by approaching you out of the blue, by phone, on LinkedIn or using other social media.
  • Don't be fooled with promises of guaranteed high performance or investment returns. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Don't pay high fees to move your money.
  • Don't think it’s OK if your adviser offers to complete the paperwork for you or ‘coaches’ you on the responses you should give when your UK pension provider asks you questions about your reasons for transferring.
  • Don't trust your adviser just because someone you know has used them before.

Protect yourself and your pension. Check out the guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority at fca.org.uk/scamsmart.