Duo jailed over £22m pension fraud that robbed victims of a future

Rikki Nicholls, 57, and Mark Kelly, 51, devised an elaborate scheme to persuade hundreds of workers to transfer their savings and then use the money for their own financial gain.

The victims lost between £10,000 and £200,000.

A court heard some had their entire pensions stolen, while others had to continue working to fund their retirement.

Nicholls voluntarily returned from his residence in Dubai and Kelly was arrested for fraud in May 2014.

Scotland Yard detectives have tracked down more than 250 victims across the UK and seized 10,000 documents following a tip from the Financial Services Authority, now the Financial Conduct Authority.

Nicholls and Kelly set up a program called PCD Wealth & Pension Management in 2007 with the goal of moving clients’ pensions into investment funds for growth.

Nicholls, a former Equitable Life employee, obtained details of existing clients whom they then cold called and convinced them to transfer money into a self-invested personal pension controlled by their scheme.

In fact, the couple funneled their victims’ pension money into investment funds that were lucrative for themselves, via high commission payments.

Nicholls, of Linthurst Newtown, Blackwell, Bromsgrove and Kelly, of Maplewood Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and transfer criminal property following a five-month trial before the Southwark Crown Court.

They were sentenced to a total of six years in prison.

One victim, Denis Mountford, from Birmingham, said: ‘When I first found out my pension fund was dwindling rapidly and inaccessible, I was very angry with myself for trusting poor people financial advisors who had taken a high percentage of commission and I was also disgusted by them. .

“I don’t know how anyone can tell if a financial adviser is completely trustworthy except through recommendations from people you can trust and I hope this case will be a warning to others.

“During this period, the lawyers and investigators were very helpful and considerate and gave me confidence in the legal proceedings.”

Detective Superintendent John Roch, head of the Met’s economic crime team, said: ‘The two men smuggled their own financial gain onto the interest of over 250 victims, losing their money and in leaving some in financial ruin, while earning lucrative sums themselves.

“I would ask anyone contacted by a solicitation about an investment to be vigilant.

“Please consider obtaining independent professional advice before making any important financial decision.”

He added: “Many victims are vulnerable due to their age and financial situation, and as a result of the actions of these men, they have found themselves in serious financial difficulty. Many must continue to work to fund their retirement, or retire with less or no pension. These men have caused them so much distress and anxiety.

“I would like to commend the victims for their assistance in this investigation and thank those who testified in court.

“The detectives who worked on this case have distinct areas of expertise and it is through their years of hard work and dedication that we have been successful. I want to salute the tenacity, expertise and professionalism of my collaborators who led to these convictions.

A forfeiture investigation will follow, police said.

CPS’s Jane Mitchell said: ‘The harm caused by these fraudsters is immense, involving raids on victims’ pension pots which have destroyed their future livelihoods and post-retirement plans.

“Many victims have been left without a pension and will have to work well beyond their retirement date to support themselves and their families.”

If you think you have been the victim of fraud or think someone is trying to access your pension you should call Action Fraud – 0300 123 2040.

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