The victims of a multimillion-pound pension scam which saw them duped out of their life savings have told how it “ruined” their lives and left them “panicky”.
Alan Barratt, 62, of Althorne, Essex, and Susan Dalton, 66, of Rochdale, Lancashire, were on Friday jailed for their roles in a £13.7 million scam in which 245 victims were defrauded.
Pauline Padden, 58, who lost £45,000, told the PA news agency the experience had “brought a lot of negativity and insecurity and anxiety” into her life.
The mother-of-three, who has worked as a critical care nurse in the NHS since she was 18, fell victim to the scam after receiving a text promising higher returns on her pension and bonuses for transferring her current pension funds.
As she was spending much of her time caring for her dying mother in 2013, she was unable to make a steady income and was drawn in by the promise of extra cash.
She said: “I’m 58 and I’ve got no thought at all about retiring and all around me; friends, family, colleagues, they’re all talking about their retirement and what they’re going to do, and I can’t do any of that because that’s been taken from me.
“Whoever did this had every intention of taking it off hard-working people basically. And they have just robbed my retirement from me, it’s gone now.
“I do worry about it a lot, my family are concerned about because they know I worry about it.
“I don’t trust very well because obviously I was scammed in this way so it’s brought a lot of issues into my life that I didn’t have before, which I didn’t think I would have going into my old age.”
Ms Padden found out she had been scammed about six months later when she received a call from a trustee of the Pensions Regulator, which regulates work-based pension schemes in the UK, telling her it was a fraud.
She added: “When I think about it I do get a bit panicky because I think, ‘what am I going to do?’ and there’s absolutely nothing I can do, absolutely nothing, and I’m just left in this helpless position now.”
Father-of-four Stephen O’Reilly said his dream of spending his retirement in Spain and leaving money for his children were dashed after being sucked into the scam around 2013.
The 61-year-old former miner from Doncaster now lives on the Isle of Wight and works in a bookmaker to support himself.
Mr O’Reilly transferred £114,000 to the scammers after being told he was getting a bad deal on his current pension by someone he thought was an independent Government pension adviser.
He said he had requested a review and was referred by the fake adviser to speak to Dalton on the phone, who persuaded him to hand over his savings.
It was not until he came to claim his pension that he found out it was a scam.
Mr O’Reilly was told he was due a lump sum and had ordered a car which he was left desperately trying to find the money for, having to borrow from his mother to pay for it.
He said: “If I could get my hands on them, you’d see. They’ve ruined my life.
“Now I’m just depressed all the time because I know I’m going to have to work the rest of my life because there’s no money there.
“I was going to move to Spain but I can’t now because I haven’t got any money to move in the first place, and I would have to get a job and have enough money to fund myself while I’m finding a job. It’s totally ruined my life.”
Mr O’Reilly, who worked in the mines for 14 years, added: “I averaged probably 80 hours a week and I was putting a lot more money into my pension than anybody else that was there and now it’s all gone.”