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Duo jailed for £20m pension fraud

|News, Fraud and economic crime

Two scammers have been imprisoned today (15 July 2022) for a pension fraud worth over £20 million which caused many of the victims to lose their entire pensions.

Mark Kelly and Rikki Nicholls have each been sentenced to six years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering at Southwark Crown Court. 

Mark Kelly and Rikki Nicholls devised a plan to persuade pension holders, predominantly Equitable Life customers, to transfer their pensions into accounts controlled by Mark Kelly. The customers were persuaded to sign application forms which had blank sections, later completed by Mark Kelly and Rikki Nicholls.

This enabled the conspirators to take control of the pension funds. Without the knowledge of the victims, funds were placed into high risk and wholly unsuitable offshore investments. These investments provided the defendants with high rates of commission but put the pension funds at risk. A number of those pension funds have subsequently collapsed, resulting in some pension holders losing substantial amounts of their pension provision. Some victims lost their whole pension.

Kelly and Nicholls extracted around 10% of the gross sum in unauthorised commission payments – in excess of £1 million each – for their own benefit.

Jane Mitchell of the CPS said: “The harm caused by these fraudsters is immense, involving raids on the victims’ pension pots which wrecked their future livelihood and post-retirement plans. Many victims were left with no pensions and will have to work well beyond their retirement date to provide for themselves and their families.

“Mark Kelly and Rikki Nicholls cynically misled pension-holders, telling them they would have safe control over their pension funds but actually transferred the funds into high risk investments, without the pension-holders consent or knowledge. The fraudsters did so for their own personal gain, knowing the high-risk investments generated high commissions for them but had no concern for their victims who were losing money they’d worked all their lives for.”

The CPS is committed to work with law enforcement to bring prosecutions where criminals commit fraud and money laundering and to compensate victims wherever possible, through confiscation proceedings. The CPS is also committed to working more widely with banks, businesses, charities and beyond, to help educate others so that they can avoid becoming victims of economic crime.

Notes to editors

  • Jane Mitchell is a Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID).
  • SEOCID was launched on 1 April 2022 and is the CPS response to the changing nature of crime by bringing together specialists in organised and economic crime as the lines in this criminality is being blurred even more.
  • Read the CPS Economic Crime Strategy here.
  • Mark Kelly (DOB: 14/11/1970) was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering at Southwark Crown Court.
  • Rikki Nicholls (DOB: 11/05/1965) was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering at Southwark Crown Court.

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