Would-be expat couple lose everything due to minor mistake

Published:  12 Dec at 6 PM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
One easily-made financial error has wrecked a retired would-be expat couple’s dream.

Even with warnings plastered across expat-aimed online media sites about the risk of losing pension pots to financial scammers, it seems it’s also far too easy to lose a lifetime’s savings to a company fully registered with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. One retired couple hoping to relocate to Portugal found this out the hard way after making just one small but crucial error.

The now defunct and infamous FCA-approved online currency exchange firm Premier FX specialised in currency conversions for British expats living overseas and those planning to emigrate. The recently retired couple were planning to move to Portugal and spend their retirement years in a warmer climate with a lower cost of living and affordable housing. Their life savings of £270,000 sterling were lodged with the company in order to be converted to euros when needed, as they’d made an offer on a Portuguese house they’d fallen in love with on a previous visit.

After their offer was accepted, they transferred €22,000 as a deposit on the house as is legally required under Portuguese law, and continued to transfer their pension pot for another four months, at which time the bottom fell out of their dream. Out of the blue, they received an email from Premier Fx informing them the firm had ceased trading, leaving them totally in the dark about their life savings. They’re now aware they’ve lost the entire amount, and are still waiting to hear from the administrators regarding the return of at least some of their money.

Their initial mistake was easy to make – they’d assumed that registration with the FCA automatically meant their cash was covered by the government’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). It’s an understandable error for those unaccustomed to financial matters, but many people don’t realise how important it is for the security of their money. However, even had the services provided by Premier FX been authorised as compatible by the financial watchdog, the couple would only have been entitled to £170,000, leaving them £100,000 out of pocket. It transpired that the FSCS scheme doesn’t cover money remittances – the only service authorised to be provided by Premier Fx.

It’s a horrendous example of how financial firms take advantage of unsuspecting expatriate customers, knowing full well they stand a good chance of getting away with it. Pensioners are an easy mark, either for companies such as Premier FX or the unlicensed, unqualified and often illegally-working IFAs lurking in expat retirement hubs across the world. This sad tale is just a new twist on literally thousands of financial scandals perpetrated on unsuspecting expat retirees over the last decade, very few of whom have seen even a small percentage of their lost savings returned, and highlights the crucial importance of checking and double checking before trusting any financial firm with your hard-earned cash.
Like this news?

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Latest Headlines

News Links

News Archive