Leading UK pentechs join forces to launch online game Scam Man & Robbin'

Rachael Oku

by , VP Brand and Communications

29 Apr 2020 /  

Apr 2020

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London, 29 April 2020: Four of the UK’s leading digital pension platforms have collaborated to create an engaging new online game that aims to educate consumers about pension scams in response to a spike in online fraud.

The launch of Scam Man & Robbin’ follows a Hackathon hosted by PensionBee in November, which brought together brilliant minds from across the UK’s “pentech” industry. The Hackathon challenged teams to create an online concept that raises awareness of pension scams in both an engaging and educational way.

Over the past four months, AgeWage, Smart Pension and Nutmeg have worked alongside PensionBee and technology partner JMAN Group to turn the winning concept into a reality, creating an engaging and shareable five-minute game that aims to tackle the rapid increase in pension scams.

Scam Man & Robbin’ casts the player in the role of ‘Scam Man’, a vigilante whose main objective is to protect people’s pensions from scams. Scam Man must correctly identify six of the most common pension scams by shining his torch on them to destroy them, as well as collecting six corresponding bonuses that can help protect savers’ pensions. Each level gets progressively harder, challenging some common misconceptions which may initially seem positive about a pension scheme, such as guaranteed high returns or an offer of free advice, but may in fact be the hallmarks of a scam.

The launch of Scam Man & Robbin’ comes as Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, announced in March that coronavirus-related fraud reports had increased by 400%. Indeed, the number of pension scams has soared since the beginning of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, as opportunistic scammers attempt to exploit savers experiencing serious financial strain and looking to access their savings. Research from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pension Scams shows that with more people staying at home, in line with social distancing and lockdown restrictions, it’s much more likely that pension savers will be contacted by scammers via phone or online.

To help highlight the new risks that face pension savers of all ages, a coronavirus-specific scam has been included within Scam Man & Robbin’, warning consumers against moving a pension to a fund that guarantees coronavirus protection and high returns during periods of economic uncertainty. Other scams featured in the game include cold calls, early pension release and pressure to make an immediate decision.

To find out more and to play Scam Man & Robbin’, visit scam-man.com.

Margaret Snowdon OBE, President of the Pensions Administration Standards Association and Chairman of the Pension Scams Industry Group said: “At the Hackathon Scam Man & Robbin’ was chosen as the winning concept as it met our three judging criteria of virality, engagement and relevance head on. I’m pleased to say that the resulting game has surpassed all of our expectations and I have no doubt it will be a useful tool in helping to raise awareness, and protect those who know nothing about pension scams and the over-confident alike.”

Michelle Cracknell CBE, Non-Executive Director at PensionBee and former CEO of the Pensions Advisory Service, commented: “As recent studies have shown, anyone can fall victim to a pension scam, regardless of age or level of education. Scammers are increasingly sophisticated criminals who prey on savers simply seeking to make the most of their money in a confusing pensions world. Scam Man & Robbin’ has the potential to go a long way towards raising awareness and educating consumers of the pension scam warning signs. We’re thrilled to have successfully united some of the biggest innovators in pensions to bring this idea to life and are confident we can solve the problem of pension scams if the industry continues to work together.”


The scale of the problem

In 2019 The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) released research showing that 42% of pension savers, (the equivalent of over 5 million people across the UK), could be at risk of falling for a scam. It estimated the average loss to be £82,000 per victim, which equates to around 22 years of pension savings.

The same research also found that the more highly educated a person, the more likely they are to fall for a pension scam, due to overconfidence. Those with a university degree were found to be 40% more likely to accept a free pension review from a company they did not know, and 21% were more likely to accept an offer of early access to their pension. Of those surveyed, 24% admitted to taking 24 hours or less to decide on a pension offer.

About Scam Man & Robbin’

In November 2019 PensionBee organised a Pension Scams Hackathon, inviting representatives from the UK’s most ambitious digital pension platforms to combine their skills and develop the concept for a game that educates consumers about pension scams.

The winning concept, Scam Man & Robbin’, was chosen for its retro design, the concept of “shining a light on scams” and choosing a vigilante as the protagonist, rather than a scammer or victim. The Hackathon was inspired by “Scams and Ladders”, an investment scams board game, created by Emily Rosenorn-Lanng and Dr Sally Lee of Bournemouth University’s National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice (NCPQSW), led by Professor Keith Brown.

Scam Man & Robbin’ was built by JMAN Group, using BabylonJS, a lightweight javascript based WebGL game engine library. Inspired by one of the world’s most-loved superheroes, Scam Man & Robbin’ has a distinctly retro feel which is reflected in the sound effects and pixel art visuals. While fighting pension scams is a brand new concept for an online game, the central mechanic of collecting coins, and use of familiar devices such as invincibility bonuses, is universal, helping to create a sense of nostalgia.

Scam Man & Robbin’ is designed for consumers of all ages and gamers and non-gamers alike, balancing educational scams content with a narrative that’s fun and entertaining from start to finish.

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