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The News consumer expert Richard Thomson is warning readers not to be taken in by fraudsters trying to scam them into parting with their private pension savings.

An investigation has revealed a number of people have been phoned or e-mailed by criminals posing as pension providers trying to trick them into handing over their hard-earned savings following changes to the pension rules introduced in April.

Since April 6, people over the age of 55 can cash in their entire private pension pots.

Until the rules were changed savers could only convert them into an annuity, a complex form of savings investment plan to provide a private pension on retirement.

But now people are free to draw out all their pension savings and spend it as they wish.

In the first four months of 2015 regulators estimate more than £500m has been lost to pension fraud.

Mr Thomson is warning anyone approaching retirement to be wary of criminals offering convincing returns on investments.

Once money is transferred to the scammers they risk losing all their pension savings and facing a huge tax bill.

He is advising anyone in danger of falling victim to sophisticated pension scams to follow the advice of the financial Conduct Authority.

n Before you sign anything, call the Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 and check the adviser is qualified and approved

n Don’t be tempted into making an on-the-spot decision

n If you believe you’ve been scammed and accepted an offer, report it immediately to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.