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Monday, March 20th, 2023, 5:19 am

Standard Life Has in Effect Legitimised Business Fraud

Standard Life Logo
Official ‘Standard Life’ paperwork (issued by Standard Life) was used to legitimise fraud for over half a decade

Summary: It’s starting to look more and more like pension providers in the UK, including some very major and large ones, are aiding criminals who steal money from their workers under the guise of “pensions”

THIS site isn’t about my work colleagues at Sirius ‘Open Source’. As explained this past month, this supposedly “Open Source” (not anymore!) company that was one of the FSF’s early sponsors stole a lot of money from employees, myself included. This is now a criminal matter. Several managers knew what was happening; they stole money from many of us and we will put them behind bars if possible (one of them has fled to the United States already).

The pension providers are culpable too, as we shall explain in the habitual updates (maybe once or twice per week).

Former colleagues also chase the matter. “Any progress on this?” I asked this month. “Did you file for review or something to that effect?”

As it turns out, pension providers are stonewalling. They try hard to not get involved in these crime investigations. As if ignoring the victims is a wise strategy. It’s not. It just makes them look complicit in cover-up. The person I blame the most is Leah Brown at Standard Life. For many weeks she kept saying “my hands are tied”, refusing to tell me what had actually happened. She’s a manager, so one cannot just report her to a manager. Leah Brown has made Standard Life look like part of the crime and there might be a class action lawsuit on the way. We just try to gather a list of people willing to participate in it (sharing the cost of litigation).

“Do you have contact details of other past workers?” I asked. “I’m sure quite a few had this pension and haven’t been keeping up with its status.”

Over the past month I spoke to more former workers than I can count. Some aren’t surprised by this corruption; their view of the company was already mostly negative. Most of them left years ago.

We recently found out that the exisiting CEO of Sirius (last man standing so to speak) now tries to do the job of the engineers… and is failing at it… as they left. The former CEO left too. This cheats the customers of the company as they paid for actual engineers to look after their servers. I find that situation similar to Mozilla. Maybe Madame Baker can try to develop Mozilla Firefox, but she never even did a “hello world!” program and she’s almost hitting pension age. Just like the CEO who has just left…

Did the Sirius ‘US’ (no such thing) CEO bag bribes from Bill Gates with one hand while plundering the pensions of past staff with his other hand? Stay tuned to find out… we shall get to the bottom of this. Famous last words for Sirius: we don’t need no stickin’ engineers, just some slush funds from a criminal like Bill Gates under an NDA!

Earlier this month I published “How Poorly Standard Life Has Dealt With Pension Fraud” and it cannot be stressed strongly enough that it seems like many pension companies are the same. I contacted Standard Life managers 3 times already (by phone) and I am being obstructed; colleagues tried to do the same, several times in fact, and report that they never receive a reply. They cannot even speak to anyone!

The CEO has just left the company. So who’s going to be held accountable for theft? Sirius is now, in effect, run 100% by a financial fugitive who escapes many liabilities. Any questions asked about the past are obstructed and met with stonewalling; any questions about the present, or even those who sought reassurances about the pension, are going unanswered or people are being lied to, respectively. This is a severe systemic failure.

I spoke to the company (Sirius) and so did colleagues; the company refuses to even answer very simpler questions! I still have all the paperwork from Standard Life and all the payslips to show money was ‘paid’ to Standard Life every month for over 5 years (or so they told me; it was embezzled). Recently, someone who knows Standard Life very well told me this is “theft” and my money is “stolen” by Standard Life (or in their name). I’ve already contacted the media and spoke among former colleagues about a class action lawsuit against Standard Life. It was only at that point that Standard Life started to become more cooperative. Nothing bothers Standard Life except its public image.

For several of us, some legally-savvy (I have access to an uncle who is a judge and who advised me to enroll when he heard of the Standard Life pension in 2011; back when I had lengthy discussions with him about it), the matter won’t end due to stonewalling. They cannot tire us down. My uncle feels betrayed too; it is him who convinced me to join, unlike other people whom I asked.

A the moment I am told the case is being chased by a manager called Laura Johnston (Standard Life) after escalation from Karen Liddle, who works below her level.

For the sake of transparency, here’s the latest on this:

Laura Johnston wrote on 14/03/2023 20:07:

Good Afternoon Dr. Schestowitz.

Apologies that I have not reached out before now.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to report so far but have reached out to the team who are dealing with this for an update.

Once I have an update from them I will be in touch.

Thank you for your patience,

I responded:

I waited for you to get back to me till 5PM yesterday and then recorded a video on this issue (as I had not heard back):
More in

I look forward to hearing of any progress. Clients of the company are contacting me, this week expressing sympathy. The company will soon have no clients and no business to even track down, so you must hurry. This really should have progressed months ago when I first contacted Mrs. Brown several times (a manager at your company). Or when colleagues sent detailed E-mails to you (those always went unanswered).

She has not responded since then (5 days have passed). She wrote “good afternoon” at 7 minutes past 8PM, so there’s a certain sense or feeling that she’s not being too honest. As if to pretend it was done within the reasonable timeframe. Remember she already failed to respond to me “today” (as she said she would 7 days earlier).

This does not look good at all for Standard Life. What should have been a trivial case of fraud (with papers and everything to prove it) isn’t progressing. Or barely (nearly 3 months already!).

Minutes ago I followed up:

Can I please have an update on this? I cannot stress strongly enough that this is a matter of great urgency, implicating many people, and we have already lost 2 months due to your slow response. Your delays have given time for fraudsters to adapt and curtail prosecution. We have evidence to prove this.

When people come to think of it, if she phoned before 5PM as she said she would, a lot of this escalation would not be needed. For instance, no person at Standard Life would be named and Standard Life itself would never be mentioned here. The bottom line is, Standard Life increasingly seems unwilling to deal with crime done in its name.

So the pattern that emerges is, pension providers lie, obstruct, and even cover up for people who abuse their system. This is really awful. On a separate day we’ll get back to NOW:Pension, another pension provider that provided awful service and isn’t progressing in the fraud investigation.

One day they may have to compensate us for all this trouble — us as in past workers who were plundered… like people who already have some other job, needing to spend weeks if not months chasing this rogue/criminal nonsense. Some former workers are very angry and some might lose sleep over it. More so knowing and seeing that the pension providers are mostly apathetic and only respond when the reputation is on the line. They don’t truly mind this ‘underworld’ as long as the media doesn’t report/talk about it.

Friday, March 17th, 2023, 2:44 am

Speaking to NOW: Pensions About a Corrupt Employer

Video download link | md5sum 9dcf3def0c8beb1a166c52b5ded8b299
Chatting to the Pension Boss About Sirius
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Further to yesterday’s update on Sirius ‘Open Source’ and its “Pensiongate” we can gladly report some progress following escalation to management; this is about tech and “Open Source” employees facing abuse at work, even subjected to crimes

THE Sirius series isn’t quite over and we expect a lot more to be published about the pensions. Expect this to spill over to April as well.

When I started the series in December I didn’t know how deep the rabbit hole would go; it pains me to know that myself and my colleagues got robbed.

Our solid plan to publish some EPO documents (earlier today) have thus been delayed somewhat; today we’ve instead devoted a lot of time to Sirius coverage.

Skyfall's upload imageThe gist of the video above is (it mended up a bit like a podcast of the pension fund’s manager and myself), they now reckon they failed to provide a good service, they recognise the severity of the matter, and things will — or at least should — be progressing a lot faster from now on.

The saddest thing in all this is (there is a lot), it took me almost 3 hours on the phone (I pay for these calls) to finally get to the boss and we’ve already lost about 3 months while Sirius was hiding itself and hiding what’s left of it. This really should have progressed months ago, but NOW: Pensions was uncooperative and unattentive. Since January it kept lying to me and to my wife, who has a plan there too.

Thursday, March 16th, 2023, 7:54 pm

NOW: Pensions Won’t Let Me Have My Money, Fails to Apologise for Months of Lying

Video download link | md5sum f78431fd89771a7ee494f43d13e16fb5
34 Minutes With Now Pensions (NOW: Pensions)
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The “Pensiongate” of Sirius ‘Open Source’ (the company which embezzled/robbed many workers for years) helps reveal the awful state of British pension providers, which are in effect enabling the embezzlement to carry on while lying to their clients

THE video above shows how in the company NOW: Pensions “customer” “support” staff is basically just a ‘shield’, making it virtually impossible to speak to people who can progress/resolve things. In a very Kafkaesque fashion they try to pass me from one person to another person without actually making any real progress. No apologies, no information, no reaction.

As it turns out this week, it can be more or less the same in the United States, so it seems like a global issue, a universal pattern.

The recording above was made only after months of frustration and a waste of money, not just time. NOW: Pensions lied to me repeatedly; they already have a history of misconduct and judging by the quality of their service (or disservice) they might go under again — as they did before (until some other company bought them). As per British law, there are cases where pensions can be redeemed early, with up to 55% tax in case of ‘unauthorised withdrawals’ (before age 55). But advisors are spreading misinformation for their own benefit/interests. It also seems clear that redeeming depositors’ money is made incredibly hard. That’s a design flaw, an intentional barrier.

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023, 2:06 am

Standard Life Making False Promises About Cracking Down on Pension Fraud and Embezzlement

Video download link | md5sum 6e89d71f88131559a0e06773ecfefd81
The Standard Cover-up
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Standard Life lied to me about investigating fraud committed in their name; to make matters worse, upon contacting them one week later (after they were supposed to get back to me) they’re still not escalating, not even getting in touch, and victims of embezzlement are running out of patience, having already lose their pensions

THE above video gives some background and plays back a conversation I had today with Standard Life. It’s a continuation of the long video (and notes) from 2 days ago. I had the phone with me throughout the above recording and Standard Life simply failed to phone me. They had already failed to contact me a week ago as the manager promised. It certainly starts looking like a pattern.

This time I play the audio without hiding the names of those accountable. Readers/viewers can probably understand why we name them publicly after months of wasted efforts and hours on the phone. The short story is, Standard Life is failing to hold people accountable, knowing embezzlement affected a lot of people. Some time in the next few days we shall explain the significance of this and the ramifications. This passivity isn’t acceptable.

Monday, March 13th, 2023, 2:35 am

Audio: Sirius Never Paid the Pension Provider, Staff Was in Effect Defrauded

Video download link | md5sum fadf7fcdfd1c9473e9ab4e8ebfed252e
Sirius Pension Crimes
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ has stolen money of many workers; today we share audio of management at the pension provider admitting behaviour to that effect

THE news will be full of discussions about banks later today. People cannot access their own accounts, businesses cannot pay their workers, and — as just noted — two or three banks have already been suspended (some over the weekend). The time seems right to continue with our series about how Sirius plundered not just my pension but also colleagues’ or, as it seems on the surface, put the pension money in its own pockets (I can think of 3 people who conspired to do this) instead of a pension fund, in effect embezzling workers and falsifying payslips. As readers may recall from December, there were incidents of payslips not being sent out at all (for long periods of time, including for months before I resigned).

Over the next few weeks we’ll share more information about what happened. The lesson for the general public is, check whether what employers say about pensions is true and get in contact with pension providers to verify you’re not being lied to (validation of claims is imperative).

Of all the payslips I do have, in about 60 of them I have evidence of pensions being contributed to; but that’s false, as the company did not pass the money and former colleagues were similarly embezzled. Played out in the video above (from a 55-minute audio) is 0-1:20, 1:50-, 2:30-5:40, 11:50-20:00, 21:18-22:08, 22:15-, 26:30-36:30, 39:40-, 41:55-51:00, 51:10-. I basically skip the pauses (waiting on the line), some personally-identifying details/codes and towards the end I note that even though the manager said she’d contact me “today” (6 days ago) it never happened. They don’t seem to consider embezzlement impacting many employees important enough to deal with (just yet). Seeing the nature of the news right now (failing banks), it’ll probably be hard to compel them to prioritise our case at this time.

In some ways it feels like 2008 re-enacted, except now they blame Russia, China, pandemic, “crypto” etc. As for Sirius, the company will probably vanish soon. Will any of the managers who conspired to steal money be prosecuted (or held accountable some other way)?

Friday, March 10th, 2023, 3:51 pm

Unearthing Crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’

Video download link | md5sum c00ff3859f267c20af0e44af8b6a439c
The Series on Sirius Crimes
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Today we start a string of videos and short texts about the company my wife and I left in December (we resigned just over 3 months ago); as it turns out, the company had been committing crimes for years before we left

THE “Pensiongate” mini-series is becoming a lot more extensive and far longer than we first estimated. We find out more and more things as one scandal helps unfold another. As such, this morning we started a dedicated Wiki page, Crimes of Sirius Open Source — a complementary subset of Sirius ‘Open Source’, which started back in December.

The video above explains the motivation and emphasises that we’ll try to cover this a lot in the form of videos, delivering perhaps a dozen more parts, including bits of evidence. Video will be a convenient means by which to deliver the material in a privacy-respecting matter.

It’s sort of sad that we’ve come to this, but if you deal with people who defrauded not only you but also your colleagues, then it becomes imperative to speak out and do something about it. Some people have asked me to pursue a legal opinion on this. As a side note, several people say they love the term “Mr. Kink”, which does not infringe anyone’s privacy yet says a lot.

The journey required to write the series is mostly free — free as in beer/gratis. The material is in the public domain, e.g. the Companies House. It’s free. Except all the times we phoned pension providers — quite an expensive endeavour when you do it for 2-3 months. The upside is that along the way we learned a lot about how the system works and how it is abused. It’s cheaper to learn that on one’s own. For instance, when my wife and I demand the money from both our accounts the providers are pretending it’s not possible (it is; with the high tax applied) and if they say no, or intentionally mislead clients, one can threaten to sue (we shared a record to show how they obstruct people who exercise their legal rights). But upon further inspection it turned out to be a lot worse because the money had already been stolen. So where is all that money now? Put aside and used for the 4-person DisneyWorld trips?

Thursday, March 9th, 2023, 3:13 pm

When You Report a Crime to the Police (and You’re Not Very Rich and/or Famous)

Video download link | md5sum 8f727fe7c8e05b24b7df5efabd365817
The Police Ping-Pong
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

I recently became aware that money had been stolen from me. It was confirmed to me some days ago. I decided to report this to the authorities; failing to do so may result in any remaining money vanishing from the thieves’ account. The video above does not go into the details of the case (like this series about Sirius ‘Open Source’); instead it explains how the police handles the report.

Sadly, even in 2023 the police is looking for ‘low-grade’ thugs and people it can apprehend in the streets, not business people that it can arrest at their office. The police believes and trusts money. Culture is very much the same. “I saw X on TV, X is not in prison, hence X is probably innocent” is false logic when it comes to high-profile people, who rarely get arrested because they simply “own” the system and have expensive lawyers.

Cops are good at arresting poor people, whom they deem rather defenseless and easier to convict. But this leads to a sense of helplessness for victims of crime where the perpetrator is rich and powerful. Sometimes the cops are almost making them feel “guilty” for reporting white-collar crime because this “wastes time”; it’s not a simple physical job like arresting a person after forcibly knocking that person to the ground, based on nothing at all; I saw that done by a cop from my window just months ago… attacking an innocent bystander and then arresting him for apparently nothing. I wish I had this recorded. I wanted to report this (yes, reporting cops’ misbehaviour to the police itself), but I could not find suitable contacts.

My deep cynicism about cops isn’t new and it was the result of experiences that I covered here before. It ranges from tactless to truly irresponsible. For instance, their failure to despatch people to deal with an actual crime likely resulted in the perpetrators proceeding to yet more crimes. Basically they don’t help when it’s truly needed and I’ve experienced this firsthand, it’s not based on hearsay. This scenario is unacceptable; it’s very frustrating and disappointing because we pay them! We pay their salaries and their performance (or returns to us) does not seem to matter much.

In the above video what I have is the police (on the line) passing me from one person to another person and then the police asking me to phone the police. There’s also a barrier which serves to keep out the poor (no access to police) due to financial constraints. Think along the lines of, “too poor to report the crime”…

They’re taking advantage of that; they’re making poverty a curse and wealth a prerequisite for “access to cops”.

The crime that I reported to them is a real crime and not very outlandish. But this sort of scenario is not in the ‘script’, so they pass me on and on; passing from one colleague to another colleague is a hallmark of incompetence — the thing I experienced in the past. And just like cyberattacks 15+ years ago, these people don’t know what I’m talking about. They’re trained to just deal with very basic things; yes, they listen, but they do not actually solve crimes and punish the perpetrators.

What kind of system is this? Towards the end it feels like they convery a message like, “get off the line, you’re too poor to matter to us, your taxpayer-funded police is there to guard the rich and powerful” (and you’re not important enough).

We’re going round and round and they look for excuses to dismiss or redirect the report. For instance, they cannot refer me to the suitably-trained division (like they’re different “companies”). Why should I phone people in the City of London to report a trivial case of theft?

What if I was poor, confused, insecure, shy, confused/traumatised and barely literate? Being eloquent isn’t enough either, as confidence isn’t the same as wealth or “importance”.

Anyway, this time (for the first time) I documented my experience with the police in the form of audio.

It’s a problem not unique to the UK. As a friend reminded me this morning: “Louis Rossmann has started a series on trying to get some state agency to clarify or fix its records. The process goes beyond byzantine and is really more Kafkaesque. It’s not that the New York state is so clueless that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, the individual hands don’t even know themselves what they are doing. The recordings he provides are really strange and if they are in anyway representative of the population then the US has collapsed already…

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