How Scam man and Robbin’ won the world’s first Scamathon


Scams are a worry, and not just to those who’ve been scammed.

At the world’s first Scamathon , Pension Bee’s new NED, Michelle Cracknell told us it could happen to any of us – indeed it had happened to her.

Walking down Cheapside this morning (in a disconsolate mood), she’d been stopped by a young lady selling makeover days. Michelle knew she shouldn’t but she did. Not only did she sign up but she did that half-knowing she was being dumb. Not only did she guiltily hand over her credit card details but she took a “free-pack” for a friend. I’ve got Michelle down as pretty savvy, resilient and firm.

She doesn’t take any nonsense from me. So why did she fall prey to a scammer on the day?

For Michelle it was down to the peculiar circumstances of that day, and though the damage won’t last her a lifetime, she understood “vulnerability” in personal not abstract terms.

Personal not abstract

I got a lot out of my day in Stratford and it was all about understanding vulnerability , not in an abstract but a personal sense. I don’t now think of others as vulnerable , but of the vulnerability in me of which I sense two types. First the type Michelle talked of, the insecurity that can grip us on an occasional basis that leaves us open to deceit; secondly, the cockiness that make us feel invincible, and can lead us and others into calamity. Which is why it was so very good to spend the day in teams.

I am sure my team was nothing special , but it felt special to me – spending time with Joe from Quietroom, Alana from Smart Pensions , Sophie “the brains” from Nutmeg and the boss – Lucy from Pension Bee. At one point I felt quite lost facing their youthful energy, Sophie told me not to be so stupid, they needed my experience as much as I needed their innovation.

But to see these two  problems of vulnerability through a variety of eyes, as the team allowed me to, helped our team – and I’m very pleased to say we came up with a winning solution. Not that all the solutions we saw weren’t bloody brilliant.

Together we came up with four quite different answers to a simple question, “how do you get people to simulate being scammed, in a game”.

Gaming scams.

The idea of the game comes from the University of Bournemouth who have done some of the best research on financial scams.

Screenshot 2019-11-30 at 07.01.06.png

The picture is of a society increasingly at risk of being scammed as scammers get smarter and we lose our cognitive faculties.

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BU at Glasto

Bournemouth University had taken a game of “Scams and Ladders” to Glastonbury Festival in 2017. The board was on show at the event yesterday.

Scams and ladders

but I can’t find any details on the web – so you’ll have to make do with the AgeWage version , which I promise we came up with entirely independently (though it looks remarkably similar)!

agewage snakes and ladders

The AgeWage version of the scams and ladders game

I’m afraid that it’s going to take something a little more engaging and relevant than this game for anti-scam game-ware to go viral.

ScamMan and Robbin’ – going viral?

I can’t say that the six hours or so we spent sorting out the kind of three minute game you could play off your SMPI statement (if you got it digitally).

Details of the game are top-secret and have been passed to the coders. You will be hearing more from Pension Bee on this shortly, but trust Romi Savova to spot and publish the genesis of our dark secret

Thanks to Romi, Rachel and all the Pension Bee team for setting this up, thank the judges, Margaret Snowden, Stephanie Hawthorne and Michelle Cracknell and thank Barclays for the use of their Hear East facility and to all the observers like Phil Castle and Oliver Payne, who came to find out.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to How Scam man and Robbin’ won the world’s first Scamathon

  1. Margaret Snowdon says:

    It was a pleasure to be there as a judge and to hear and see the results of the hard work from all the teams. There were some really great ideas. It was good to see a mix of ages grappling with the issues of pension scams

  2. Phil Castle says:

    It was good to see the teams so engaged in what they were doing to address such an important subject. I look forward to seeing the final coded result, something to play on my phone on the train next time I go to London.

  3. Pingback: Holding the thin blue line on pensions | AgeWage: Making your money work as hard as you do

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