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In Leicestershire more than £330,000 worth of fraud has been prevented by police and bank branch staff in the first half of 2020 through the Banking Protocol.
The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme that enables bank branch staff to alert their local police force when they suspect a customer is being scammed. Police will then visit the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene.
Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest someone may have fallen for one of these scams and make an emergency call to the police. More than 100 calls were made in the first six months of this year in Leicestershire through the scheme.
Since the scheme was launched locally in September 2017, 17 individuals have been arrested.
A range of scams that trick victims into withdrawing cash from their branch have been prevented through the scheme, including courier scams, romance fraud and rogue traders.
In March this year a 94-year-old woman was contacted as part of a courier fraud offence and asked to go to her bank to withdraw more than £8,000. The bank staff became suspicious about the transaction and notified the force immediately.
National data shows that customers helped through the Banking Protocol are typically aged over 65 while some were over 100 years old, demonstrating how these scams are often targeted towards the elderly and vulnerable.
Those assisted by the scheme are offered ongoing support to help prevent them falling victim to scams in future, including referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.
Paul Wenlock from the force’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This scheme is hugely beneficial and the figures for the value of fraud it’s prevented speaks volumes. Across the country that figure is in excess of £19 million for just six months of this year. The Banking Protocol wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t for the bank staff who spot the signs. Their diligence has helped so many people from losing thousands of pounds.”
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, said: “It is sickening that criminals are preying on elderly and vulnerable victims during this difficult time. Bank branch staff and police on the frontline are doing a heroic job in stopping these cruel scams and helping bring those responsible to justice.
“It’s vital that people always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember that a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to another account or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.”
Further information on how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of these offences can be found here https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/