A rapid response scheme by banks and local police prevented potential fraud victims in Dyfed-Powys from being scammed out of ｣515,579 in 2018, new figures have revealed.
The Banking Protocol trains bank staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and try to prevent them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster, after which they can request an immediate police response to the branch.
A total of 2 arrests were made by Dyfed-Powys Police last year through the initiative, while in total 46 emergency calls were received.
The latest figures reveal that across the country the scheme has prevented ｣38 million of fraud and led to 231 arrests in 2018. The average age of a customer helped by the Banking Protocol nationally last year was 71, showing how fraudsters are often targeting more elderly victims with these types of scams.
The Banking Protocol was rolled out by Dyfed-Powys Police in Autumn 2016. Since March 2018, the scheme has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the UK.
52 payment service providers, including all the main high street banks and the Post Office, are now fully signed up to the Banking Protocol and have trained up their front-line branch staff in the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, commented:
“Bank branch staff are on the front line in the fight against fraud, as increasingly sophisticated gangs target consumers directly and trick them into withdrawing large sums of cash.
“This rapid response scheme is giving bank staff the tools they need to protect vulnerable customers from scams, while helping local police catch fraudsters and bring them to justice.
“The banking industry will keep taking action on all fronts to combat fraud, working closely with our partners in law enforcement to crack down on the criminal gangs responsible.”
Paul Callard of the Dyfed-Powys Police Financial Crime Team said:
“We know that the most vulnerable in our communities are being targeted and defrauded by heartless criminals, using a variety of methods.
“A common method for fraud offences to be carried out is by encouraging victims to go to their bank, building society or Post Office to withdraw cash or transfer money out of their account.
“Through the Banking Protocol, bank and building society staff can contact us directly if they have any concerns about someone withdrawing large amounts of money, or attempting an unusual transaction.
“We are able to identify and protect potential fraud victims, and by working in partnership with the finance industry and Trading Standards we can really make a difference and protect the most vulnerable.
“Thanks to the Banking Protocol we have succeeded in preventing over ｣500,000 being lost to fraudsters in 2018 in Dyfed-Powys alone, and prevented the victimisation of some of the most susceptible.
“This is testament to the impact that can be directly attributed to the Banking Protocol, and we are excited to see further positive success stories as we move forward.”
The initiative, which was developed in partnership with National Trading Standards, trains bank branch staff to spot the signs of a scam and what steps need to be taken when a customer is deemed at risk.
If a staff member suspects a customer is being tricked by a fraudster, for example if someone is making an unusually large cash withdrawal, they will take them aside to ask additional questions.
If their suspicions are confirmed, the staff member can then invoke the Banking Protocol and contact the local police, who will send a priority response to the branch and investigate the suspected fraud.
As well as stopping attempted fraud, the scheme ensures that extra support is provided to those customers affected to help prevent them falling victim to similar scams in the future.
This can include referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.
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