[A]n initiative aimed at protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society has prevented almost £50,000 of Cumbrian money ending up in the hands of criminals.
The Banking Protocol, a national scheme, has involved the training of bank staff to give them the confidence to identify where a customer is being coerced or tricked into withdrawing or transferring money.
The protocol asks staff to dial 999 where they believe this to be the case, and where appropriate, an immediate police response may be requested.
Almost 50 banks have signed up to implement the protocol, including HSBC, Natwest, the Cumberland Building Society and the Co-op, and since the launch in Cumbria on July 31st, £49,000 in fraud has been prevented, and seven arrests made.
Detective Inspector Patrick McDonnell said: “Victims, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, are targeted for a range of fraud offences where criminals attempt to get them to withdraw money from a bank.
“Unfortunately this is something that we have seen happen in Cumbria and by working alongside the banks we hope to stamp it out and safeguard those most at risk.
“We believe that this is an under-reported crime and therefore I would encourage people to come forward to police or Trading Standards if they feel they have been a victim. We’d also ask friends and family of the elderly or vulnerable to offer support, and question if you are suspicious of money being paid out.”
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating effect on some of the most susceptible people in society and it’s by working together with law enforcement, and others, that we can make a real difference when it matters most. The Banking Protocol is a great example of this collaboration in action protecting people from becoming victims. The finance industry is determined to crack down on fraud and is taking action on all fronts – the Protocol is an important weapon in our armoury.”