£ 32million in fraud averted by bank branch staff and police in first half of 2021
A fraud worth £ 32million was averted in the first half of this year thanks to staff at bank branches, real estate companies and post offices working with police.
The scams were stopped with a UK-wide rapid response program called the Banking Protocol.
The latest total is a 65% increase from the same period last year and brings the total amount of fraud averted to £ 174million since the program was introduced in 2016.
The protocol was initiated by UK Finance National Trading Standards and local police forces.
Branch staff are trained to spot warning signs that suggest a customer may be the victim of a scam, before alerting local law enforcement to intervene.
Customers benefit from ongoing support, including referrals to social services, expert advice on fraud prevention, and additional checks on future transactions.
– Stopped scams include:
A woman attempted to send an online payment of £ 2,500 to the United States. When the payment was blocked, she went to her local bank branch. She said she exchanged messages with a friend on social media and asked for money to pay for their hospital costs. No money was wasted.
An 80-year-old woman was called by a man claiming to be from her bank. He claimed there was a problem with her account and she needed to withdraw £ 2,000. Branch staff refused the withdrawal as it was a scam and the bank implemented measures to protect the victim.
An 80-year-old woman was quoted as £ 1,500 by builders who said she worked on her neighbor’s roof and noticed her roof was in need of repair as well. At his local bank, the victim explained to bank staff what the money was used for – prompting staff to fear it was a scam. Police attended and made sure no suspects were still at the scene. The officers also spoke to the neighbors. A social worker in charge of fraud offered her ongoing support.
Meanwhile, the latest figures show branch staff invoked the banking protocol 4,782 times between January and June 2021, saving potential victims an average of £ 6,672 each.
Ultimately, this led to the arrests of over 90 suspected criminals, bringing the total number of arrests to 934 since the protocol began.
Katy Worobec, chief economic crime officer, UK Finance, said the program also prevents stolen money from funding other illicit activities, including drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism.
She said: “Criminals have continued to capitalize on the pandemic to commit fraud, ruthlessly targeting victims through impersonation scams, romance, messaging and rogue traders.
“Branch staff and police work on the front lines to protect people from fraud and these numbers underscore the importance of their work in putting an end to these cruel scams and bringing criminals to justice. “
Acting Commander Clinton Blackburn, City of London Police, said: “Banking protocol continues to be one of the most essential ways to protect vulnerable victims and prevent criminals from taking advantage of them, because banks are often the first point of contact when someone is about to be a victim of fraud.
Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, said the figures suggest that “improved training for branch staff is helping protect savers from the scourge of scams.”
He continued: “This also likely reflects the fact that the crooks have stepped up their attempts to steal money from savers during the foreclosure.
“It was depressing but inevitable that criminals saw the pandemic as an opportunity to line their pockets, with figures from the Financial Conduct Authority indicating an increase in financial vulnerability over the past 12 months. “
Philip Robinson, Director of Retail Fraud Prevention, Lloyds Banking Group (including Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland) said: attempted fraud.
“We were actively involved in designing and piloting the banking protocol initiative prior to its rollout across the UK and this has helped banking colleagues on the phone and in branches break the spell of fraudsters at crucial moments before customers have almost handed over. money that changes life.
“It’s critical that people remember that scammers can easily pretend to be someone else and are ready to go the second they get their hands on your money.
“Never rush to hand over money or transfer it from your account, even if the person seems sincere or pretends to be from your bank, the police or a business or organization. Talk to a friend or to a family member and always do independent research to make sure someone is who they say they are before taking any action.