Issued on 11/2/19 at 11:38 a.m.
A scheme by the police and banks has prevented potential fraud victims in the force area from being scammed out of more than £550,000 in 2018.
The Banking Protocol trains bank staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam by trying to prevent them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster by contacting the police immediately.
The force arrested four people last year through the initiative, while 116 emergency calls were received from banks. In the vast majority of reports the perpetrators don’t have face-to-face contact with the victims and they are given instructions over the telephone.
Since the scheme was launched in September 2017 it has prevented more than £600,000 from getting into the hands of fraudsters.
The average of age of victims locally has been 67, showing how fraudsters are often targeting more elderly victims with these types of scams.
Paul Wenlock is the head of Leicestershire Police’s economic crime unit. He said: “It’s not just banks that are signed up to this scheme, nationally 52 payment service providers, including Post Offices, are signed up to the Banking Protocol and have trained their frontline branch staff in the steps they need to take when a customer is at risk.
“More than half-a-million pounds in 2018 which didn’t reach the hands of criminals is a significant amount of money. In most cases the money being taken was from vulnerable and elderly people. The actions of the banking staff prevented that money from changing hands.”
Katy Worobec is the Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance. She said: “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.”