Surrey Police and local industries stop £2 million of fraud with Banking Protocol scheme
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Surrey Police worked with branch staff at local banks, building societies and Post Offices to stop £740,000 worth of fraud through the Banking Protocol rapid scam response last year, figures published this week have revealed.
Launched in 2016, the Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme, developed in partnership between UK Finance, local police forces and National Trading Standards. The protocol oversaw the training of branch staff to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to a scam, before alerting their local police force to intervene and investigate the suspected fraud.
In the past year, the Banking Protocol was invoked 164 times in Surrey. The latest figures, covering fraud prevented through alerts made by branch staff, mean there have been a total of 20 arrests in the county and £2 million saved since the protocol began.
The Banking Protocol scheme is used to prevent a variety of different crimes, including romance, impersonation, courier, and rogue trader scams. Customers assisted by the scheme are offered ongoing support to help prevent them from falling victim to scams in the future, including referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.
The intervention evoked by the Banking Protocol can stop fraud victims from parting with their money before it’s too late, which is what happened to a 47-year-old man in Surrey recently:
The man was approached by two men on his doorstep offering to clear his gutters. The man declined this service and the men left.
The following day, the man was approached by the same two men from the day before, claiming they had cleared his gutters and required payment of £2000. The victim offered to pay by cheque but they refused and demanded cash.
The man visited his bank branch to withdraw £2000 in cash. Bank staff were concerned that a scam may be taking place, so refused the withdrawal and called police, evoking the Banking Protocol.
A police officer attended the branch and spoke with the man, confirming he had been the victim of a scam. Thankfully, the bank’s actions meant that no money was lost and the victim received the appropriate safeguarding.
Detective Chief Inspector of the Economic Crime Unit, Rob Walker, said:
“We’ve all read the startling figures showing rising cases of fraud throughout the country, and sadly, the devastating impact it has on victims. The key to tackling fraud is prevention, which is where schemes such as the Banking Protocol play an invaluable part. It adds another vital layer of protection which can stop victims from parting with their money and receive the support they need from specialist services to prevent themselves from falling victim to further scams.
It’s really important that we check in on our elderly and vulnerable loved ones, friends and neighbours who may be particularly susceptible to scams. By working together, we can stop fraudsters in their tracks and protect potential victims.”
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, commented:
“The Banking Protocol demonstrates the success of close collaboration between the banking and finance industry and the police in helping vulnerable victims, stopping fraud from happening in the first place and bringing the criminals responsible for fraud to justice.
“Partnerships like the Banking Protocol are crucial, not only for the potential victims of this crime, but to stop money going on to fund organised crime and terrorism with devastating consequences. As criminals have adapted their techniques to commit fraud, the industry is rolling out an enhanced scheme to ensure customers banking via the telephone or online, as well as in branch, are protected from fraud.
“It’s vital that people always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and be aware that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money, and remember that a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to a ‘safe account’ or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.”