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• Banking Protocol scheme alerts local police to suspected scams
• 103 emergency calls were made in Hampshire between January and June 2021, protecting customers from losing an average of £9,869 to criminals
• Use of the scheme has led to 7 arrests in Hampshire in the first half of this year
Branch staff at banks, building societies and Post Offices worked with the police to stop £1,016,539 of fraud through the Banking Protocol rapid scam response in Hampshire in the first half of this year, according to the latest figures from UK Finance.
The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme, launched by UK Finance, National Trading Standards and local police forces. Branch staff are trained 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 latest figures reveal that branch staff invoked the Banking Protocol 103 times in Hampshire between January and June 2021, saving potential victims an average of £9,869 each. Ultimately the scheme led to the arrest of seven suspected criminals in Hampshire in the first half of this year.
The Banking Protocol was rolled out by Hampshire in May 2017. Since March 2018, the scheme has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the UK.
It is often used to prevent impersonation scams, in which criminals imitate police or bank staff and convince people to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer large sums of money. It is also used to prevent romance fraud, in which fraudsters use fake online dating profiles to trick victims into transferring money, and to catch rogue traders who demand cash for unnecessary work on properties.
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.
Detective Sergeant Marcus Mills of Hampshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said:
“We want to remind local residents that a police officer would never call you and ask you for money. No one, not even someone from your bank, would call you and ask for your financial details or to withdraw cash
“These incidents can often have a significant impact on victims – both emotionally and financially – as they come to terms with the fact that they have fallen for a scam, and the financial losses that come with it. However, we are working with the banks to ensure that those individuals do not become repeat victims, educate them and their loved ones and ensure that fraudsters can no longer take advantage of Hampshire residents.
“If you, or you are aware of anyone seeking to withdraw their savings or a large sum of money; just take two minutes out to check with them why, speak to the bank about any suspicions you might have and if in doubt, contact us as we are there to assist. If you’ve been a victim of a crime or banking protocol, or know someone who has, please report it to us by calling 101 or by going online and visiting the Hampshire Constabulary website. If a crime is taking place dial 999 immediately”.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, commented:
“Fraud has a devastating impact on victims so partnerships like the Banking Protocol are not only crucial in helping vulnerable people, but it also stops stolen money from going on to fund other illicit activities including drug smuggling, human-trafficking and terrorism.
“Criminals have continued to capitalise on the pandemic to commit fraud, callously targeting victims through impersonation, romance, courier and rogue trader scams. Branch staff and the police are working on the frontline to protect people from fraud and these figures highlight the importance of their work in stopping these cruel scams and bringing the criminals to justice.
“It’s important that people always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember that a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to another account or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.”
To build on the success of the scheme, banks and building societies are continuing to work with local police forces on expanding the process to cover attempted bank transfers made by customers through telephone and online banking.
UK Finance is urging customers to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to another account or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.