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Bank staff prevent £38m in suspected fraud in 2018

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Written by: Danielle Levy
06/02/2019
In 2018, £38m-worth of attempted fraud was prevented by a scheme that allows bank branch staff to quickly alert police to suspected scams.

The Banking Protocol rapid response scheme led to 231 arrests in 2018, after 4,240 emergency calls were made. It is estimated that each call saved an individual an average of £8,960.

The scheme allows bank staff members who suspect a customer is being tricked by a fraudster to take them aside to ask additional questions. For example, they may be making an unusually large cash withdrawal. If their suspicions are confirmed, the staff member can then invoke the Banking Protocol and contact the local police, who will send a priority response to investigate the suspected fraud.

Since the scheme launched in October 2016, it has prevented £48m of fraud and led to 408 arrests. In November 2018, £4.5m of fraud was prevented, representing the highest monthly total so far.

Meanwhile, the average age of a customer helped by the Banking Protocol scheme was 71.

The scheme also provides extra support to customers who are affected to prevent them from falling victim to similar scams in the future.

“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,” explained Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance.

Time to stop complex scams

While Gareth Shaw, head of Money at Which?, welcomed the fraud prevention figures he pointed out that “overall losses to transfer fraud continue to rise as people fall victim to increasingly complex scams”.

“Two years on from our super-complaint and people are still losing life-changing sums of money every day to bank transfer scams. We must see new industry rules urgently introduced to halt this worsening crime, alongside an agreement to reimburse victims when they have lost money through no fault of their own,” he said.

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