Police called to bank branches to save customers from online fraudsters

first_imgIn a piece for the Telegraph last year, Alex Neill, managing director of home and legal services at Which? called for bank staff to check the supplied name against the account details to prevent frauds like this from occurring. Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating effect on some of the most susceptible people in society and it’s by working together with law enforcement, and others, that we can make a real difference when it matters most.”The finance industry is determined to crack down on fraud and is taking action on all fronts – the protocol is an important weapon in our armoury.” Police have been called to bank branches in a pilot scheme to prevent customers from being duped by online fraudsters. New figures show that £9m of fraud was stopped in the first year of the scheme, which involves bank staff calling in police when they suspect that someone is being duped or pressured into withdrawing large sums. In one case, a Barclays customer who was attempting to withdraw £10,000 to buy a Rolls Royce on eBay was identified as a potential victim by staff who called the police.They arrived within half an hour and established that the seller was a fake. Police said that the customer and his money could have been in danger if he had attempted to go ahead with the purchase. In the 12 months since the pilot launch, the banking protocol has prevented £9.1 million of fraud – with individual customers protected from losing sums ranging from £99 up to £212,000, according to trade association UK Finance.The “rapid response” scheme enables bank staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch.As well as preventing fraud, the initiative ensures a consistent response to potential victims. UK Finance, the trade association for banks and financial firms, said the scheme had led to 101 arrests being made nationally, with police having responded to 1,262 banking protocol calls.The banking protocol was first launched in October last year with a pilot in London, before a national roll-out started in May.It was developed as a partnership between the finance industry, police and Trading Standards. The Post Office is also part of the protocol.The scheme is now in place in 43 police forces across the country, with all remaining forces across the UK committed to introducing it, UK Finance said.Banks have previously come under fire for failing to protect customers who make large or suspicious transactions in branch. Last year consumer watchdog Which? filed a supercomplaint about banks which failed to reimburse customers who had been duped into handing over cash by fraudsters.  Many customers are targeted in schemes in which con artists intercept email exchanges with legitimate businesses, such as builders or estate agents, and supply different bank details so customers transfer their cash to the fraudster instead. Some of these transfers are made in branch and could be picked up and stopped under the new system.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more