Police bank branch response scheme prevents nearly £3 million of fraud in Scotland in first half of 2021
Branch staff at banks, building societies and Post Offices worked with the police to stop £2,725,015 of fraud through the Banking Protocol rapid scam response in Scotland in the first half of this year, according to the latest figures from UK Finance. In total, the scheme has prevented £174 million of fraud and led to 934 arrests since its launch in 2016.
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 526 times in Scotland between January and June 2021, saving potential victims an average of £5180 each. Real life case studies from the first half of the year are included at the bottom of this release. Ultimately the scheme led to the arrest of over 4 suspected criminals in Scotland in the first half of this year.
The Banking Protocol was rolled out by Police Scotland in March 2018. Since then 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.
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.”
Detective Superintendent Dave Ferry, Head of the Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit, Police Scotland said:
“Banks are often the first point of contact and can quickly raise the alarm when someone is about to fall victim to fraud, so the banking protocol is a great way of protecting vulnerable people and preventing them from becoming victims of criminals who are trying to take advantage of them.
“The development of the system where an immediate police response can be generated to a suspected fraud in progress at a bank, allows the police to gain vital evidence and increases the chances of catching the criminal in person. The success of the banking protocol is not only measured in the huge sums of money that have been stopped from entering the hands of criminals but also in the number of people who have been prevented from being victims of these cruel scams.”
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.