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Scams initiative expands as £116m saved from fraud

Scams initiative expands as £116m saved from fraud
 Credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The Banking Protocol is being expanded to telephone and online banking after preventing victims from losing £116m to fraud since its launch in 2017.

Figures from UK Finance show that £19.3m of fraud was stopped through the national scheme in the first half of 2020, with more than 100 arrests made.

According to the industry body, discussions are underway with local police forces about expanding the protocol to cover attempted bank transfers made through telephone and online banking.

The protocol currently enables bank branch staff to make an emergency call to their local police force when they suspect a customer is being scammed, with 3,250 calls having been made in the first half of the year.

Police then visit the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene.

The scheme is often used to prevent scams where criminals impersonate police or bank staff, and convince people to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer large sums of money.

The industry body said data provided by police forces showed customers helped through the protocol are typically aged over 65, with scams often targeted towards the elderly and vulnerable.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, commented: “It is sickening that criminals are preying on elderly and vulnerable victims during this difficult time. Bank branch staff on the frontline are doing a heroic job in stopping these cruel scams and helping bring those responsible to justice.

“The banking industry is now working with police forces to expand this scheme to telephone and online banking, with a focus on protecting vulnerable customers.”

chloe.cheung@ft.com

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