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Over £5 million worth of fraud stopped in Surrey and Hampshire

4 minute read
Over £5 million worth of fraud stopped in Surrey and Hampshire

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 12:38pm 4th March 2020.

A nationwide scheme has led to the arrest of 32 suspected fraudsters in Surrey and Hampshire. 

It enables bank branch staff to spot potential fraud victims and request an immediate police response. 

Since its introduction in 2017 in Hampshire and 2018 in Surrey over £1.4 million was prevented from going into fraudsters' pockets in Surrey and over £.3.5 million in Hampshire. 

phone scam

The protocol was brought in as a way to target scams where customers are tricked into visiting their bank to take out money and hand it over to a criminal. 

It was developed in partnership between UK Finance, local police forces and national trading standards.

Bank branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to such a scam.

The staff member can then launch the protocol, leading the local police to send a priority response to the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene. 

The latest figures from UK Finance reveal that:

  • 328 calls have been made to Surrey Police through the scheme with an average of £4,400 of fraud being prevented per call
  • 539 calls were made to Hampshire Police with an average of £6,841 of fraud being prevented per call
  • 217 vulnerable people have been protected as a result in Surrey 

Nationally, the scheme has stopped £100 million of fraud. 

The oldest customer helped through the scheme was 101, showing how criminals are targeting elderly and vulnerable victims.

The Banking Protocol also makes sure that customers who are identified through the scheme get extra support to stop them from falling victim to similar scams in the future.

Arrest handcuffs police

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance these scams can have a devastating emotional impact on victims: 

“Intervening early and educating customers to prevent these scams from happening means we can stop money getting into the hands of criminals in the first place.

"We would therefore urge people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and be aware that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.

"Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money and remember that a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to a ‘safe account’ or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards said the criminals deliberately target elderly or vulnerable people: 

“Vulnerable victims being frogmarched into banks and building societies to withdraw large sums of cash is something our investigators see all too often.

"In many cases, the victims have been deliberately targeted by criminals because they are an older person living alone or because they live with a health condition.

"We’re proud to have played a part in shaping such an effective scheme to help prevent more people falling victim to scams. 

If you think you or someone you know is being targeted as part of a scam, report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.