More than a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of fraud has been prevented in the South Wales Police force area thanks to the introduction of the Banking Protocol, a ground-breaking scheme aimed at identifying and protecting potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society branch.
Since being introduced by South Wales Police in October 2017, more than 70 emergency calls have been placed and responded to through the scheme – and five arrests made.
Developed as a partnership between the finance industry, police and Trading Standards, the Banking Protocol enables bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch. Branch staff, call handlers, police and trading standards officers in each area have all been trained in the Banking Protocol and the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.
Across the country the Banking Protocol has led to about 200 arrests and prevented almost £25m in fraud, while well over 3,500 emergency calls have been placed and responded to through the scheme.
As well as stopping frauds taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future. UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the Banking Protocol, with support from the National Trading Standards Scam team and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating impact on victims and is often targeted at the most vulnerable people in society, which is why we must work together to prevent it.
“The Banking Protocol shows how close cooperation between the industry and law enforcement can help to protect victims and crack down on fraudsters.
“This kind of joined-up approach is crucial to stay one step ahead and ensure that unscrupulous scammers preying on customers are brought to justice.”
South Wales Police Detective Inspector Stuart Prendiville added: “South Wales Police, in common with the other forces in Wales and many across the rest of the UK, have implemented Operation Signature, which puts a fresh focus on vulnerable victims of fraud, as well as preventing those who are potentially vulnerable from falling victim in the first place.
“Working with partner organisations plays a key role in the fight against fraudsters, and the Banking Protocol is a vital component of this. Many rogue traders or other fraudsters will attempt to dupe their victims into handing over cash for unnecessary work on their property; for payment for fake goods or services such as scam investments; or even to give to fraudsters claiming to be officials such as from HMRC.
“The Banking Protocol then provides a safeguard for victims – and, although we work hard to prevent anyone from being duped in the first place, when the Protocol works well we can help minimise the financial and emotional cost to victims.”