More than half a million pounds has potentially been saved from being defrauded from people’s bank accounts this year within South Wales – thanks to an initiative between high street banks and police.
The Banking Protocol allows staff in banks and building societies to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, and is a partnership between police, the finance industry and trading standards.
A total of £520,680 – which could otherwise have been fraudulently taken from victims’ accounts – has been saved between January and November 2018.
In that time, South Wales Police has received 120 calls, with 68 crimes being reported and eight arrests being made. The average age of the victims was 69.
On one occasion, a Neath pensioner tried to withdraw a four-figure sum after receiving a call demanding she buy iTunes vouchers as part of a supposed police operation, but was prevented by bank staff who realised it was clearly a scam.
Separately, a man in his 70s from Cardiff was prevented from withdrawing more than £2,500, which it was revealed he had tried to do after being rung by HMRC, on a number that was spoofed to look like the real one. Fraudsters had told him he owed more than £2,500 in unpaid tax – and that he should withdraw it in cash and hand it over in person.
Acting Detective Inspector Stuart Prendiville said:
“We take fraud extremely seriously, and, through our over-arching Operation Signature, have prioritised supporting vulnerable victims of this type of crime – as well as preventing them becoming victims in the first place.
“Part of the battle against cold-hearted, manipulative fraudsters is to ensure there is joined-up thinking between different organisations, something which the Banking Protocol is indicative of.
“Fraudsters may try a variety of means to attempt to dupe their victims into handing over cash – including for unnecessary work on their home, to pay off supposed debts, or even to support an apparent law enforcement operation against something like money laundering.
“I’d urge everyone to be aware of those who may try and defraud them, and to look out for loved ones and share the message with them. Remember that police, banks or other trusted organisations will not ask you to hand over cash, nor ask you to join any sort of undercover investigation – nor try to coerce you into making a payment by saying there is a warrant out for your arrest.”