Police say they have stopped more than £1million worth of fraudulent transactions thanks to an initiative which sees officers work with banks to protect vulnerable people being swindled out of their savings.
Northumbria Police has joined with the organisation UK Finance, a number of high street banks and building societies and the Post Office to catch offenders in the act and provide a more rapid response to financial fraud.
As part of the scheme, counter staff have been trained to spot suspicious activity and act as ‘critical friends’ to anyone they believe to be at risk or vulnerable to criminal activity.
And 16 months since its inception, the team behind the scheme – known as the Banking Protocol – have reached their first major milestone after preventing a total of £1,004,137 fraudulent transactions from taking place.
The banks have also referred 71 customers to the police who they believe to be vulnerable, so safeguarding measures can be put in place.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb, from Northumbria Police’s Intelligence Unit, said: “The stories of vulnerable members of our communities being targeted for money by unscrupulous fraudsters are well documented.
“One of the significant challenges of this kind of crime is that by the time such offences are reported to police it is often too late to save the victim’s money, but by working with our banking partners we have been able to save more than £1 million.
“I want to praise everyone involved in this initiative for making it a success and reassure our communities that we are determined to continue this proactive approach to tackling financial fraud.
“We will do everything in our power to prevent such criminality from taking place but if it does, we will pursue those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The team behind the initiative are looking at ways to expand the scheme including with Bureau de Change and to online and telephone banking.
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."
Those who have been affected by fraudulent activity can contact the designing out crime team by calling 101 ext 62211 (office hours) or the control room if the matter requires a police response out of hours.