Police and finance industry in West Yorkshire stop almost £1m of fraud in 2020

The police worked with branch staff at banks, building societies and Post Offices to stop £941,083.80 of fraud in West Yorkshire through the Banking Protocol rapid scam response last year, figures revealed.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 11:00 am

Launched in 2016, the Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme, developed in partnership between UK Finance, local police forces and National Trading Standards. Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to a scam, before alerting their local police force to intervene and investigate the suspected fraud.

In West Yorkshire, the Banking Protocol was invoked 439 times and led to the arrest of 25 suspected criminals last year.

The latest figures, covering fraud prevented through alerts made by branch staff, mean there have been a total of 62 arrests in West Yorkshire since the protocol began.

Ramona Senior is in charge of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit

The Banking Protocol scheme is used to prevent a variety of different crimes, including romance, impersonation, courier and rogue trader scams.

Customers assisted by the scheme are offered ongoing support to help prevent them from falling victim to scams in the future, including referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.

Ramona Senior is in charge of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit (part of Programme Precision) said: “At the heart of these crimes are victims – often vulnerable people who are the target of heartless criminals who will stop at nothing to con them out of substantial amounts of money.

“We often find that victims are withdrawing thousands of pounds and that is where the Banking Protocol is making such a difference.

“By working with the banks, we are identifying more and more illegal activity and helping not only to prevent it but to also arrest those responsible too.

“This is a real success story and shows partnership working at its best to help protect some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Through the Banking Protocol we are working tirelessly to stop frauds and bring people to justice but I would also urge people to follow our advice to help make life more difficult for criminals and to pass the advice on to others too.”

Fraudsters will get in contact pretending to be from a range of organisations.

Recent cases across West Yorkshire have included potential scams involving suspected rogue traders, cold callers asking the public to invest in businesses, messaging on social media, starting up relationships then asking for money or trying to obtain your bank details by pretending to be from Amazon, PayPal, HMRC or a bank. We have also had fraudsters offering the Covid-19 vaccine for a fee by text message and asking for immediate payment.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, added: “The Banking Protocol demonstrates the success of close collaboration between the banking and finance industry and the police in helping vulnerable victims, stopping fraud from happening in the first place and bringing the criminals responsible for fraud to justice.

“Partnerships like the Banking Protocol are crucial, not only for the potential victims of this crime, but to stop money going on to fund organised crime and terrorism with devastating consequences. As criminals have adapted their techniques to commit fraud, the industry is rolling out an enhanced scheme to ensure customers banking via the telephone or online, as well as in branch, are protected from fraud.

“It’s vital that people always 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.”