£299,000 of fraud in North Yorkshire was stopped by police and bank branch staff in the first half of 2020 through the Banking Protocol, figures published today have revealed.

The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme that enables bank branch staff to alert their local police force when they suspect a customer is being scammed. Police will then visit the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene.

Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest someone may have fallen for one of these scams and make an emergency call to the police with 48 calls being made to North Yorkshire Police and 27 crimes reported in the first six months of this year through the scheme.

A range of scams that trick victims into withdrawing cash from their branch have been prevented through the scheme, including courier scams, romance fraud and rogue traders.

National data shows that customers helped through the Banking Protocol are typically aged over 65 while some were over 100 years old, demonstrating how these scams are often targeted towards the elderly and vulnerable.

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

North Yorkshire Police Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon leads the force’s Economic Crime unit. He said:

“The Banking Protocol has been impactful in not only helping to prevent substantial amounts of money being lost to fraudsters but perhaps more importantly in identifying individuals who need support from their local police. Local banks are a cornerstone of our communities in North Yorkshire and they are a key partner in protecting vulnerable victims of fraud. The response from North Yorkshire branches has been fantastic and I would like to thank them for supporting the Banking Protocol initiative.

“Fraud is one of the most underreported crimes in the UK, with a number of barriers that stop victims getting in touch with the police. However, if we are alerted under the Banking Protocol we have an opportunity to speak to those who are being targeted by fraudsters, do everything we can to prevent their money being taken and ultimately safeguard them from becoming a victim again in the future.”

In 2019, North Yorkshire Police was able to prevent £1,150,027 from being lost to fraudsters through the Banking Protocol, with 76 crimes recorded and four arrests made.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, commented:

“It is sickening that criminals are preying on elderly and vulnerable victims during this difficult time. Bank branch staff and police on the frontline are doing a heroic job in stopping these cruel scams and helping bring those responsible to justice.

“It’s vital that people always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember that a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to another account or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.”

If you have been a victim of fraud, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101.