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 Partnership working has stopped fraud victims being defrauded


An innovative scheme devised has stopped vulnerable people handing over more than £700,000 of their hard-earned cash to unscrupulous scammers - in just six months.


As part of the initiative known as the Banking Protocol police forces across the country work together with UK Finance, high street banks, building societies and the Post Office to catch offenders in the act as they attempt to de-fraud their victims.


Here in the North East the three forces of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland dealt with a total of 102 incidents, 51 of which were criminal and have prevented a total of £779,405 from falling into the wrong hands since January.  And nationally – that total sits at £19.3 million.


The region is in fact the first area in the entire country to expand the initiative to crackdown on fraudsters targeting vulnerable people through online and telephone banking.


Since the Banking Protocol launched three years ago, it has prevented con-artists across the country from lining their pockets to the tune of £116million and seen 744 people arrested. 


Detective Sergeant Paddy O’Keefe, is the area’s Regional Development officer for Fraud and Economic Crime and champions the scheme, praising the continued partnership working and consistent results.


He said: “Banks and their staff are an essential part of the strong counter-fraud community we have here in the North East. It is their interaction with vulnerable victims which can stop the harm caused, minimise financial loss and help safeguard that individual.


“Having the Banking Protocol in place is great as it triggers an immediate police response which helps officers to secure vital evidence at an early stage which increases the chances of bringing those responsible to justice and allows us to work with victims and offer them the support they need.


“Collaborative working with our partners in the financial sector has had a huge impact and the figures speak for themselves – however, we won’t stop there – here in the North East we are continuing to tackle this type of criminality and were the first region to adopt the newest expansion of the Banking Protocol last year, working with organisations to identify victims of online and telephone banking.


“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel we will continue to work with our partners to provide a robust response to serious and organised crime in all its forms – including fraud and economic crime.”


Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance added: “It is sickening that criminals are preying on elderly and vulnerable victims during this difficult time. Bank branch staff on the frontline are doing a heroic job in stopping these cruel scams and helping bring those responsible to justice.


“The banking industry is now working with police forces to expand this scheme to telephone and online banking, with a focus on protecting vulnerable customers.


“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.”