The Banking Protocol rapid scam response has helped finance staff to combat more than £32 million of fraud attempts in the first half of this year.
According to recent figures from UK Finance, the amount is an increase of 65% compared to the same period in 2020, and brings the total amount of fraud prevented to £174 million since the scheme was introduced in 2016.
UK Finance said the UK-wide Banking Protocol trains finance sector staff to “spot the warning signs” that suggest customers may be falling victim to a scams. Only then can they contact local police forces to intervene and investigate.
The research showed that the Banking Protocol was activated 4,782 times between January and June 2021, saving customers an average of £6,672 each.
Ultimately, the scheme led to the arrest of more than 90 suspected criminals, bringing the total number of arrests to 934 since 2016.
Commenting on the research, Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, said: “Fraud has a devastating impact on victims so partnerships like the Banking Protocol are not only crucial in helping vulnerable people, but it also stops stolen money from going on to fund other illicit activities including drug smuggling, human-trafficking and terrorism.
“Criminals have continued to capitalise on the pandemic to commit fraud, callously targeting victims through impersonation, romance, courier and rogue trader scams.
“Branch staff and the police are working on the frontline to protect people from fraud and these figures highlight the importance of their work in stopping these cruel scams and bringing the criminals to justice.
“It’s important 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.”
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The protocol is often used to prevent impersonation scams, in which criminals imitate police or bank staff and convince people to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer large sums of money.
Additionally, it has been used to prevent ‘romance fraud’, in which scammers use fake online dating profiles to trick victims into transferring money, and to catch rogue traders who demand cash for unnecessary building work.
Research from August showed that the UK has seen a three-fold increase in financial losses due to fraud and cybercrimes attempts in the first six months of this year.
Around £1.3bn has been lost to these kinds of crimes compared to £414.7m from 2020. Cybercrimes saw a seven-fold rise, from 39,160 to 289,437.
Temporary Commander Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London Police, added: “Criminals have continued to use the pandemic to prey on people’s fear and anxieties in order to steal their money, which is evident through the increase in how much the Banking Protocol has prevented being lost to heartless fraudsters so far this year.
“The Banking Protocol continues to be one of the most vital ways of protecting vulnerable victims and preventing criminals from taking advantage of them, as banks are often the first point of contact when someone is about to fall victim to fraud.
“It’s also essential the public remain vigilant and follow the Take Five advice before parting with any money or personal details.”