A crime-fighting scheme has stopped fraud worth more than £250,000 in the first half of this year in Cumbria.
The Banking Protocol - which sees banks, building societies and the Post Office work with Cumbria Constabulary - led to almost 60 emergency calls being made in the county. This is a UK-wide scheme, launched by banking trade association UK Finance, National Trading Standards and police forces and it has been running in the county for more than three years.
Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that someone is a potential scam victim before alerting officers to the situation.
It is often used to prevent impersonation scams - in which criminals pretend to be police or bank staff and convince people to withdraw or transfer large sums of money - as well as romance fraud, in which fraudsters use fake online dating profiles to trick victims into transferring money and rogue traders.
People who are helped are offered support to help stop them falling victim to more scams.
Detective Inspector Duncan Brooker, of the force's economic crime unit, said:
He added: “The Banking Protocol plays a vital role in trying to prevent people from becoming victims of potential fraud. Where staff at a bank, building society or post office suspect that a customer is trying to withdraw or transfer funds as part of a potential fraud, those staff will intervene and contact the police.
“This hopefully safeguards the potential victim and provides lines of enquiry for the police to explore. Telephone and internet scams can essentially be conducted from anywhere, making the identification of such scammers very hard to establish and even harder to deal with.”
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.”
UK Finance is urging customers to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember 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.