A SCHEME has prevented more than £300,000 of fraud in South Wales - in just six months.

Branch staff at banks, building societies, and post offices worked with police to stop £322,958 of fraud through the Banking Protocol rapid scam response in South Wales in the first half of this year, according to UK Finance figures.

The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme, launched by UK Finance, National Trading Standards and police.

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.

Thanks to this scheme a man in his 90s avoided falling victim to an investment scam.

He’d tried to make an international payment of $7,000 to a company wanting to sell shares he held in America – they reassured him he’d get this back and could get a return of £60,000.

When this payment was stopped, he visited his branch; staff invoked the Banking Protocol and police visited him at home. No money was lost, and police are investigating the company.

A woman in her 80s was also protected; a male called her claiming to be from her bank and said there was an issue with her account – to resolve this he needed her to withdraw £2,000 at her bank then call back once home.

At her bank she was informed this was a scam. They refused the withdrawal and invoked the Banking Protocol, alerting police. Officers attended and offered fraud advice to the victim; the bank has also taken measures to safeguard her from future frauds.

Another woman in her 80s avoided falling prey to a rogue trader scam thanks to the scheme.

Builders told her they’d been working on her neighbour’s roof and noticed her roof also needed repairing urgently. They quoted her £1,500 and asked for it in cash. She went to the bank to withdraw funds but staff were concerned it was a scam and invoked the Banking Protocol – alerting police – and refused the transaction.

Plus, a woman avoided losing £2,500 to who she thought was a friend in the US who had claimed to need money for hospital fees, The payment was blocked, and no money was lost.

Customers assisted by the scheme are offered a variety of ongoing support to help prevent them falling victim to future scams.

The latest figures reveal that branch staff invoked the Banking Protocol 104 times in South Wales between January and June 2021, saving potential victims an average of £3,100 each.

Since the scheme launched in 2016 if has prevented £174m of fraud across the UK and led to 934 arrests.

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Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, Katy Worobec, 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."

To build on the scheme’s success, banks and building societies are working with police on expanding the process to cover attempted bank transfers made by customers through telephone and online banking.

Customers are urged to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and to 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.