More than £1.6million of fraudulent transactions have been prevented in the last two years, thanks to an initiative which sees Northumbria Police work alongside banks to protect vulnerable people being conned in to handing over their savings.
Since the Force adopted the Banking Protocol, officers have dealt with a total of 224 incidents.
Police, UK Finance, a number of high street banks, building societies and the Post Office work together to help provide a more rapid response to financial fraud.
It empowers all those involved to report suspicious banking activity as it is happening, catching offenders in the act.
The scheme works by training counter staff to spot suspicious activity and serve as ‘critical friends’ to anyone they believe to be at risk or vulnerable to criminal activity.
Since Northumbria Police adopted the scheme, officers have dealt with a total of 224 incidents and, through the partnership, £1.6million worth of fraudulent transactions have been halted. A total of 18 arrests have been made with the main types of fraud including false representation, investment fraud, advanced fee fraud and romance fraud.
Of the victims, 74 were women and 103 men, with an average age of 69.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, said: “Sadly, it is all-too common to see the vulnerable in our society being targeted by unscrupulous fraudsters.
“This type of crime is abhorrent as it not only robs people of their life savings and hard-earned cash, but it steals their confidence and ruins their trust in others.
“The very nature of these offences means that by the time offences have been reported to police it is often too late to save the victim’s money, but, being part of the Banking Protocol and working with partners means we have the chance to tackle fraud as it is happening.
“We would ask the public to remember their banks, the police and any reputable organisation would never ask you to withdraw money, make payment using ITunes or Google vouchers and would never encourage you to to conceal the fact you have done this.
“I want to praise everyone involved in this initiative for making it a success and reassure the communities we serve that we are determined to continue this proactive approach to tackling financial fraud.
“While we are committed to preventing such criminality from taking place, we want to assure our communities that if this does happen to you, we will pursue those responsible and do our very best to bring them to justice.”