Police scheme blocks potential scammers getting £137,000 from Hampshire victims last month

A police scheme it trying to crack down on scams
A police scheme it trying to crack down on scams

A POLICE scheme stopped more than £130,000 being handed over to potential scammers last month.

Hampshire Constabulary’s banking protocol encourages staff in bank branches to recognise signs of a scam or fraud and call police.

The scheme was introduced in the county in June last year with the intention of identifying and protecting potential victims of fraud when they visit their bank or building society.

Last month, the initiative saw £137,658 saved.

The types of fraud detected through the banking protocol range from online romance fraud, investment fraud, impersonating police or bank employees, courier fraud and rogue traders.

One example of money saved include a man trying to withdraw £11,000 before staff stepped in.

Since its launch last summer, withdrawals or transfers of more than £1.65m has been stopped in the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight thanks to the work of bank employees.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Dring, from the police’s economic crime unit, said many of the potential victims did not know they were being scammed before the police got involved.

‘I’m pleased each month the scheme continues to safeguard vulnerable victims of crime,’ she said.

‘I’d like to thank all bank staff who have followed their fraud loss prevention training and dialled 999.

‘Sadly many of the bank clients involved are not aware that they are potential victims of scammers.’

One incident from September included a man who tried to withdraw £11,000 having been contacted by suspected scammers purporting to be police officers.

Another case involved a suspected romance fraud where a man tried to open a bank account to send money to a woman in Russia.

Det Sgt Dring added: ‘This scheme means we have a better chance of making sure money doesn’t end up in unscrupulous hands.

‘It gives us the opportunity to investigate such incidents, and allowing us to advise often vulnerable people about scams.’

As previously reported in The News, Action Fraud estimates people in Hampshire lost £22.3m in the year to March 2017 amid a major hike in such crimes.

Figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics show the number of fraud incidents in Hampshire have risen by nearly 20 per cent since 2015.

In that year, 6,602 fraud offences were referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau by Action Fraud. But 7,852 incidents were referred in Hampshire last year.

Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of fraud should call 101, or report it direct to Action Fraud through their website actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040.