#romancescams | Vigilant bank staff stop scammers who tried to trick a 94-year-old Harborough pensioner into handing over £8,000

Scammers tried to con a 94-year-old woman out of £8,000 in Harborough, it has emerged.

The pensioner was so taken in by the offenders that she went into her bank branch in Market Harborough to withdraw the substantial amount of cash.

The distressed woman acted after being phoned by a scammer who claimed to be investigating problems with her account.

Scammers tried to con a 94-year-old woman out of £8,000 in Harborough, it has emerged.

They told the pensioner to hand over money for urgent checks in March this year.

But luckily vigilant staff at her bank branch quickly became suspicious.

They immediately alerted police before the woman handed over any of her precious life savings to the criminals.

The incident has come to light as it was revealed that fraud topping £330,000 has been prevented by police and bank branch staff in Leicestershire in the first half of 2020 through the Banking Protocol.

The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme that enables bank branch staff to alert police when they suspect a customer is being scammed.

Police will then visit the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene.

Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest someone may have fallen for one of these scams and make an emergency call to police.

More than 100 calls were made in the first six months of this year in Leicestershire alone through the blueprint.

Since the initiative was launched locally in September 2017, some 17 alleged criminals have been arrested, said Leicestershire Police.

Scams that trick victims into withdrawing cash from their branch have been foiled – including courier scams, romance fraud and rogue traders.

National data shows customers helped through the Banking Protocol are often aged over 65 while some were over 100 as crooks target elderly and vulnerable people especially.

Those assisted by the scheme are offered ongoing support to help prevent them falling victim to scams in future.

They include referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.

Paul Wenlock, of Leicestershire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This scheme is hugely beneficial and the figures for the value of fraud it’s prevented speaks volumes.

“Across the country that figure is in excess of £19 million for just six months of this year.”

He added: “The Banking Protocol wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t for the bank staff who spot the signs.

“Their diligence has helped so many people from losing thousands of pounds.”

Katy Worobec, managing director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, said: “It is sickening that criminals are preying on elderly and vulnerable victims during this difficult time.

“Bank branch staff and police on the frontline are doing a heroic job in stopping these cruel scams and helping bring those responsible to justice.”

She stressed: “It’s vital that people always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign.

“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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