Wrexham’s MP has welcomed a crackdown on fraudsters who try to con the public out of millions of pounds every year.
Ian Lucas visited Lloyds Bank on Regent Street, Wrexham, to learn more about the Banking Protocol, a scheme which has been set up to tackle scammers.
The initiative is a joint venture between the police, Financial Fraud Action – which represents banks – and trading standards. It ensures all customer-facing bank workers are trained to spot signs that someone might be withdrawing cash to hand to a scammer.
There is then a standardised plan for managing the situation and reporting cases to the police.
During his visit, Mr Lucas met Lloyds staff and heard of examples where his constituents had been targeted by fraudsters.
“It was shocking to hear how fraudsters are targeting people in Wrexham, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, and trying to con them with increasingly complex and sophisticated scams,” said Mr Lucas.
“It was, however, reassuring to discover how successful the Banking Protocol has been in tackling this problem and ensuring the perpetrators are brought to justice.
“We all need to remain vigilant and I am pleased our local banks are providing such a strong line of defence to protect customers from such underhand criminal activity.”
Between January and September of last year, Lloyds banks nationally were involved in 699 cases that saved customers a total of £5.4m. The youngest victim was seven, the oldest was 96.
Some scams are carried out online or over the phone, with some ending up with the fraudsters accompanying the victim to their local bank.
Mr Lucas learned of one local case where an elderly customer went into the branch to pay a tax bill of £3,500.
The staff member realised that this was unusual and it turned out that the customer had received a call from someone purporting to be from HMRC, threatening to send bailiffs round if the money was not paid. Banking Protocol procedures were followed and the customer was visited by the police who provided the support they needed.
Another Wrexham resident told how she received a call from someone claiming to be from BT, initially offering to solve a problem with internet connections in the area.
They were called back several times and passed on to various different people, and the woman ultimately ended up being convinced to install an app which she was told would make her accounts safer. In fact, the app was enabling the scammers to access her accounts. Thankfully, she hung up and reported the calls before losing any money.
The woman said: “The whole encounter was extremely stressful and distressing and I have since heard so many sad stories of people who have lost thousands of pounds. It’s heart-breaking for them.
“I have always thought myself to be an intelligent person but even my husband, who is always suspicious of any cold calls, was persuaded to access our computer by a convincing individual.
“I have had to reinstate my accounts online, have new bank cards, change all my passwords, all of which was a great inconvenience, but thankfully no money was lost. I would like to thank my banks and BT for their speedy actions. They were also extremely kind and helpful to me.”
For further information about preventing fraud, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or visit your local bank.
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