A RAPID-response scheme by banks and Hampshire police has prevented potential fraud victims from being scammed out of more than £1 million.

Last year, new strategy, the Banking Protocol, stopped more than £1.4 million being taken from Hampshire residents who had fallen victim to scams or fraud.

The Banking Protocol trains bank staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and try to prevent them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Bank branch staff are on the front line in the fight against fraud, as increasingly sophisticated gangs target consumers directly and trick them into withdrawing large sums of cash.

“This rapid-response scheme is giving bank staff the tools they need to protect vulnerable customers from scams, while helping local police catch fraudsters and bring them to justice.

“The banking industry will keep taking action on all fronts to combat fraud, working closely with our partners in law enforcement to crack down on the criminal gangs responsible.”

The scheme was rolled out by Hampshire Constabulary in June 2017, and since March 2018, it has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the UK.

A total of seven arrests were made by Hampshire Constabulary last year through the initiative, while in total 247 emergency calls were received.

The latest figures reveal that across the country the scheme has prevented £38 million of fraud and led to 231 arrests in 2018.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Dring, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Volume Fraud Investigation Team, said: “It is very important that bank staff can recognise the signs and feel confident enough to call 999, as often the victims do not know they are being scammed.

“All bank employees have now received fraud loss prevention training and we will continue to work with them to make sure people aren’t conned into handing over their hard-earned cash.

“The types of fraud we see through the banking protocol range from online romance fraud to scams where people have been called by scammers impersonating police officers or council officials.”