Cheques and bank withdrawals worth a total of £14,000 were stopped from being processed and seven arrests were made in Fife last week thanks to the Banking Protocol.
The fraud prevention scheme has been in place in Scotland since the start of March. It enables bank staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate blue light response sent to the branch.
Cashiers at Bank of Scotland branches in Leven and Cupar raised the alarm on Wednesday, May 30 and Thursday 31 respectively, after becoming suspicious about an elderly woman seeking to withdraw money for work at her home in Methil, and a man trying to cash a cheque in relation to work at a female pensioner’s house in Dunblane.
Six men aged 59, 52, 42, 32, 17 and 16 have been arrested in connection with the Methil incident and inquiries are ongoing. A 66-year-old man has been charged in connection with the Dunblane incident and he was due to appear before Stirling Sheriff Court on Friday 1st June.
Detective Inspector Gordon Burns of the Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit said: “In both cases, the first we were aware of suspicious activity was when bank staff called police to invoke the Protocol. Our Service Advisors are trained to immediately flag up such calls so that officers can assess and attend straight away, to help vulnerable customers and take any action as required.
“Inquiries are continuing in both these cases and we will continue to work closely with all our banking partners and Trading Standards to tackle doorstep crime and fraud. I would remind everyone reading this that rogue traders and cold callers are unscrupulous and will take any opportunity to relieve you of your money for sub standard work without adhering to required conditions, or indeed for no work at all. If you’re unsure about an unexpected caller at your door, politely decline their request or offer and call police.”
A Bank of Scotland spokesperson said: “Bank of Scotland takes its commitment to tackling fraud extremely seriously. We are a leading supporter of the ‘Banking Protocol’ initiative which provides an immediate police response for situations where branch staff believe a customer could be a victim of duping, extortion or coercion. This is the best outcome for our customers and we thank the branch colleagues in Leven and Cupar for their continued vigilance.”