UK: Bank staff prevent £38m scams, fraudsters say tax paid via bitcoin machine
11 Feb 2019

A new scheme that trains bank staff to spot the signs of a scam and help customers deemed at risk has helped prevent £38 million in fraud, an industry group said.

Under the Banking Protocol, staff can request an immediate police response to the bank if they believe someone is about to fall victim to a scam. This is aimed at preventing them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster.

In one case an elderly customer, who seemed anxious, visited a branch to withdraw £19,000, believing that they had to pay a £50,000 tax bill or face jail.

It turned out that fraudsters had contacted the potential victim and told them to pay the ‘oustanding’ tax tax bill via bitcoin machines, iPhone cards or steam gaming cards.

However, banking protocol was used which meant that no money was lost, said UK Finance.

“A total of 231 arrests and 4,240 emergency calls were made through the industry-wide initiative last year, with an average of £8,960 being prevented per call.

“The average age of a customer helped by the Banking Protocol last year was 71, showing how fraudsters are often targeting more elderly victims with these types of scams,” UK Finance explained.

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