POTENTIAL frauds of more than £500,000 were prevented in the Dyfed-Powys area last year, thanks to a rapid response scheme by banks and police.

The Banking Protocol rapid response scheme prevented frauds totalling £515,579 in 2018, and led to two arrests.

The scheme 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, after which they can request an immediate police response to the branch.

In total, 46 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. The average age of a customer helped by the Banking Protocol nationally last year was 71, showing how fraudsters are often targeting elderly victims.

The Banking Protocol was rolled out by Dyfed-Powys Police in 2016.

All the main high street banks and the Post Office are now fully signed up to the Banking Protocol and have trained up their front-line branch staff in the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.

Paul Callard, of the Dyfed-Powys Police Financial Crime Team, said:

“We know that the most vulnerable in our communities are being targeted and defrauded by heartless criminals, using a variety of methods.

“A common method for fraud offences to be carried out is by encouraging victims to go to their bank, building society or Post Office to withdraw cash or transfer money out of their account.

“Through the Banking Protocol, bank and building society staff can contact us directly if they have any concerns about someone withdrawing large amounts of money, or attempting an unusual transaction.

“We are able to identify and protect potential fraud victims, and by working in partnership with the finance industry and Trading Standards we can really make a difference and protect the most vulnerable.

“Thanks to the Banking Protocol we have succeeded in preventing over £500,000 being lost to fraudsters in 2018 in Dyfed-Powys alone, and prevented the victimisation of some of the most susceptible.

“This is testament to the impact that can be directly attributed to the Banking Protocol, and we are excited to see further positive success stories as we move forward.”