EAGLE-eyed bank staff who twice stopped a pensioner from losing thousands in a cruel scam have been praised by police.

Last month, concerned cashiers from Barclay’s bank in Houghton-le-Spring raised the alarm after one of their regular customers visited the branch to withdraw £2,500 – claiming the cash was to pay for home improvements.

Worried he had fallen victim to a complex scam, the staff gently quizzed the 83-year-old and were horrified to learn he had been tricked by fraudsters into believing his account had been compromised and that he planned on sending his savings to a ‘secure’ address.

It later transpired that Barclay’s staff had previously stopped the same man from falling foul to scammers after they coerced him into downloading a remote app to his mobile phone giving them access to his account.

At that time, a number of transactions and transfers were halted by Barclay’s fraud department – who immediately spotted the suspicious activity and put safety measures in place.

Sadly, the victim succumbed to further pressure by the callous criminals and last month once again attempted to withdraw money in person from his local branch, claiming he needed cash for home renovations.

Detective Sergeant Phil Thoburn from the Force’s Complex Fraud Unit praised the continued vigilance of those working in the bank.

“This incident shows just how important it is to follow your instincts and trust your gut when you see something that doesn’t feel right,” he said.

“In this instance, bank staff were able to prevent a pensioner from losing large sums of money at the hands of aggressive and determined criminals who used scare tactics on a vulnerable male to try and make money.

“Thankfully all transactions were blocked, and all attempts by these greedy, despicable individuals failed. These fraudsters went to great lengths to deceive their victim, firstly gaining remote access to his bank account and when that tactic failed they equipped him with a cover story to make a counter withdrawal.

“Thankfully, Barclay’s staff foiled both attempts and this shows just how the banking industry are helping to make such a difference in the fight against fraud.

“I want to be clear – anyone involved in this type of criminality is not welcome here and can expect to be pursued by our officers. Our communities can be assured we are working tirelessly to prevent fraud in all its forms and are proud to work alongside local banks and building societies, offering training on what cashiers can look out for, and how to spot a fraud as well as ensuring our officers respond rapidly to any reports.”

The victim was visited by officers who removed all apps from his phone and added additional security to prevent him falling victim in future.

Anyone who thinks they have been contacted in this way, or who thinks they have fallen victim to fraud is asked to report to Action Fraud, or call 101.