MORE than £1 million of fraudulent transactions have been prevented thanks to an initiative which sees police work with banks to protect vulnerable people being swindled out of their savings.

Northumbria Police has joined with UK Finance and a number of high street banks and building societies as well as the Post Office to catch offenders in the act and provide a more rapid response to financial fraud.

As part of the scheme, counter staff have been trained to spot suspicious activity and act as ‘critical friends’ to anyone they believe to be at risk or vulnerable to criminal activity.

The banks have also referred 71 customers to the police who they believe to be vulnerable, so safeguarding measures can be put in place.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb said: “One of the significant challenges of this kind of crime is that by the time such offences are reported to police it is often too late to save the victim’s money.

“I want to praise everyone involved in this initiative.”

The team behind the initiative are looking at ways to expand the scheme including with Bureau de Change and to online and telephone banking.

Katy Worobec, managing director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating impact on victims and is often targeted at the most vulnerable people in society, which is why we must work together to prevent it.

“The Banking Protocol shows how close cooperation between the industry and law enforcement can help to protect victims and crack down on fraudsters.”