Protecting our customers from impersonation fraud

22 June 2020

3 min read

In the first half of 2020, UK Finance (UK Finance, 2020 Half Year Update) reported that victims across the UK have lost £36.7m to criminals posing as either the Police or Bank staff.

These kind of impersonation scams are very common, and are when criminals imitate Police or Bank staff to convince people to withdraw or transfer large sums of money. Often victims will be contacted to be told that there has been fraud on their account, and in order to protect their money, they should either move it to another account to ‘keep it safe’ or take out cash at a Bank Branch, and then hand it over. Sometimes, victims can be made to believe that there is an ongoing investigation, and that Bank staff cannot be trusted, therefore, they must not be told the real reason for moving or withdrawing the money.

If you feel suspicious about anything, stop and Take Five! Criminals are experts at impersonating people, but it’s important to remember, that neither the Police nor a Bank will ever ask you to withdraw or transfer your money in order to keep it safe.

Remember to stop, challenge and protect if you feel you might be about to become a victim of fraud.

Cardiff Branch stops impersonation scam and saves customer losing £8,000

One of our customers recently visited our Cardiff Branch, and requested to withdraw £3,000 in cash to pay for a car that they wanted to buy. The cashier at the Branch asked the customer the routine questions they usually would to rule out any possible scams, and the customer confidently told them that they hadn’t been contacted by anybody to withdraw the money, or been told to tell the cashier a different reason for the withdrawal request.

However, the next day when the customer returned to the Branch and requested to withdraw a further £5,000 cash, alarm bells began to ring with our vigilant cashier, who has been trained to spot the warning signs that someone might be a victim of fraud. They took the customer aside to discuss their concerns and to talk about possible scams, explaining how we try to protect our customers from falling victim to this crime.

At this point the customer disclosed that they had been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Police ‘Fraud Department’ who sounded very professional and extremely convincing. The customer was told that the Bank staff couldn’t be trusted and in order not to ruin an investigation they would have to make up a story about what the money was for, which was why the customer said they wanted to buy a car. The customer was told that once they had withdrawn the money, an officer from the Fraud Department would arrange to come and collect the money to keep it safe during the investigation.

Thankfully, the customer hadn’t handed over any of the cash yet to the criminals, allowing our staff to quickly report it to the Police. Luckily, due to the vigilance of the Branch staff the £8,000 was put straight back into the customer’s bank account and not into the hands of the criminals.

Remember, if you are contacted and asked to do this, it’s a scam! The Police or a Bank will never ask you to transfer funds to another account, or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe keeping.

Being aware of common threats, knowing how they work and what to look out for can help to protect you against falling victim to fraud.

Click here to read about some of the common techniques fraudsters attempt to use to trick you into giving away your personal information, money, banking details or even access to your computer.

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