A SCAM-BUSTING initiative has stopped more than £2.5m from being defrauded from Sussex residents in just 18 months.
Last month alone has prevented another £188,062 being stolen in the highest monthly total so far.
The telephone banking protocol is being piloted by Sussex Police with the co-operation of banks and their national body, UK Finance.
PC Bernadette Lawrie, the financial abuse safeguarding officer for Surrey and Sussex Police, said: “This initial pilot involves Lloyds, Santander, First Direct and the Co-op Bank, but with a view to it being spread both nationally and to the other financial institutions.
“Following a pilot phase, it is intended to extend the initiative to include Surrey Police and it has already been rolled out to Police Scotland.”
In one of the latest incidents, an East Sussex man was saved from losing more than £23,000 in a share scam. He was persuaded the phone call he received was illegal after the bank promptly contacted Sussex Police when he tried to withdraw the money.
“The case shows that potential fraud victims will sometimes contact their banks by phone or online having been asked by cold callers to invest or withdraw funds,” such a Sussex Police spokesman.
“But now the bank, if they have concerns about a customer’s request to transfer monies and think it might relate to fraud or a scam, can contact the police and it will ‘freeze’ the funds for 72 hours while officers attempt to engage with the individual and find out if the transaction is fraudulent.”
The protocol is based on the similar successful scheme, the banking protocol, in which counter staff spot and help vulnerable customers who go into branches to make suspicious withdrawals.