A new system banks can use to alert police of fraud has saved a pensioner from spending £10,000 on a car that didn't exist. Retired lorry driver Barry Fox, 72, went into his local Barclays branch to withdraw a large amount of cash – but concerned staff told the police, who stopped Mr Fox in his tracks.
Mr Fox saw a luxury Rolls-Royce for sale on an internet auction site, and having decided to buy it went in branch to withdraw the cash. A new system called the Banking Protocol allows staff to alert police of potential scams, and summoned an officer to help within an hour – who was able to tell Mr Fox he was about to be scammed.
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The seller had arranged to pick Mr Fox up from a railway station before travelling to a countryside location where they would pick up the car. Bank staff said "it didn't seem right."
Through checks, police were able to alert Mr Fox that the car in question was registered hundreds of miles from the selling address, and that the seller's details did not match those of the business that owned the car.
"I might have gone there with £10,000 in my pocket and been knocked over the head with a stick or something," said Mr Fox.
On police advice, he cancelled the sale, and was able to find another vehicle sold legitimately. Mr Fox is now the proud owner of his very own Rolls-Royce – and avoided being scammed.
Alex Neill, of consumer publication Which?, said the Banking Protocol was a step in the right direction but should be extended further.
"In the first six months of 2017, more than £100m was lost to bank transfer scams," she said, urging banks to deal with other kinds of online scams "where consumers remain vulnerable."
The Banking Protocol system has so far taken 1,262 calls. In the last 12 months, these calls have led to 101 arrests.
Katy Worobec, from banking sector representatives UK Finance, said: "The finance industry is determined to crack down on fraud and is taking action on all fronts. The protocol is an important weapon in our armoury."