HAMPSHIRE Constabulary says it has prevented fraud totalling almost £1.2 million after signing up to the Banking Protocol.

The ground-breaking scheme aims to identify and protect potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society to withdraw cash.

Hampshire police have responded to almost 150 calls since it joined the nationwide initiative in June last year.

The Banking Protocol ensures that bank staff receive a priority police response if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed.

Nationally the scheme has resulted in 197 arrests - including eight in Hampshire - and prevented almost £25 million of fraud.

As well as foiling fraudsters the scheme ensures a consistent response to calls as well as giving victims extra support to prevent them being conned in the future.

UK Finance led the implementation of the Banking Protocol with support from National Trading Standards and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Dring, of Hampshire Constabulary’s economic crime unit, said: “Bank clients don’t know they're being scammed so this is a very important part of our work.

“Victims try to transfer money or withdraw cash and are intercepted by bank employees who have received training in fraud loss prevention.

“The types of fraud range from online romance fraud, investment fraud, impersonating police or bank employees, courier fraud and rogue traders.

“We would like to thank all the bank employees who have made the 999 calls and we hope this collaboration continues to be just as successful in our second year."

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud can have a devastating impact on victims. It's 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 co-operation between the industry and law enforcement can help to protect victims and crack down on fraudsters.

“This kind of joined-up approach is crucial to stay one step ahead and ensure that unscrupulous scammers preying on customers are brought to justice.”

Anyone who fears they have been a victim of fraud can call Hampshire police on 101 for advice or go online and visit actionfraud.police.uk.