STAFF at a bank in Chester helped prevent an elderly man withdraw £9,000 from his account to give to unscrupulous thieves.

The incident has been highlighted by Cheshire Police as officers have thanked local banks and building societies for working with them to help tackle fraud and other scams.

The recent case occurred at the Natwest branch in Eastgate Street.

Banks have been successfully identifying vulnerable customers attempting to withdraw large amounts of money from their accounts and initiating ‘banking protocol’.

In some cases it’s courier fraud, in other cases HMRC scams, shopping and romance fraud. Even rogue traders are not safe from being rumbled by bank staff.

Banking Protocol, is a joint partnership between the banking industry and police forces.

Customer-facing bank staff are being trained to identify signs that a customer may be about to fall victim to fraud and will contact the police if they suspect a scam is in progress.

Police officers will then go to the bank, accompany the potential victim back to their home and arrest the courier in the act of collecting the cash.

Jason Costain, head of fraud prevention at NatWest said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to help our customers especially when they have been the victim of a scam.

"All of our branch colleagues are trained in the banking protocol and we have successfully prevented hundreds of Natwest Group customers from being scammed since the Banking Protocol was launched in 2016.

"We are extremely proud of our Chester Eastgate Branch staff and it is fantastic to get this recognition from Cheshire Police.

"Since 2016 the Banking Protocol has helped countless victims across the UK, prevented over £100m falling into the hands of criminals and has led to 664 arrests being made.”

Since last year Cheshire officers have been working with local banks and building societies to help combat the increase in this type of offence.

A number of banks readily engaged with police to ensure potentially vulnerable customers are fully aware of the nature and implications of courier fraud.

Many of the banks are displaying Cheshire Constabulary posters in their public areas to remind customers that police officers will never ask people to withdraw money and have staff trained to know when they need to kick start ‘banking protocol’.

In total there have been 33 successful banking protocol calls to police which have safeguarded all 33 victims across Cheshire this year up to March.

PC Jim Day, financial abuse safeguarding and prevention officer, said: “I would personally like to thank the bank and building society managers in Cheshire who are being extremely proactive in helping us tackle courier fraud.

“Those who perpetrate this type of crime are preying on, primarily, the older members of society by purporting to be from the police or a financial institution.

"They coerce the victim to withdraw large amounts of cash to ‘assist them in an ongoing investigation’ and then disappear with the money.

“The impact of these scams can be both financially and emotionally devastating but, with the work that our frontline officers are doing with the support of our banks and building societies, we are able to prevent more of this type of crime being committed."