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Romance fraud: Notts woman praises police and bank staff after nearly being conned out of £20,500

February 9, 2019
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A woman, who was nearly conned out of £20,500 through romance fraud has praised the process that intervened.

The victim was contacted online by a man claiming to be a doctor doing emergency work for the United Nations in Syria. They had been communicating for around six months, and after a short while he started requesting money claiming that he needed her help to go home to his children. He assured her that he would come to England to be with her when he could.  

He initially requested £3,000 which the victim sent to an account in the UK, and on Monday (4 February 2019), he asked for £17,500.00 to be sent to Ghana.

The victim was about to oblige when she went into her Natwest branch, but the staff immediately spotted something suspicious and contacted our control room. 

As part of the banking protocol, it was fast tracked through to the fraud team who were able to instantly pick it up and speak with the woman. She now recognises that it was a fraud and has blocked all communications. She is getting the appropriate help and support through our Fraud Protect team. 

She said: "It's easy for people to wonder how I could have been conned in this way, but the lengths these people go to to convince you makes it all seem so real. I'd built up a relationship with him for six months and had no reason not to believe him. I'm much more aware now and off course it all adds up retrospectively. I will be much more sceptical when it comes to anything like this in the future." 

"I can only praise the banking protocol and the way the agencies worked together to prevent me losing any more money. Although it was a shock, staff at the bank and the officers treated me with the utmost respect and I'm grateful that they intervened."

Katy Worobec, Managing Director, Economic Crime at UK Finance, commented:

"This is a great example of how through the Banking Protocol, bank staff and police are working together to protect vulnerable customers from scams.

"Banks are always looking out for any suspicious transactions, but we need customers to be on the guard against suspicious approaches too.

"We are urging customers to be vigilant against romance scams and to always be wary of any requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person. If you think you may have fallen victim to a romance scam, contact your bank straight away and report it to Action Fraud."

The banking protocol, which was established in Nottinghamshire in May 2017, has prevented almost £480,000 in fraud so far in the county.

Michael Burrow, NatWest Managing Director North said: "It’s always heart warming to hear when we prevent a customer becoming the victim of a fraudster. The banking protocol has helped us work even more closely with the police and is helping to keep our customers safe and secure."

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