TSB has invested £200,000 in the war against fraudsters saying there are not enough officers available to investigate scammers.
The challenger bank is giving the money to the Metropolitan Police for use in three south east London boroughs – Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich – after their customers were targeted by fraudsters following the IT meltdown last year which compromised security for millions of customers.
The aid will eventually be rolled out to other police forces throughout the UK.
The bank says organised gangs took advantage of the situation to send ‘phishing’ emails to customers and more than 1,300 lost money.
‘Phishing’ is where a criminal sends a fake email or letter pretending it comes from the bank and persuades the customer to give away security sensitive information about their account. ‘Smishing’ is a similar crime but uses SMS text messages to deceive the customer.
A bank spokesman said it had been targeted by several ‘highly complicated and sophisticated attacks’ and the threat was becoming ‘increasingly challenging’.
The criminals involved were organised crime groups involved in drugs, human trafficking and terrorism, he added.
As well as providing the cash TSB will work with the police to ‘enhance the skills of officers’ to support fraud prevention.
Executive chairman Richard Meddings said: “Fraud is a serious and organised crime and we want to hunt down the criminals targeting customers – that’s why we’ve put our learning into practice to work with the Met to help ensure fraud is a high-risk crime.
Put criminals behind bars
“The partnership announced today will help customers of every bank and business to avoid being duped.
It will improve fraud detection, drive greater collaboration across the industry and, crucially, put criminals behind bars.
“Our ambition is to roll partnerships like this to regional police forces right across the UK to support them in their fight against financial crime.”
Head of the TSB fraud unit, Ashley Hart, said the bank realised after the incident that police were ‘overwhelmed’ by the number of fraud investigations they faced.
The start of the problem was identified as the transfer of information from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, to local forces.
“The NFIB package up intel which compiles fraud report and sends it out to police forces to make arrests and that’s where we discovered it all goes a bit wrong.
“With frontline policing and the nature of its resource constraints, it means these packages were arriving and there were not enough police officers to do anything with them.”
Superintendent Sean McDermid of the Met’s South East Basic Command Unit, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work with the banking industry to make a real difference, not only to our communities in the South East but also our volunteers and wider workforce.
“Fraud is a serious epidemic and only through building positive relationships between the police, banks, business and London’s communities, can we tackle it.
We all have our part to play and I would urge everyone to be vigilant to potential scams and to think before they act. Fraud can happen to any of us.”