BRIGHT bank staff foiled fraudsters preying on elderly victims and fleecing them out of more than £800,000.

Staff in Sussex have been made aware of the Banking Protocol, a UK-wide scheme that allows them to alert police if they think a customer is being scammed.

Officers then swoop on the branch to catch any suspected fraudsters and arrest them.

Earlier this year The Argus reported on the efforts of Lloyds Bank staff at Preston Circus in Brighton who foiled a scammer trying to bag herself £10,000.

Lloyds workers Liz Currer, Jacqueline Redknap and Jonathan Perrin grew concerned about a regular elderly customer who was making unusual withdrawals.

It turned out the woman was conning the elderly man to boost her own lifestyle, but she was arrested.

Branch staff are trained to spot the tell-tale signs that someone has been scammed, and 159 calls have been made across Sussex in the first six months of 2020.

So far, Sussex Police estimate the measures have stopped fraudsters taking more than £800,000 in the same time period.

Financial abuse safeguarding officer PC Bernadette Lawrie said: “Bank branch staff do incredible work in flagging suspicious transactions to us and preventing the elderly and vulnerable falling victim to such dreadful scams.

“Fraud can be a devastating crime and it’s horrendous that fraudsters would even attempt to exploit victims’ trust for their own gains.

“In Sussex we are leading the way with our fraud prevention work through Operation Signature by educating local communities on signs to watch out for and how to protect their money from scammers.”

Scams including rogue traders, courier scams and romance fraudsters have been stopped by the bank staff.

It included a 68-year-old man from Henfield who was stopped by bank staff when he attempted to transfer £35,000 to a woman he met online and believed he was in a relationship with.

He was told the cash would be used to release £13.5 million in gold bullion and diamonds, but bank staff stopped the suspected fraud.

Meanwhile an 87-year-old woman in Midhurst got a call from a fraudster who called herself ‘Sue’.

The suspect claimed to be from a bank working with the police to deal with fraud. She told the victim that £420 had been taken and told her to transfer her money to a different account.

She told the victim to tell bank staff it was her savings account, but genuine bank staff noticed the name on the account was different and blocked the payment.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Fraud is the fastest growing crime type and there are thousands of victims each year in Sussex who are targeted for their savings.”

“Criminals have become even more digitally equipped and savvy. It’s so easy now for people to track down our personal information or convincingly pose as somebody else.

“This is why Sussex Police’s fraud prevention work is leading the way nationally with the Banking Protocol and Op Signature. Officers are educating residents on how to spot scams and raising awareness of fraudulent behaviour in our communities, saving residents a potential loss of thousands of pounds.”