�50k saved from conmen thanks to Havering Council scheme

More than �50,000 has been saved from falling into the hands of crooks targeting the borough’s vulnerable, thanks to a Havering Council scheme.

Banking protocol was launched in 2011 to prevent the elderly from being conned out of huge sums of money.

The tricksters often offer to carry out work only to disappear with the cash before any is done, or carry out shoddy repairs.

Most recently, scammers would have conned an elderly couple from Collier Row out of �1,500 had the safeguard not been in place.

The couple, aged 83 and 87, had been told that counterfeit money had been put into their account and they needed to withdraw �1,500 to be collected by a courier and taken to the police.

But staff at Lloyds Bank became suspicious and alerted Havering Police who put a stop to the con.

A 75-year-old nearly lost �4,000 to rogue builders who said his roof and chimney needed repair.

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Lloyds Bank in Hornchurch queried the withdrawal which resulted in the money being saved and the arrests of four men. Police enquiries are on-going.

Cllr Geoff Starns, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Our award-winning banking protocol continues to go from strength to strength. It is a fantastic partnership effort to stop money being stolen from the most vulnerable people in our community.

“We have since extended it to local taxi cab firms, whose drivers can sometimes be called to take these vulnerable people to the bank, and we will continue to do all we can to build on this great scheme.”

Chief Inspector David Hay, of Havering Police, said: “The partnership has proved to be effective in working together in protecting the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Havering’s banking protocol is the first multi-agency scheme of its kind, involving the council, the police, local banks, Age Concern and the Havering Community and Police Consultative Group.

The council’s trading standards officers have trained bank staff in how to spot vulnerable people who could be the potential victim of a rogue trader.

Bank workers are encouraged to make tactful enquiries if they feel a withdrawal could be suspicious. They can then involve the police or council to delay or stop the withdrawal.