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Fraud expert wins award for recognising UK-wide potential of initiative launched in Havering

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:01 03 July 2017

Christine Farrow and Sara Barry, chair of Chartered Trading Standards Institute. Picture: Kerry Auger

Christine Farrow and Sara Barry, chair of Chartered Trading Standards Institute. Picture: Kerry Auger

Kerry Auger

A fraud prevention expert has won an award for recognising a scheme's potential that allowed banks in the borough to alert police if customers were suspected of being stung.

Launched in Havering, the initiative is aimed at preventing doorstep crimes and scams, and in its first three months helped prevent more than £1million of fraud and enabled the Met to make 14 arrests.

Financial Fraud Action UK’s fraud prevention manager Christine Farrow secured the Met’s agreement that it would treat such incidents as emergencies and it is now being rolled out throughout the UK.

She was announced as a hero award winner at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) annual conference in Harrogate held last week.

“I am honoured to receive this award,” she said.

“The initiative has been a real success in areas where it has been rolled out and I hope it will soon be in place across the country.”

Leon Livermore, CTSI chief executive, said: “All too often we hear of vulnerable people being tricked or pressured into withdrawing cash to pay for overpriced or shoddy work but this project aims to put a stop to it.

“Christine’s determination to get this initiative moving, and her refusal to take no for an answer, is an inspiration to many of us in the consumer protection field.”

The initiative works by training bank staff to look out for unusual customer behaviour and to tactfully ask questions about the reason for the withdrawal.

Bank staff then summon swift police support by dialling 999 and disclosing an agreed password – as they did when a 95 year-old-man tried to withdraw £3,000 in Twickenham for house repairs.

The pensioner had been driven to the bank by a rogue builder who was arrested as he waited in his nearby car.

Havering trading standards started working on the project in 2011 but it took until 2016, when the Home Office launched the joint fraud taskforce, to fully recognise the benefits of police, trading standards and financial institutions working together, before it gathered momentum under Christine’s leadership.

Christine was nominated for her award by Richard Strawson, who headed the partnerships and doorstep crime project at the National Trading Standards office.

She added: “I would like to thank Richard for his nomination and everyone else who has supported the banking protocol and ensured vulnerable people are protected.”

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