Dishonest actions by staff to gain a benefit by theft or deception have risen 41% in twelve months, according to CIFAS, anti-fraud organisation.
Dishonest bank staff are increasingly preying on their elderly customers, new fraud figures have shown.
CIFAS, an anti-fraud organisation whose members include most major banks and building societies, said that there had been an "alarming increase" in the level of fraud committed by employees, with a third of it involving the theft of cash from customer accounts.
"Many of these fraudsters steal from elderly and more vulnerable account holders," said Richard Hurley, from CIFAS. "The perpetrators' actions are as bad as muggers in the street."
Arjun Mehdi, Staff Fraud Adviser at CIFAS, said that the number of dishonest actions by staff to gain a benefit by theft or deception had risen 41pc in twelve months. He said that there was a trend for longer-serving staff to engage in fraud, after spending several years working out a bank's systems. "They systematically hit certain accounts knowing that they will not be noticed," he said.
He added that one particular trend was for cashiers to cream off some of customers' deposits when they take cash into a branch. This was particularly common when dealing with elderly customers, he said.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said: “Any case of bank staff stealing from customers is unacceptable and this increase is very concerning – particularly at a time when banks are talking about regaining the public’s trust and confidence. Common sense measures such as asking for and then keeping a receipt for any deposit or withdrawal, can help in preventing fraud. However it’s important that people remember that banks are still the safest place to keep their money. “
Derek French, from the Campaign for Community Banking, said that a higher turnover of bank employees had led to a "lack of committment and loyalty" from staff."There has been a big difference," he said.
The total number of insider fraud cases identified rose from 330 in 2010 to 378 in 2011, a nearly 15pc increase. However, the number of dishonest actions by staff to obtain a benefit through theft or deception rose from 156 cases to 220 - a 41pc increase. Mr Mehdi said that many of these cases would have affected "many, many customers".
In order for a fraud to be entered onto the CIFAS database, the CIFAS member must investigate and reach a 'burden of proof' (i.e. there must be evidence of an identifiable criminal act) before filing. Mr Mehdi said that in many cases the staff who had perpetrated a fraud had cited their own gambling debts as a reason for their actions.