FRAUDSTERS plundered nearly £3,000 from a Huddersfield couple’s bank account for shopping in the USA.

The criminals spent £2,851 from Austin and Kate Myall’s Nationwide account in repeated transactions at a number of Wal-Mart stores in and around Houston, Texas.

It is believed the cash, taken out on April 16 and 17, was spent mostly on clothes.

The couple, of Springwood Hall Gardens, Gledholt, discovered the fraud when they checked their account balance before a shopping trip of their own on the April 18.

Mr Myall, 78, said when he first saw a figure of £2,414 on the cash machine screen, he thought they had been credited with the money.

He said: “I said to my wife, ‘My god, we’ve got thousands of pounds!’

“Then my wife pointed out that there was a minus sign in front of it.

“I was gobsmacked.”

They immediately checked their online statement.

It revealed 13 different transactions in which their account was used in Wal-Mart stores in Houston, Pearland, Webster and Friendswood, all in Texas.

As much as $500 (£254.99) was spent on individual occasions.

They immediately reported the issue to Nationwide, which cancelled the card and promised to refund the money.

Mr Myall, who has been a customer of the building society for more than 20 years, said he later discovered that the same thing had happened to other Nationwide customers.

The former merchant seaman and police clerical worker said: “I was asked by one of the Nationwide staff how much had been taken.

“When I told her the amount, she said ‘You’re lucky. Some people had been done for as much as £15,000.’ ”

He added he had heard about bank customers’ cards being cloned, but always took care when using his pin number.

Retired Huddersfield Technical College lecturer Mrs Myall, also 78, said it was lucky they checked their statement.

She said: “If we were the sort of people to wait for the statement through the post, it could have carried on.

“This should be a warning to people to keep an eye on their accounts.”

A Nationwide spokeswoman said the company’s fraud department was looking into the matter.

She added: “If a customer is concerned they have been the innocent victim of fraud, they should report it to us immediately.”

A spokeswoman for APACS, the UK payments association, said the chip and pin system in this country had forced fraudsters to go abroad.

She said: “They are still using the magnetic strip and signature system in the US, so it is easier to do.

“Unfortunately, fraud is a part of everyday life, but people can reduce the risk by making sure they keep all their details safe and dispose of personal information safely.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the matter was not the subject of an investigation by the force.

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