A MAN from Bournemouth who had his identity stolen and found £17,500 missing from his building society account has urged other consumers to be vigilant.

Chris McCarthy, of Glencoe Road, was checking his online Nationwide account in March this year when he was left stunned to see two cash withdrawals on his statement for £9,000 and £8,500.

He immediately called the building society to alert them to the fraud and was told the transactions had occurred on separate days at branches in Winchester and Basingstoke – some 60 miles from where he usually does his banking in Southbourne.

Mr McCarthy said Nationwide’s fraud department was unable to call him back on his correct number the following day after it emerged that his contact details had been changed weeks before by the fraudster.

“They said this person had been able to answer all my security questions, produce a debit card and even obtained a driving licence in my name,” he added.

“The thought of somebody having all of those details is terrifying.

“Had I lost my wallet I would have understood.

“But I had done nothing and it was only by chance that I had checked my online account.”

Following the fraud Mr McCarthy said he was left unable to use his bank card, had direct debits fail and was chased for bill payments by his utility suppliers.

Aware that the fraudster had gone into the building society’s branches, he said he asked staff to check its CCTV and involve the police.

He added: “It’s been a nightmare.

“I think the general public should know just how easy it can be to be defrauded.”

A spokesperson for Nationwide said Mr McCarthy had the missing money quickly refunded to his account and CCTV footage has been passed to Action Fraud to investigate.