An Irvine mum has spoken of her terror after almost being duped out of nearly £5,000 from scammers claiming to be HMRC.

Donna Fitzpatrick says she was called by a man claiming to be from Revenue and Customs and told she had defrauded the Government out of £4,890 and would be arrested within the hour if she did not pay the money back.

Donna, who runs the Fullarton Community Hub and is a huge force in the area through her volunteer work, says the man knew so many personal details about her that she believed him.

Donna, who won the Rotary Champions award last month, said: “He knew my mobile number, my National Insurance number, my date of birth, my address and postcode and where I have a bank account.

“I was so taken aback. He sounded so official and talked me through the process. He said there was a warrant out for my arrest and I would be apprehended within the hour. I was absolutely terrified. He even said to me ‘Donna, how will your three sons feel about you being in prison?’. I just immediately thought how does he know I have three sons if he isn’t genuine?”

Terrified, Donna headed straight to the bank and began the process of transferring the money. But when the mystery caller phoned again putting on pressure, she had second thoughts.

She told the Times: “He called me again while I was in the bank and started asking me to transfer the money in instalments and said “don’t draw attention to yourself” and that’s when alarm bells started going off in my head. I just got off the phone and left the bank and went straight to the police station.”

Donna reported the scammer to police and was astonished when he called a third time whilst she was speaking to officers.

She said: “He called again and I handed the phone to the police officer who introduced himself and he was still trying to claim he was from HMRC. Once the officer started asking him more questions he eventually hung up.”

Donna says although she didn’t lose any money, she has been left totally traumatised by the scam and is warning others to be on their guard.

She said: “I am still not right. I haven’t slept since it happened. I feel totally violated and upset by it.

“I am a strong person and am not easily fooled but this guy knew so much about me it was impossible not to think he was genuine.

“I have since learned that HMRC would never contact you by phone, which I didn’t know and I bet there are others who wouldn’t know that either. I just hope that by sharing what happened to me I can save someone else from going through what I did.”

Police have since urged residents to be aware of a similar scam involving fake text messages allegedly from HMRC.

The scammers target individuals by texting them advising that they are due a tax refund or rebate. Within the text is a link that if clicked takes the individual to a webpage that looks like a genuine HMRC page where they are asked to input their bank account and sort code. Rather than a tax refund, funds are then removed from the victim’s bank account.

PC Colin Johnson, Preventions and Interventions Officer for North Ayrshire, said: “These texts and the linked website look very convincing however we advise caution when receiving unsolicited texts or emails.”

“HMRC will never send notifications by email or text about tax rebates or refunds and advise that you do not click on any links, open any attachments or disclose any personal or payment information. If you are unsure of any correspondence from HMRC contact them direct to confirm it is legitimate."