Portsmouth police warn of ‘fake friends’ targeting the disabled

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VULNERABLE people are being targeted by ‘fake friends’ who exploit them for cash, police have warned.

Officers in Portsmouth have launched a new campaign to highlight the growing problem of ‘mate crime’ in the area.

The offence sees a crook befriending another person with the intent of exploiting the so-called ‘friendship’.

Examples of this abuse can include regularly using all the victim’s mobile phone credit without paying it back, or borrowing money and never reimbursing it.

PC Kate Hollis said: ‘The perpetrator intentionally “makes friends”, more often than not, with a vulnerable individual who has mental health problems or a learning disability.

‘Often the friendships can develop over several weeks or months before the abuse starts, and can continue and worsen if left unchecked.’

Officers are now urging people to be aware of the crime and to speak out to a trusted loved one or carer if they feel victimised.