A gambling addict who posed as a policeman to con an vulnerable woman out of £2,000 has avoided jail.
Anthony Whelan took advantage of the elderly woman after realising she was a "bit of a soft touch," Teesside Magistrates' Court heard.
The 38-year-old from Stockton helped fix the woman's laptop but followed up the service with messages asking her for cash.
In an effort to get more money out of her, Whelan posed as a police officer from Northumbria Police's Criminal Investigation Department.
It is understood Whelan sent her texts several times a day, resulting in the woman transferring Whelan £2,000, TeessideLive reported.
Whelan later admitted his fraud in a police interview, claiming he had committed the offence because he was a gambling addict.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud by false representation at a hearing on Wednesday April 28.
The court heard Whelan had no previous convictions.
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Mitigating, Whelan's solicitor, Alex Bousfield said Whelan regretted what happened and has already started paying money back to his victim.
Mr Bousfield said at the time of the offence Whelan had a "problem with gambling" and was going through a breakdown "of his relationship."
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The solicitor said: "She has been a bit of a soft touch really and he's taken advantage of that."
"There are a number of mental health issues."
Magistrates sentenced Whelan, of St Peters Road, Bowesfield, Stockton, to an 18 month community order, 200 hours unpaid work, 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and ordered he pay £1,700 compensation.
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