A Compton man pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal criminal charges for stealing from men he met on the online dating app Grindr, officials said.
Derrick Patterson, 23, admitted robbing five people from June 2021 to March 2022. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Patterson would contact people on Grindr, meet them at their homes or hotel rooms — allegedly for sex — and then ask to use their phones, according to his plea deal.
In July 2021, Patterson took possession of a man’s phone and threatened him with a kitchen knife before stealing $3,950 from the man’s Venmo account and making two purchases on Hotels.com. He also used the phone to ask the victim’s friends and family for money, officials said.
In another incident, Patterson took a man’s phone and chased him with a stun gun, demanding money and later jewelry. Using the stolen phone, Patterson requested money from the man’s contacts and opened a line of credit in the man’s name. Patterson then bought AirPods and a hotel room, authorities said.
Grindr is a social networking platform for gay, bisexual, transgender, gay men and men who have sex with men.
NBCLA has reached out to Grindr to comment on the matter and the security of the app.
A Grindr spokesperson replied:
“Grindr takes the privacy and security of our users very seriously and we are constantly working to better protect our users. Grindr publishes a Holistic Safety Guide and Safety tips available from the Grindr app and on the Grindr website, and we encourage users to be careful when interacting with people they don’t know. We encourage our users to report inappropriate or illegal behavior, either within the app or directly via email to [email protected], and to report criminal allegations to the authorities, and in these cases we work with law enforcement. of the order, if any.”
Tips for dating safely online
- Research potential dates on social media
- Meet in public places, preferably during the day
- Tell a friend where you are going
- Have your own means of transport
It’s not just The Tinder Swindler. $547 million was lost to romance scams in 2021, up 80% from the previous year. Unfortunately, dating apps cannot guarantee that the person you are messaging has your best interests in mind. So we spoke to sex and relationship researcher Justin Lehmiller for advice on how to protect yourself from scams when looking for love.
For more dating app safety tips, click here.