Compton Man Used Dating App To Rob More Than 20 Gay Men

It should be common practice to exercise caution when using these “dating apps” — but if there was ever a need for a reminder, let this unfortunate tale be it. A Compton man has been charged with more than 30 counts of robbery, burglary, grand theft and assault.

Derrick Patterson, 24, used the gay dating app Grindr to victimize more than 20 gay men. Patterson would use images of other men as his profile picture (otherwise known as catfishing), to engage in conversation with the victims. After leading the men on to believe that he was interested in them for casual sex, Patterson would then meet up with them to intentionally rob and/or threaten them. The crimes occurred between March 2020 and March 2022.

Derrick Patterson / Credit: Screenshot via LA Times
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Cases differed, as Patterson would ask to use a victims phone to “watch porn,” when in-fact he was using their money transfer apps such as Venmo to send money to himself (or to phones that he had stolen from previous victims). On other occasions, he would demand the men wait for him in their bedroom with their apartment door unlocked. Once he arrived, he’d ransack their home. The victims (all stemming from Grindr), would be met with violent threats, often at knife point if they tried to interfere.

Credit: Screenshot via pymnts.com

Patterson actually pleaded guilty last April to similar offenses. But the media attention that this case garnered lead to many other victims coming forward. Richard Ceballos, the Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County hit Patterson with more than 30 federal offenses.

Related Post: Texas Man Gets 15 Years in Prison for Using Grindr to Rob Gay Men

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Ceballos filed a hate crime enhancement against Patterson because he believed he specifically targeted gay men because he believed they were “soft targets” and would use anti-gay slurs during his criminal acts. Patterson did have actual sex with some of the victims, but Ceballos said they would figure out something was wrong when they’d receive money transaction notifications after they’ve hooked up, which they never authorized.

“When the victims started getting alerts on their credit card, Venmo, PayPal, a lot of these transactions were being made through other victims,” says Ceballos.

Ceballos (who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community), is also frustrated with the Grindr app, insinuating that they did not take the safety concerns of the victims seriously. He also suggested that they were not very helpful in turning over information about Patterson’s account that he used to commit the crimes. As of December 2021, Grindr has roughly 11 million monthly active users. A spokesman for Grindr said that they take all reports of abuse seriously.

Richard Ceballos / Credit: facebook.com/richardceballos
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“We encourage users to be careful when interacting with people they do not know. We encourage our users to report improper or illegal behavior either within the app.” -Patrick Lenihan, Grindr spokesperson

Derrick Patterson was originally sentenced to nine years in federal prison as part of his guilty plea deal last year, but amid these new charges — he was transferred out of federal custody to face arraignment, where he plead not guilty to the multiple new charges. If convicted, he now faces up to 60 years in prison.


Source: LA Times

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