The men’s stories followed a similar pattern: They met a date found on LGBTQ hookup app Grindr, he asked to borrow their phones, and then erupted in threats and violence before robbing her, they said federal prosecutor.
Derrick Patterson, 23, of Compton, Tuesday pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of robbing men he met through Grindr from June 2021 to March 2022.
The victims said Patterson met them in their homes or hotel rooms for sexual encounters and then asked to borrow their phones before threatening and robbing them.
Patterson punched one victim in the back of the head and stabbed another in the chest, prosecutors said in an indictment. During a robbery, he used homophobic slurs and, according to court records, told one victim, “You’re all the same.”
Patterson grabbed a knife from a man’s kitchen and threatened a man with a stun gun during another robbery, according to court records and FBI agents.
In one of the most recent robberies detailed by prosecutors, a man described in court documents as JS met Patterson in a hotel room at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Shortly after his arrival, Patterson asked if he could watch porn on JS’ cellphone, according to the FBI. JS gave him the phone and soon suspected that Patterson was locking himself out of the device on purpose. Patterson wanted to watch as JS typed in the four-digit passcode—the same code JS used for online banking.
The encounter quickly turned sour: Patterson threatened to shoot JS and stole his phone and wallet, FBI agent George Maloney claimed in court filings. Within hours, Patterson began draining JS’s accounts, withdrawing $600 from ATMs and taking $1,800 from Venmo and $2,000 from Zelle, the agent said.
In June 2021, prosecutors said Patterson used a man’s phone to steal about $780 in cryptocurrency and $700 from a checking account.
In another encounter, Patterson threatened a man with a knife and demanded his wallet. Patterson then used the victim’s bank account to book hotel rooms and stole nearly $4,000 from his Venmo account, prosecutors said. He texted the victim’s friends and family to send the victim money, which court records say he was trying to intercept.
In February 2022, Patterson used a stun gun to rob a man and used the victim’s phone to open a line of credit with Goldman Sachs, prosecutors said. Patterson then went to a T-Mobile store in Los Angeles and used the line of credit to buy a pair of Apple AirPods.
When Patterson was arrested in April, prosecutors said he had targeted 21 victims over a two-year period. On Tuesday, Patterson pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery, defined as robbery affecting interstate commerce, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Patterson’s sentencing is scheduled for September before US District Judge John F. Walter. He faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.
Michael Finnegan, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-12/grindr-robberies-man-pleads-guilty-federal-charges Man who used Grindr to target robbery victims pleads guilty