COMPTON, Ca. (KTLA) — A Compton, California man pleaded guilty to felony charges for targeting and robbing Los Angeles-area men he met on a dating app.
Derrick Patterson, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and one count of aggravated identity theft for his role in robbing five different men he met on Grindr, a dating site for gay men and other members of the queer community.
Patterson admitted to targeting his victims using the app and arranging meetups at hotels or the victims’ homes under the pretense of having sex, but with the actual intent to rob them, according to the United States Department of Justice.
The robberies happened between June 2021 and March 2022, the DOJ said.
In one robbery in July 2021, Patterson asked to use the victim’s phone and then went into the kitchen where he grabbed a knife and threatened the victim. He then used the victim’s Venmo account and made a payment to himself totaling $3,950. He also used the account to pay for two hotel transactions and sent text messages to the victim’s friends and family in Nevada to ask for money.
In February 2022, Patterson entered another victim’s home and asked if he could use their phone. Once the victim turned away, Patterson pulled out a stun gun and chased the victim down. He demanded cash and jewelry and then used the victim’s phone to reach out to their contacts for more money. He also used the victim’s Apple Pay account to open up a line of credit which he then used to purchase a pair of Apple AirPods at a price of about $273, the DOJ said.
Patterson was eventually arrested and charged for the robberies. He admitted assaulting one victim and using a homophobic slur in another robbery. In another incident, he threatened to shoot one of his victims in a hotel room.
Patterson now faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison for the robberies. He is due back in court on Sept. 19 for sentencing.
Despite already pleading guilty, an active FBI investigation is ongoing and authorities are looking into the possibility that there may be more victims. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim or targeted by Patterson is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.