Man admits stealing from gay men he met on dating app
COMPTON, approx. (KTLA) — A Compton, Calif., man has pleaded guilty to felony charges of 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 impersonation for his role in robbing five different men he met on Grindr, a gay dating site and other members of the queer community.
Patterson admitted to targeting his victims using the app and arranging meetings at hotels or victims’ homes under the guise of having sex, but with the actual intention of robbing them, according to the Department of United States Justice.
The thefts took place between June 2021 and March 2022, the DOJ said.
During a robbery in July 2021, Patterson asked to use the victim’s phone, then went into the kitchen where he grabbed a knife and threatened the victim. He then used the victim’s Venmo account and paid himself a total amount of $3,950. He also used the account to pay for two hotel transactions and texted the victim’s friends and family in Nevada asking for money.
In February 2022, Patterson walked into another victim’s house and asked if he could use his phone. Once the victim turned away, Patterson pulled out a stun gun and chased after the victim. He demanded money and jewelry, then used the victim’s phone to contact his contacts for more money. He also used the victim’s Apple Pay account to open a line of credit which he then used to purchase a pair of Apple AirPods retail for around $273, the DOJ said.
Patterson was eventually arrested and charged with the thefts. He admitted to assaulting a 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 September 19 for sentencing.
Although he has already pleaded guilty, an active FBI investigation is ongoing and authorities are investigating the possibility of more victims. Anyone who believes they have been victimized or targeted by Patterson is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.