A Compton man pleaded guilty this week to federal criminal charges for targeting and robbing Los Angeles-area gay men he met on the Grindr online dating application.
Derrick Patterson, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Patterson admitted in his plea agreement to robbing five victims from June 2021 to March 2022. According to his plea agreement, Patterson targeted his victims by using Grindr, a social networking platform for gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Patterson met his victims at their homes or in hotel rooms under the pretense of sexual encounters. Once there, Patterson asked to use the victims’ phones.
During a July 2021 incident, one victim gave his phone to Patterson, who went to the victim’s kitchen, pulled out a kitchen knife, threatened the victim, and then used the victim’s Venmo account to steal $3,950. Patterson also used the victim’s online account to pay for two Hotels.com transactions, and he used the victim’s phone to send text messages to the victim’s friends and family in Nevada to request that they send the victim money, which Patterson intended to intercept.
In February 2022, Patterson entered another victim’s residence under the pretense of a sexual encounter. Patterson asked if he could use the victim’s phone. After the victim handed Patterson the phone, the victim turned away and then heard a stun gun activating. Patterson chased the victim with the stun gun and demanded money. The victim gave $120 to Patterson, who then demanded jewelry.
After Patterson left the victim’s home, he used the phone to ask the victim’s contacts for money. Patterson also used the victim’s phone to access the victim’s Apple Pay account and open a line of credit in the victim’s name with Goldman Sachs. Patterson then went to a T-Mobile store in Los Angeles and used the Goldman Sachs credit line to purchase Apple Airpods costing approximately $273. Patterson also used the victim’s bank card to pay for a hotel room.
Patterson admitted during other robberies that he assaulted one victim – against whom he used a homophobic slur – and threatened to shoot another victim during an encounter in a hotel room.
United States District Judge John F. Walter scheduled a September 19 sentencing hearing, at which time Patterson will face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.
The FBI’s investigation is ongoing. The Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Beverly Hills Police Department have provided substantial assistance.
Assistant United States Attorney Jeremiah M. Levine of the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting this case.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim or targeted by Patterson is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office 24 hours a day at (310) 477-6565.