A Compton man has been accused of using the Grindr dating site to lure more than 20 gay men on dates who tuned in to robberies, sometimes at knifepoint, over the past two years, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.
Derrick Patterson, 24, was charged with more than 30 counts of robbery, burglary, grand theft and assault, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Patterson pleaded guilty last year to federal charges stemming from similar behavior, but the media attention surrounding his arrest prompted other victims to come forward, according to the District Deputy. Lawyer Ricardo Ceballos.
The robberies took place between March 2020 and March 2022, ending just weeks before Patterson was arrested in Inglewood last year. In at least two incidents, Patterson attacked his victims with a knife, prosecutors allege.
Ceballos said Patterson used a profile with the image of a different person to arrange meetings with men in their homes. Many times, she would tell her victims that she needed to use their cell phones to view pornography to get aroused, Ceballos said. Once he had access to his phones, Patterson used payment apps like Venmo to send money to himself or send money to the accounts of other victims whose phones he had stolen, according to Ceballos.
“When victims started getting alerts on their credit card, Venmo, PayPal, a lot of these transactions were going through other victims,” he said.
Sometimes Patterson would order the men to leave the doors open and wait for him in a bedroom, and then they would start ransacking their houses. In cases where victims realized Patterson’s intentions were more criminal than sexual, Ceballos said, he would threaten them or claim he had accomplices waiting outside who would bulldoze their homes if they didn’t comply.
Ceballos filed a hate crime complaint against Patterson, noting that he would specifically target gay victims because he believed they were “easy targets” and sometimes used anti-gay slurs during attacks. In some cases, Patterson had sex with the victims and stole money using her phones during sex, Ceballos said.
Federal prosecutors announced Patterson’s arrest in April and filed charges involving 21 victims, but only five of those victims filed charges that fell within federal jurisdiction, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. who said his office worked closely with Los Angeles County prosecutors.
Patterson was ultimately given a nine-year federal prison sentence as part of a plea deal. He was transferred from federal custody to Los Angeles for an arraignment last week, where he pleaded not guilty. If he is convicted on all counts, he faces up to 60 years in prison, Ceballos said.
Ceballos also expressed his frustration with Grindr. He said the app was unresponsive after several victims raised security concerns about Patterson’s account, saying that when police obtained a search warrant for information about Paterson’s account, the app said it had nothing to turn over. .
While not directly addressing Ceballos’ complaints, a Grindr spokesperson said the company takes all reports of abuse seriously and cooperates with law enforcement.
“We encourage users to be careful when interacting with people they don’t know,” spokesman Patrick Lenihan said. “We encourage our users to report inappropriate or illegal behavior within the app.”