A Compton man was arrested on suspicion of targeting and robbing more than 20 gay men he met on a dating app, authorities announced Tuesday.
Derrick Patterson, 22, is charged in a federal criminal complaint with one count of robbery. He was taken into custody Monday by FBI agents.
The man has been tied to multiple robberies that happened between November 2019 and March 2022.
The robberies usually began the same way: Patterson would use the Grindr app to contact people, who he then met at their homes or hotel rooms, purportedly for sex, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He would then pull out different weapons, like knives or a taser gun, and demand they hand over their wallets and cell phones, officials said.
“On other occasions, Patterson physically assaulted his victims,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
After the robberies, Patterson allegedly withdrew money from victims’ bank accounts or used their credit cards, officials said.
“Mr. Patterson will attack them,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremiah Levine told KTLA. “He even stabbed one victim in the chest. He often threatens them with a taser; he’ll use pepper spray on victims. Sometimes he just beats his victim with his fists then makes off with the phone and transfers as much money as he can to the bank before that person can shut their accounts down.”
In one incident from September 2020, Patterson met one of his victims at a hotel on Century Boulevard in Los Angeles, and “while engaging in consensual sexual activity, took the victim’s phone,” officials said.
He then asked the victim for his password to access Apple Pay. When the victim refused and demanded his phone back, Patterson pulled out a taser and threatened him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Patterson allegedly activated the taser when the victim ran away.
The victim later returned to the room to find Patterson gone, along with his wallet.
Police later got a search warrant for Patterson’s phone number and were able to place him near the hotel’s location at the time of the robbery, as well as at a different Century Boulevard hotel where a similar robbery was reported just two hours earlier, authorities said.
In another robbery from October 2020, Patterson allegedly stabbed a victim in the chest, officials said.
That victim survived and was able to identify Patterson as his attacker, officials said.
The latest known robbery happened on March 26 at a hotel in Beverly Hills, according to authorities.
Officials said Patterson could face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
The FBI investigated the case with help from the Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Beverly Hills Police Department.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim or targeted by the defendant is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565.