The victims were robbed at gunpoint, with one forced to drive to a local ATM to withdraw cash.
DALLAS — A 24-year-old man accused of using the Grindr dating app to target gay men pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of kidnapping and conspiracy, federal authorities said.
Michael Atkinson used Grindr to lure gay men to different areas around Dallas, including a vacant apartment, where he robbed, carjacked and kidnapped them, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.
Atkinson faces up to life in prison for the kidnapping charge and five years for the conspiracy charge.
Daniel Jenkins, 19, was also indicted in the case in January, according to authorities. It was unclear whether his case was still pending this week.
A 15-count indictment detailed the allegations against the two men. They set up fake profiles on Grindr, a dating app geared toward the gay community, and lured gay men to the Solana Ridge apartments in Pleasant Grove, the indictment said.
For about one week in December 2017, Atkinson and Jenkins lured at least nine men, aged 19 to 57, to the apartments, according to authorities.
The victims were robbed at gunpoint, with one forced to drive to a local ATM to withdraw cash. Jenkins was accused of pointing a gun at one victim, physically assaulting at least two others and calling them homophobic slurs.
One of the victims in the case was sexually assaulted and another smeared with human feces, authorities said.
“The Northern District of Texas will not tolerate criminals who single out victims based on their sexual orientation,” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a statement Thursday. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve seen despicable crimes committed on apps like Grindr. I want to urge the public to be vigilant online and recognize the dangers that are lurking there.”