Four men from Texas have been indicted on federal hate crimes for allegedly targeting gay men using dating app Grindr in a string of alleged robberies.
The men, Anthony Shelton, 19, Nigel Garrett, 21, Chancler Encalade, 20, and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, were named in the indictment by a federal grand jury on Wednesday.
The indictment argues that the men used gay dating app Grindr to scope out their victims, posing on the app to try and arrange dates at people’s homes.
The case alleges that after being invited over, the men would then assault and restrain their victims, while making “derogatory statements” about their sexual orientation.
They would then steal personal property, including cars, from their victims, according to the US Department of Justice.
The indictment states that the home invasions occurred in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas, between 17th January and 7th February 2017.
And in addition to charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking and possession of a firearm, they face hate crime charges for allegedly targeting gay men.
The hate crime charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Speaking about the indictment, Jeanne Rubin, President of the North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said: “You can be scared as a homeowner if your neighbor is robbed but it’s different if you feel like you’re being targeted for some reason and in this case a whole community can feel like they’re targeted.”