Robbers trap ‘Lonely’ gay Grindr user

The three men who were arrested in Woodstock are suspected to be involved in a string of robberies involving gay men on Grindr. Picture: Reuters/Aly Song/Illustration

The three men who were arrested in Woodstock are suspected to be involved in a string of robberies involving gay men on Grindr. Picture: Reuters/Aly Song/Illustration

Published Jun 21, 2024


Cape Town - Three men arrested in Woodstock are suspected to be involved in a string of robberies involving gay men on Grindr.

This comes after two men, aged 45 and 50, were assaulted and robbed just days apart in Cape Town.

In the latest incident, a 50-year-old man was abducted on June 14 after Hawks detectives investigated irregular banking activities and managed to track the suspects to a house in the neighbourhood following a tip-off.

Three days earlier on June 11, a 45-year-old man who reportedly lost his spouse and turned to the dating app was supposed to meet a person at a coffee shop in Sea Point, but he was given a new venue in Shortmarket Street, Bo-Kaap, when he was ambushed by two suspects.

According to, the victim was strangled and forced upstairs where he was tied up with shoelaces and socks, stripped naked and filmed.

The men, armed with a gun and knife, threatened to kill him.

When they couldn’t get money from his account, they forced him to call his sister and they managed to get away with R3 000.

Hawks spokesperson, Zinzi Hani, said the three kidnappers, between the ages of 33 and 37 years, were arrested last Friday.

She couldn’t confirm that the trio were the Grindr scammers.

“It is reported that on June 14 at about 7pm, the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation team received information regarding a kidnapping.

“Upon receiving the information, analysis was made and linking the information to suspicious banking activities and transfer patterns by the suspects to various banks.

“This led the team to tracking the hostage’s phone which was active in the Woodstock area,” said Hani.

Police spokesperson, Joseph Swartbooi said the circumstances surrounding the incident on June 11 are still under investigation.

“According to reports the complainant, a male aged 45, met an unknown male at an identified premises in Shortmarket Street, Bo-Kaap on Tuesday June 11, 2024.

“They were joined by two unknown armed males who assaulted the complainant and robbed him of an undisclosed amount of cash.

“The suspects tied the victim and fled the scene.

“The victim managed to untie himself and reported the matter to the police for further investigation.

“Cape Town Central police registered a case of robbery with a firearm for further investigation.”

U-Watch Woodstock Neighbourhood Watch warned residents on their Facebook page: “Please be aware of the scam that may have dangerous or deadly circumstances. What is positive is that the Hawks may have caught these scammers in Woodstock. Note there is no evidence to indicate that these criminals are from Woodstock.”

The Triangle Project, which works to eradicate discrimination against LGBTQIA+ communities, warned lonely people to take precaution while searching for love on the internet.

Communications officer, Ling Sheperd, said unfortunately, incidents of this nature were becoming increasingly frequent, especially targeting members of the LGBTQIA+ community through dating apps like Grindr.

“While precise statistics are difficult to obtain due to under-reporting, these cases have been documented repeatedly over the past few years.

“The recent incident is one among many, with similar cases reported in regions such as Gauteng, Durban, and now Cape Town.

“Just last year, four men were arrested in Durban in connection with 13 similar cases, including a tragic murder.”

Ling said the LGBTQIA+ community in particular was targeted.

“Perpetrators often exploit the social stigma and potential fear of outing that LGBTQIA+ individuals may face, making them more vulnerable to such attacks.

“These incidents are not only robberies but are often considered hate crimes due to the targeting based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“By following precautions, users can reduce the risk of falling victim to such crimes. It's crucial for the community to continue advocating for better protection and response from authorities to ensure the safety and rights of all individuals.”

Ling shared safety tips for internet daters: “Meet in public places. Always arrange first meetings in well-populated, public areas like cafés or parks. Tell Someone, inform a trusted friend or family member about your plans, including who you are meeting, where, and at what time. Verify profiles, cautious of profiles with limited information or that seem too good to be true. Use reverse image searches to check profile photos.”

An appeal is made to anyone with information to please call Crime Stop at 08600 10111.

[email protected]

Cape Argus