Four Texas men have been charged with hate crimes after allegedly using the gay app Grindr to find men to assault and rob, officials announced Wednesday.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, charging each of them with conspiring to cause bodily injury to people because of their sexual orientation.
Between January and February, the men allegedly used the hook-up app to pose as gay and arrange to meet four victims at their homes in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, north of Dallas.
"Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants assaulted the victim, restrained the victim with tape, and made derogatory statements about the victim being gay," Justice Department officials said in a statement.
The men allegedly carried guns during their crime spree, robbing their victims of goods and cars.
The men have also been charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking, and possession of a firearm while committing their crimes.
The hate crime charges alone carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Among the safety tips listed on its website, Grindr advises users to not "rush into things" and to "tell a friend" if they plan on meeting up with other users.
"Make sure a responsible person you trust knows who you’re meeting, where you’re going, and when you’re planning on coming back," the app warns.
In November, a 41-year-old British man was found guilty of murdering four men he lured to his London apartment through Grindr and other means.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
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