A New South Wales man has been jailed for impersonating a police officer and extorting money from a man he met on gay hookup app Grindr.
Jayson Hastie contacted the victim on Grindr using a fake profile under the name of ‘Alex’ and spent two weeks exchanging sexually explicit messages and phone calls with him, the Illawarra Mercury reported.
In March, the 25-year-old organised a meeting with the older victim, at which the victim was greeted by a friend of Hastie’s before Hastie arrived and got into the victim’s vehicle.
Hastie reportedly told the victim he was an undercover police officer and told him, “You have been pinged.”
He said a tracking device he was holding would bring other officers to their location.
The victim later told real police officers he was “terrified” by the ordeal and had agreed to Hastie’s demand for $2000, driving to a local shopping centre to withdraw the money.
He also agreed to give Hastie weekly financial “help” after Hastie threatened to pass transcripts and photos from their Grindr interactions to police.
After the victim had paid him, Hastie allegedly told the man, “If you ever do this again, I’ll break both your legs.”
Hastie pleaded guilty to charges of demanding money with menace and impersonating a police officer, in exchange for prosecutors dropping a more serious charge of kidnapping, the Mercury reported. Hastie was ordered to serve 20 months’ jail time, with a non-parole period of nine months.
Wollongong Local Court Magistrate Peter Thompson said that by falsely posing a police officer, Hastie had contributed to an “undermining of the confidence the community might have in police officers.”
He said Hastie’s offending involved a “significant degree of planning”, but found he had good prospects of rehabilitation.
In November, Queensland police urged users of dating and hookup apps to be mindful of their personal safety after a Brisbane man was allegedly assaulted and robbed during a meeting with someone he’d interacted with on Grindr.
In August, a Melbourne man plead guilty to making an unwarranted demand for money with menace after he demanded another man he met on Grindr pay him $1300 in return for not telling the victim’s girlfriend.