Terrified pensioner paid £10,000 to crook he met on Grindr so he wouldn’t out him

Maggie Baska
·3-min read

An English man pocketed more than £10,000 after threatening to reveal the sexuality of two gay men he met on Grindr, according to reports.

James Vasey from Redcar was sentenced to 32 months behind bars after pleading guilty to two counts of blackmailing two men he met on Grindr, according to Gazette Live. The court heard the 24-year-old demanded the two men give him cash to keep their sexuality a secret.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said Vacey’s actions were a “vicious offence”. The judge added that people, who chose not to disclose their sexuality, “are entitled to dignity and respect for the choices they have made”. He said Vasey “used that against them”.

“You used it as a weapon against them and what you did amounts to little more than psychological torture,” Carroll said.

The Teesside Crown Court heard one victim, who is a pensioner referred to in court as victim A, paid Vasey £9,950 while the other man gave Vasey £120.

Prosecutor Jon Harley said victim A started talking to Vasey on Grindr before exchanging numbers. Harley explained the pair met and went back to the victim’s home for what the victim described as a “one night stand’.

He said the victim initially agreed to give Vasey some money to help him out. According to Harley, Vasey contacted victim A in the run-up to Christmas asking for more money, but the victim said he couldn’t help. He said Vasey texted the victim on Christmas Day, saying: “I think it’s time people found out what you are like”.

Harley said Vasey said the victim would have to pay him “at least £100, or he would be speaking to his family”. Gazette Live reported that the victim said he would give the man £150 if he never heard from Vasey again. The news outlet said he gave Vasey the money, but Vasey contacted victim A again saying he was “unhappy” about the way he was spoken to.

The court heard that Vasey kept pressuring the victim for more money until victim A eventually took out a loan and transferred him £8,000 – taking the total amount paid to Vasey up to £9,950. Harley said that, after Vasey demanded a further £10,000, the victim decided to call the police.

The court heard how Vasey was arrested on 12 January 2020, and police seized his mobile phone. Officers reportedly discovered that Vasey was also blackmailing another male at the same time he was taking money from victim A.

Harley said Vasey met the second man, referred to as victim B, on Grindr as well. He said they had met up, and victim B paid Vasey £120. Harley said Vasery tried to ask the other man for more money, but victim B said he couldn’t afford to give him anything more.

Gazette Live reported Harley also read a victim impact statement to the court on behalf of victim A. Victim A said the incident made him feel “sick to my stomach”, “frightened” and “worried”. The victim impact statement read: “I have no appetite, and I cannot sleep.

“I feel like I should have known better, and I fell for this scam.”

Gazette Live reported victim B said he still felt apprehensive about going out alone and is concerned about going online to meet anyone because of the incident.

Nigel Soppitt, who was defending Vasey, said his client is an openly gay man. He described Vasey as an “immature” person who “simply did not think at all about what he was doing at that particular time”.

“The young man himself seems to be a man without any malice or any even in his body in the short time I have met him,” Soppitt said.