Gay bar revellers drugged and robbed of thousands via facial recognition on their phones

A do not cross barrier in a New York street.

Three men were drugged and robbed at a New York gay bar after thieves used facial recognition to rob them.

The New York Police Department confirmed on Thursday (2 February) that three men in their late 30s and 40s were reportedly robbed at a gay leather bar named The Eagle in Chelsea.

Officers believe that, after the men were drugged and knocked out, robbers used facial recognition to unlock their phones and siphon the funds from their bank accounts.

The incidents took place on separate nights in October and November 2022, with each of the men being robbed of $1,000 to $5,000.

“What we think is happening with this scheme is they’re being lured away from the club,” Captain Robert Gault said in a statement. “And then, once they get into a car to do whatever it is they’re going to do, at some point or another, they don’t know what happened when they wake up.”

The Eagle posted security footage of two men interacting with bar patrons outside the venue in a deleted Instagram message from January, according to NBC News.

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“Do not take rides from these guys,” the message reportedly read. “We are told that they have someone in a car waiting for these guys to bring someone.”

A similar incident occurred in a nearby New York City bar, in which a 19-year-old female and a 42-year-old man were robbed in the same month.

When asked whether the cases were linked, a spokesperson added: “All five cases have the same MO.”

Officials also said that the two cases were not related to any other pattern of robberies happening in the city.

Investigations are ongoing, but police have been able to identify at least one phone number connected to the suspects.

Grindr users drugged and robbed by thieves during hook-ups

A similar set of incidents occurred in London between December and January after Grindr users were drugged and robbed by four men pretending to look for hookups.

Metropolitan Police received at least four reports of drug-enabled burglaries in various parts of London connected to the app.

Two of the suspects, who are now believed to have left the country, reportedly met the victims in person after chatting on the same-sex dating app.

Officials advised users to exercise caution when meeting strangers through the app, recommending various tips to ensure their safety such as hiding valuables and informing friends about the date.

“Although the suspects have fled the country and the risk to the community is reduced, we are continuing to engage with our partners and those from LGBT independent advisory groups,” investigating superintendent Dan O’Sullivan said in a statement.

“If you have been a victim, you can report in confidence to us or speak to an officer from the LGBTQ+ community.”