People have connected for years through dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr.
But criminals also use these apps.
Matthew Beckoff, a man police say was robbed at gunpoint in Myrtle Beach, shared his story with News13 in hopes it’ll help others.
Beckoff said he thinks criminals target gay dating apps, because they hope the victims will be scared to report the crime.
In December, Matthew was in town visiting family and decided to meet up with some people he met on Grindr, which is an app primarily used by gay men to meet other gay men.
“As I’m driving down the street I stop in front of the house, someone runs in front of the car, opens the passenger door, comes in with a gun pointing like that in my face,” Beckoff describes.
He said the suspects took his phone, wallet and some cash.
Dlanor Phillip Tilton, 19, has since been charged with three counts of armed robbery as well as possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Mazar Nathaniel Sturdivant faces the same charges.
Shamoray Rockel Holmes is charged with armed robbery.
The charges are in connection to this case and two others that happened around the same time.
“I think the nature of the crime made these defendants think that they could get away with it, because people would be embarrassed,” Beckoff said. “And I thought, you know, for the safety of my family that lives down here I have to do something. I have to come forward, I have to tell me story.”
But not everyone in the LGBT community would feel comfortable coming forward.
If their name gets associated with a gay dating app, Terry Livingston, the co-founder of Grand Strand PRIDE, said some people may feel pushback from their family or coworkers.
“In South Carolina there are no work place protections for the LGBT community, so you know it’s very possible they fear that they would lose their job if they go to the police,” Livingston said.
Livingston said he’s talked to Myrtle Beach police about dealing with LGBT crime victims.
“You know, make people aware, ‘don’t be afraid to report your crime.'”
Police want every victim of a crime to report it. However, there are other ways to go about it if a victim is as afraid to report the crime as being a victim of the crime itself.
That includes reaching out to crisis intervention and mental health counselors.