Man allegedly threatened to out Grindr match unless he handed over $1,300
An Australian man has been charged with blackmail after allegedly demanding money from a Grindr match in exchange for not outing him.
According to 9 News, Timothy Ruge threatened to expose the unnamed Grindr user in March of this year.
The 34-year-old reportedly made the threat and then demanded the man meet him at a local train station to hand over the money.
Ruge is said to have demanded 1,300 Australian dollars, equivalent to more than £700, in exchange for not outing the app user as gay.
CCTV footage shows Ruge at the Southern Cross train station, where it is claimed he told his victim to meet him.
The 34-year-old represented himself in a hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday, where he was formally charged with blackmail.
After his hearing, Ruge reportedly said to AAP that the incident involved “unfortunate circumstances.”
Ruge will return to court with legal representation on July 23.
There have been several noted cases of attempted blackmail and extortion through the popular gay dating app.
In 2016, a British man, Liam Hull, was jailed for more than two years after he received thousands of pounds in blackmail money from his victims, some of who were married to women and had children, but had used Grindr to hook up with men.
One victim paid Hull thousands of pounds, while another was forced to come out to his wife.
A third victim suffered a mild stroke following the threats.
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Hull used Grindr to contact dozens of victims across the South of England, but many were too scared to come forward to help police in case their identities became public.
The perpetrator pleaded guilty to three counts of blackmail. He was told by Judge Richard Foster of the Former Chief Justice Lord Lane’s words on blackmail.
Judge Foster told him: “Lord Lane said that in the calendar of criminal offences, blackmail was one of the ugliest and most vicious because it involved what one found so often, the attempted murder of the soul.”
In 2017, a PinkNews exclusive revealed cases of gay tourists being targeted and blackmailed by criminals in Dubai on the app.
A spokesperson for the International Lesbian and Gay Association told PinkNews: “Unfortunately, episodes of blackmailing are still far too common, especially in countries where the State itself seems to encourage human rights violations with laws that criminalise consensual sexual behaviour.”