A MAN extorted more than £10,000 out of two men he picked up on Grindr while threatening to reveal their homosexuality.
James Vasey’s ‘truly vicious’ plan to blackmail the two men came to a shuddering halt when one, known only as victim A, plucked up the courage to contact the police after handing over £9,950 from his him.
When police seized the 24-year-old’s mobile they discovered he had been targeting a second man, named only as victim B, but had only managed to extort £120 from him before he ignored the defendant’s attempts to secure more money.
Vasey used the men’s sexuality as a way of threatening and intimidating them to hand over the cash in December 2019, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Jon Harley, prosecuting, said the defendant had targeted victim A, who was described as a pensioner, on a number of occasions using his cousins as a threat to inflict violence on him if he didn’t hand over the cash.
Initially, it was for relatively small sums of money, £40 to £150, but the demands became increasingly sinister with Vasey telling the victim to get a loan to cover the cost of his final demand for £8,000.
In a personal impact statement, victim A said he felt ‘frustrated and stupid’ after being conned out of the money.
Mr Harley said victim B was now concerned about leaving his house in case he bumped into the defendant.
Vasey, of Aske Road, Redcar, admitted two charges of blackmail which took place in December 2019.
Nigel Soppitt, in mitigation, said his client had been living in ‘seedy’ accommodation at the time of the offence and Vasey handed over the money to another person.
He said: “It has had a profound affect on him and that shows this was an isolated incident.”
Judge Jonathan Carroll slammed Vasey for using the men’s homosexuality as a way of threatening them to extort money from his victims.
“It was a truly vicious offence, akin to psychological torture,” he said. “The worst thing is you threatened to take away their respect and dignity, and take out out of their hands something they didn’t wish to share.”
Vasey was jailed for two years and eight months and given indefinite restraining orders to protect his victims.