In a series of crimes that have rattled the LGBTQ community in New York City, three men who visited a Chelsea gay bar, The Eagle NYC, have been robbed of thousands of dollars using facial recognition technology to access their phones. A 19-year-old female and a 42-year-old male who visited a non-LGBTQ bar, Hotel Chantelle, were also targeted by the same group of criminals in November and December. The New York Police Department confirmed the incidents, adding that the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made yet.
Capt. Robert Gault of the city’s 10th Precinct believes the criminals are luring the victims away from the club with the promise of drugs and then using facial recognition technology to access their phones and funds. The five incidents have been linked due to the same MO and authorities have been able to locate the license plate, vehicles, and phone numbers connected to the suspects.
In light of the recent crimes, New York City’s Office of Nightlife held a webinar to promote safety precautions for bar patrons, advising them against using facial recognition technology and to alert friends of their whereabouts.