New Bedford Man Sentenced for Dating Website Robbery Scheme
FALL RIVER — A New Bedford man who worked with his girlfriend to rob men she met through dating websites has been sentenced to serve up to four years in state prison.
Luis Santos, 22, pleaded guilty in Fall River Superior Court to indictments charging him with three counts of armed robbery, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced.
According to the D.A.’s Office, Santos and his 23-year-old girlfriend Kerstyn Gross, set up a scheme in which they posted her photo and created profiles on various dating websites such as Meet Me and Plenty of Fish. The indictments charge that on at least three separate occasions, Santos would lie in wait while Gross met with the men, and then he would rob them at knifepoint.
The D.A.’s Office says on January 31, 2019, Gross met up with a man she met on Meet Me, and then conversed with on Facebook and Instagram, for a date in Dartmouth. Gross picked up the victim at his residence, and soon after pretended to get a flat tire and pulled over – at which point Santos jumped out of the woods with a knife and robbed the victim, leaving him stranded with no cash or cell phone.
The second incident was on December 28, 2019, when Gross met another man through Meet Me and asked him to meet her at a Tallman Street residence in New Bedford. However, the victim did not feel comfortable going there and instead asked to meet at a Dunkin’. There, Santos approached him with a machete and robbed him.
Then two days later, on December 30, 2019, Gross connected with a man through Plenty of Fish and arranged to meet him at that same Tallman Street address. When he arrived, she invited him inside, at which point Santos emerged with a large knife and robbed the victim of cash, a cell phone and a watch.
Gross pleaded guilty in New Bedford District Court last September to charges of larceny of a person, the D.A.’s Office said, and was sentenced to two and a half years in the Bristol County House of Correction, with one year to serve and balance suspended for three years. She also must undergo mental health counseling and stay away from Santos and the victims.
The D.A.’s Office also says Santos has a lengthy criminal record, and at the time of his arrest was already awaiting a final disposition on a drug possession case from 2017 in New Bedford District Court.
"It is no surprise that the defendant set up a scam to violently rob the victims. He has a history of violent conduct and was on release for dealing drugs when he committed this crime. He needs to be locked up to protect the public," District Attorney Quinn said.