Man charged with posing as woman online to lure men to what turned out to be armed robberies

Rakeem Austin, 30, had bail set at $75,000 Monday on five charges each of armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and threats to commit a crime, but had his bail on six outstanding cases in two counties revoked.

As he stood behind a thick door well out of sight of the courtroom in Dorchester Municipal Court, Austin listened as a Suffolk County prosecutor said Austin could faces for additional "catfishing" robberies - Boston Police have linked him to three other cases involving men who could not ID him in a lineup and there may be more men who were robbed but didn't report it to police.

Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda said Austin posed as Lizzy S. and Candy B. on tagged.com and convinced the men romance awaited on Norfolk or Whitman Streets in Dorchester. When the men appeared, however, they were met not by a sultry siren but by a thin man with a gun - who took their phones, their wallets and if they had any, their jewelry before ordering them to lie on the ground and not look up as he ran away.

All the while, Granda continued, Austin's GPS bracelet, a condition of his release on earlier cases, was recording his location at the scene of the crimes.

Austin's final alleged robbery, around midnight on Nov. 21, involved a man who may have gotten to 33 Whitman St. before Austin was ready. The man managed to get inside the building - where he was met on the third floor by Austin, who allegedly told him "I don't like strangers in my hallway."

Not getting any responses on tagged.com to his messages to his alleged date for the evening the man left - followed by Austin, who pointed a gun at him and ordered him to the ground. Instead of complying, Granda said, the man ran to his car and made his getaway, although not before Austin managed to grab his phone and pull his $2,000 necklace off his neck.

She continued police found Austin asleep on a couch around the corner at 17 Edson St. - with the last victim's phone in the room, along with the phone investigators say Austin used to post to tagged.com.

Granda had asked Judge Lisa Grant for $250,000 bail on the new cases, citing Austin's extensive criminal records, which includes convictions on gun and drug charges.

Austin's attorney, David Leon, asked for bail of just $2,500. Austin "adamantly denies" committing the robberies and the attorney said the alleged victims could prove to have "credibility problems" because they may have been looking for paid sex.

He said Austin grew up in Dorchester, and his entire family lived there, so he has nowhere to run. Plus, he continued, Austin has "six young children who are very important to him and whom he helps to support." Several family members attended the arraignment.

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