August 12, 2020, 10:39 am
They give themselves names like “Dads Against Predators”, “Predator Snatchers”, “Predator Patrol” or “POPSquad”. They are groups of vigilantes who admittedly intentionally stage bait operations to lure individuals to locations thinking they are meeting a minor for sex, so they can film them. The videos are then posted to social media sites, such as YouTube, where the vigilantes cash in on advertising revenue.
Predator Poachers, a group started just last year now has over 160,000 subscribers, Dads Against Predators boasts that it’s videos have more than 800,000 views and POPSquad has put up more than 160 videos. The groups think of themselves as guardian angels for children, but law enforcement is strongly opposed to them. The reasons their tactics are a very bad idea are obvious.
First, the public only sees the “take down” but knows nothing about the tactics that were used to bait their targets. Were they in an adult site where there would be no expectation they would be chatting with a minor? Did they pull a bait and switch, pretending to be an adult and then introduce a pretend minor who the target had no interest in meeting? Did they induce, encourage or entrap the person into conduct they had no interest in? Or, did they manufacture the entire “crime” to begin with just to produce a video? Second, there is no concern for the safety of the target or themselves for that matter. What if the confrontation turns physical? What if unrelated bystanders get hurt in an altercation? What happens if someone pulls a gun? Also, these stings are almost always useless to law enforcement or prosecutors because they don’t follow required protocols.
This article discusses one group’s tactics and you can see clearly where the bait and switch is:
Around mid-December, about two weeks before Christmas, Bee and Austin began the usual process, starting with a Grindr account with Bee’s picture (“I’m 19, but I look 15,” he says). In minutes, a 49-year-old man named “Adam” hit up Bee looking to meet Bee and “his brother.” “You gonna suck my dick tonight,” “Adam” messaged. “I’ll do whatever you wanna do hahaha,” responded Bee. “What about a threesome,” “Adam” said. “I’m sure he’ll be down,” Bee said.
They would meet in the bicycle section of the Walmart, as Bee suggested, where they had hid a camera on a nearby shelf. In the video it captured, a white-haired, bespectacled “Adam”—really an Akron-area teacher—strides up to Bee, hands pocketed. “Are you the guy? Adam?” Bee says, visibly anxious. “Do you wanna head outside?” Adam whispers. “So, what do you wanna do?” Bee, says, rubbing his chin.
Twenty seconds later, Bee’s crew rushes “Adam,” sticking their phones in his face. “What are you doing here, bro?” Bee shouts in a deeper voice. “You know I’m fifteen, right?” Adam scowls, aware he’s been busted. He throws up the hood on his windbreaker to hide his face and walks coolly to the exit. As he does, Bee screams to shoppers in the aisle, “Watch out, everyone! He’s here to meet a 15-year-old boy!”
Wait… did he say the “usual process” is to go on Grindr (a site whose Terms of Service state in capital letters, “NO USE BY UNDERAGE PERSONS. NO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS (OR TWENTY-ONE (21) YEARS IN PLACES WHERE EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS IS NOT THE AGE OF MAJORITY) MAY DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY VIEW, POSSESS OR OTHERWISE USE THE GRINDR SERVICES. YOU MUST BE A LEGAL ADULT.”? Did he also say “I’m 19, but I look 15”? So he baits someone to a Walmart under the guise that he’s meeting an adult, but then accuses him of coming to meet a minor?
The article continues that when the school district saw the YouTube video the put him on administrative leave and removed him from the classroom. So an individual who was on an adult site, thinking he was meeting a consenting adult, gets accosted in a supermarket, shamed online and his career placed in jeopardy, What if he wasn’t out as gay? That’s a personal choice that should not have been taken away from him and forcibly outing someone is a violation of their privacy.
The article also continues to tell of another situation:
A few weeks after Jake’s video was posted on DAP’s Youtube channel, Joshua called me panicking. The day before, he did a catch with a man who was a well-known driving instructor in the Fremont area. The catch was surprisingly quick: He was waiting in his car outside Jay’s old house—waiting for sex with a 14-year-old—when Joshua rushed him with his camera on. The man sped off. “He told me, ‘I’ll be dead in the morning,’” Joshua says. The next day, Joshua received a frantic call from the Fremont Police: The man had hung himself in his living room.
There’s enough wrong with police stings that amateurs shouldn’t be conducting them and posting them to social media for profit or to become “internet famous”. It’s time that law enforcement stepped in to stop them.
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Author: Florida Action Committee
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