A new breed of vigilante has set its sights on exposing predators trying to lure children online — using nothing but their smartphones to do so.
These self-proclaimed pedophile hunters set up fake social media profiles, masquerading as vulnerable teens, to turn the tables on the so-called “creeps.”
The online chats turn into real-world confrontations, and the smartphones used to arrange these meetings become cameras to record them.
Hundreds of Canadians from across the country have been put in the spotlight when these groups post videos to sites such as Facebook and YouTube. A handful of them have faced criminal charges. Together, the videos have millions of views.
But a W5 investigation of the largest vigilante network of its type in Canada, the Creep Catchers, has found their cameras often don’t tell the whole story.
Cases with truly horrifying chats have been lumped in with chats that show no evidence of any sexual intent, the nationwide network’s enormous online audience never knowing the difference.
Critics say the group doesn’t understand the law, and may be motivated less by a pursuit of justice as a pursuit of fame and social media reach, which can lead to money.