Predator Exposure founder continues work due to ‘depraved’ people online
Paedophile entrapment enterprise has followers in Australia and South Africa
Paedophile vigilante group, Predator Exposure, sets up fake identities of teenage girls on Facebook
The head of paedophile vigilante group Predator Exposure has said he is motivated by the number of “depraved” people he comes across in his line of work.
The father of five, who gave his name as Phil, began his unusual operation, based in the UK, when he was asked by a friend to catch a man who had been talking to their daughter on Facebook.
At the time, more than 15 months ago, Phil did not need to use entrapment because the man involved had already “dug his own grave” with a number of “sick and abusive messages” to his friend’s teenage daughter.
“All I had to do was find the guy,” says Phil.
When he did, Phil turned the man over to the police and a court appearance and successful conviction ensued.
“This was the start of an eye opener to what is happening out there on Facebook and social media,” says Phil.
Phil set up a fake profile of a teenage girl on Facebook, complete with a profile picture and albums of photographs. The fakes he uses are of girls over 16 but look young for their age.
“Once you have done that, the friend requests start flooding in,” he said.
“It happens really quickly, it is quite sickening to see how fast older blokes come on to request these young girls as friends.”
His Predator Exposure campaign has spread worldwide, attracting followers in Australia and South Africa.
The group’s page on Facebook, which was set up 15 months ago, now has more than 128,000 followers.
Phil now has 15 volunteer decoys working with him.
“It’s really hard work,” says Phil. “I work full-time and then come home on a night and do this. You have to put in a lot of hours.”
Once a paedophile has been in touch, the decoy will then engage with them.
“When they say hi, we say hi back,” says Phil. “Pretty early on they will ask how old we are and we will tell them we are 13, 14 or 15.
“We always make sure we are upfront about our decoy’s age. We have to make it clear what age we are so that it stands up in court,” he says.
A lot of their engagements end in a meet-up where suspect paedophiles can expect their contact to be live-streamed on the Predator Exposure’s Facebook page. Each stream can expect around 200,000 shares.
“When we meet up with these guys they will often cry and complain and say they didn’t mean it, but I’m not having any of that.
“If you don’t want to be exposed for what you are then don’t engage with children on Facebook.”
The “predators” are then handed over to police. But sentences for this kind of crime, where there is no actual victim, can be very low.
“That’s why we stream them,” says Phil. “They have their life sentence right there. Everyone can see what they are.”
The behaviour does not get them into difficulty with police.
“They were a bit wary of us at first but now they know what we do,” he says.
He said he does not let his children use Facebook.
“Facebook is not a place for kids, it’s dangerous. You don’t know who you’re speaking to,” he says.
As for their future, Phil says they are looking into having several volunteer decoy set-ups across the north. They are also thinking about going into schools to talk to children about online dangers.
The Leeds group already have their own T-shirts emblazoned with their silver logo.
“What we see on a daily basis is what keeps us going,” says Phil.