The cop thought he was talking to an underage girl but it was a grown-up man using Snapchat’s gender filter.
A 20-year old student from California’s San Francisco Bay Area used the much-criticized gender-swapping filter of Snapchat to catch a 40-year old police officer.
According to Ethan, who studies in a California college, the cop namely Robert Edward Davies was looking for an underage girl to indulge in sexual activity. Ethan posed as a 16-year old girl and used the Snapchat filter to prove it to the cop that he was indeed an underage female. He used the fake name Esther while chatting with the cop.
Davies, a San Mateo Officer, interacted with Ethan via the student’s fake profile and showed interest in having sexual activity with Esther. Davies was told that Esther was a minor but despite knowing this, he continued to chat with the “girl.”
Davies was arrested on Thursday by the San Jose Police Department on the charges of chatting with a minor with the intention of committing a felony. A statement from the Police Department is available on their official Facebook page.
Ethan claims that his urge to help cops catch sexual predators and pedophiles was a result of a recent discussion with one of his female friends who informed him how she was sexually assaulted during her childhood. He started trapping potential pedophiles after creating a fake profile as a girl on popular dating app Tinder.
While giving an interview to the NBC Bay Area, Ethan stated that he didn’t want to reveal his last name and that he intentionally posed as a minor female only to catch sexual predators online. He did so by taking a selfie using the latest offering from Snapchat, the gender-swapping filter.
He then created an account on Tinder where he mentioned his age as 19 because Tinder doesn’t allow users below 18 years of age to create a profile on the dating platform. He was contacted by a user on Tinder named Rob.
“I believe he messaged me, ‘Are you down to have some fun tonight?’ and I decided to take advantage of it,” revealed Ethan.
This conversation occurred on May 11, 2019. Ethan texted Rob as Esther informing him that she was only 16-year old and not 19 as her profile information mentioned.
According to the police, the incident was reported by a “concerned citizen” whose photo on Tinder appeared to be of a much younger girl. The two chatted about having sexual activity, and this conversation was sent to the police by Ethan as screenshots via the crime tip hotline Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers.
The police investigated the incident and later arrested Davies and booked him into Santa Clara County jail, but he is now on paid leave after being charged. Susan Manheimer, San Mateo Police Chief, released the following statement after arresting Davies:
“This alleged conduct, if true, is in no way a reflection of all that we stand for as a Department, and is an affront to the tenets of our department and our profession as a whole. As San Mateo police officers, we have sworn an oath to serve and protect our communities. I can assure you that we remain steadfast to this commitment to serving our community with ‘Professionalism, Integrity, and Excellence.”
This is not the first time when someone has used technology to catch an online predator. In fact, in 2014, An Australian citizen Scott Robert Hansen, 37, was sentenced to one year in prison for keeping obscene conversations with children on the internet. Hansen was caught by Sweetie, a ten-year-old Filipino virtual girl developed to hunt pedophiles.