Do vigilante groups truly help against online predators?


We’ve all heard at some point, either on the news or online, that a group of individuals have assisted or have “busted a predator” themselves. Sounds like a great way to put an end to online pedophilia, right? Well, there are negative consequences that many are unaware of.

The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew” fits right into this particular scenario. Law enforcement around the country are always dealing with reports of online pedophilia. If you’ve read articles on certain online groups, you’ve probably seen the many vigilante groups and members who are getting themselves into hot water. So what exactly does “hot water” mean?

CCRA has spoken to members of many vigilante groups, who’ve admitted in some point in their online decoy operations, they’ve had negative encounters with law enforcement and civil attorneys. When asked what this entailed, they explained that attorneys have contacted them, bringing suit against them for false accusations, defamation of character, and many other areas. Law enforcement has also asked them to stop meeting predators who they meet online, in person, regardless of state or country.

When CCRA asked law enforcement about this, they made it perfectly clear that that civilians who are not contracted, affiliated, or partnered with law enforcement agencies, should not be attempting to apprehend online predators. This includes chatting with predators online, collecting their personal information for personal gain, meeting in person and recording those in person encounters.

What’s the big deal? According to our meetings with law enforcement, individuals who are not one of the following above, who do not have the authority or power to attempt to stop predators as individuals or groups, are either at risk of impersonating law enforcement, destroying an on-going investigation, and setting themselves up for civil suit, since the predator the groups are dealing with, have not been convicted in a court of law. Believe it or not, these civil suits can and will be a win for the suspected predator.

With the largely growing number of predators, how in the world is the online community supposed to support and protect their community, both physically and online? Law enforcement stated that online observations and reports to law enforcement are sufficient enough and do not pose a threat to themselves, or law enforcement investigations.

How does CCRA avoid these mentioned issues? CCRA does not perform decoy operations or interact the predator or victim. Our operations are solely visual and will remain that way, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency instructs you to do such tasks, you are then brought under their protection, which should be documented on a form, which both parties can sign.

Although it’s know that the laws have not yet caught up to the internet, all civilians should steer clear of attempting to apprehend, meet with, and communicate with predators as a decoy, as many call themselves.

Handling a child’s terrible mistakes online

If you’re a parent, you’ve most likely already dealt with an issue regarding your child online. So many mistakes can be made without even realizing it. Anything from enticement, personal information distribution, to suggestive material can turn into a real nightmare. So what’s a parent to do in these situations?

Step One: Discuss what happened

Don’t yell, but be firm. Your child probably won’t be comfortable or willing to speak on the matter, but whatever occurred has to be discussed in depth. Any situation involving enticement to images in sexual nature, shall be addressed and brought to the attention of the local authorities immediately. Unfortunately, so many parents fail to do this in a timely manner or at all. If your child has become a victim, make a police report immediately.

Step Two: Confiscate their phone

This one will most likely lead to arguing, fighting and hateful words. Kids are strongly attached to their phones, but as a parent, you must know exactly what your child is involved in and stop possible issues from occurring, especially after an incident. After you’ve made a police report, offer the phone as a form of evidence. You are the parent, do what you feel is right and best for the situation.

Step Three: Cooperate with police

When police become involved, it’s never a positive day. Question after question, searching through phones, accounts and possibly even the house make it seem like your privacy is gone. Let the police do their job and refrain from asking them to leave. Once they’re involved, they can’t just stop their investigation. They will be your best ally in the case.

Step Four: Learn from the experience

Once all problems have ended, police have ended their case and are no longer a hot topic, discussions with the family are the best. Discuss what happened, how to prevent it and hope they’ve learned from the hard lesson.

As a parent, you’re completely responsible for all of the activity your child participates in and observes online. There’s nothing wrong with asking your child what they’re doing and periodically going through their device. Furthermore, ensure the applications on their device are safe in nature and do not pose a security risk to anyone. If you spot questionable content, such as older friends not in their age group, don’t hesitate to block them. After all, we’re talking about your child’s safety here.

The Importance of Filing a Police Report

We all hate dealing with criminal matters, especially when they affect us directly. It’s either harassment, fraud, stalking or some other type of crazy situation where we need help. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but for some, there’s difficulty in deciding if police would be helpful.

We’ve spoken with many police officers and detectives around the country. All of them said that victims of crimes who wait till the last minute or not at all, run the risk of their situation worsening and not being able to properly be resolved. Here’s a few questions from the general public, along with answers we feel would help:

I don’t have evidence against my attacker. I don’t see how the police could help.

It’s the job of the police department to locate that evidence for you. There are some departments that are too small to dedicate much time for those special situations, however, you can always hire a private investigator such as us, to find they evidence you need for a prosecution.

I don’t know who’s responsible for this attack. The police wouldn’t know where to start.

On the contrary; police can easily obtain warrants to programs, websites, accounts and other types of programming, which can allow them access to the information to find the person responsible.

I committed a crime, which caused the crime against me to be committed. I’m scared the police will come after me too.

If you file a report as a victim and are upfront about your wrongdoings, chances are the police won’t bother investigating your acts. Always be honest and don’t hide.

I tried filing a report and the police said there wasn’t anything they could do. What am I supposed to do now?

Try contacting your sheriff’s department or visit your local FBI office. If you can’t make it in person, visit the IC3 complaint center at If none of those work, resort to a private investigator.

Never believe you’re not worth the time of the police department. Always make an effort to contact and request assistance. You could end up regretting not doing so.