Justin Payne, the self-proclaimed “vigilante pedophile hunter” who recently created a video featuring a Comox Valley man, said his goal is to educate parents about the dangers that lurk online for children, and to spread awareness of online predators.
In an exclusive interview with The Record, Payne, 29, added his end goal would be to cease posting videos online and to work as an informant for police and allow law enforcement to “take care of it.”
Earlier this week, Payne posted a nearly hour-long video to his YouTube channel about the encounter with the local man, which includes video of his text messages posing as an underage female to entice the man to meet with him at a public location on Lerwick Road.
(The Record’s original story can be found at http://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/news/403069576.html )
Payne has been compared to the group Creep Catchers – a group that takes proactive measures to prevent adults from meeting underage children on social media – but Payne does his work relatively solo, with just a bodyguard and/or videographer in tow.
He travels across Canada posing as underage children on social media, with the goal of meeting his suitors face-to-face, filming the confrontation and subsequently posting the video on social media.
Videos on his YouTube channel have more than 3.8 million views.
Payne said he creates about three or four videos a week, and doesn’t always call police, so charges are not always able to be laid.
“I’ve kind of given up on law enforcement because typically they take my devices and then don’t return them for months and sometimes almost a year.”
While he doesn’t work with police, Payne noted he has had success with his work, as one individual with whom he was talking (acting as an 11-year-old boy in Toronto) is now in prison with more than 30 counts of child pornography.
In three days, the video featuring the Comox Valley man – which was filmed in early November – has had more than 17,000 views.
“It was me chatting with you the whole time,” said Payne as he confronts the man in the aisle of a Courtenay retail store.
“You guys aren’t going to hurt me or anything?” asks the man.
“No – nobody’s not going to hurt you – I can guarantee that. That’s why I picked a public place, so that everybody’s safe,” replied Payne.
“It is going on the web,” added Payne’s partner. “It’s going to go all over Facebook, it’s going to go all over online. Your name, your face, everything.”
The video ends by Payne showing text messages from the man asking for help and apologizing.
“I was setting everything up for this individual to be able to talk to a healthcare professional specifically (designated) in the field that he needs help; he just disappeared and told me he was going to get help himself,” explained Payne, who added the video also helps as an education tool for the community to get an inside view of the interworking mind of child predators.
Const. Rob Gardner of the Comox Valley RCMP said the police are aware of the video, but no formal charges have been laid.
“We are always concerned when people decide to bypass law enforcement and take matters into their own hands,” said Gardner. “When that happens, there is a risk that investigations can be jeopardized and key evidence can be lost.”
Payne said if laws are getting broken or evidence is tampered, he would not have lasted four years doing the work he does.
“Innocent until proven guilty is always the case – I understand this. But I’ve had it with these individuals first, and I’m not just on the other side looking, I’m the one that’s involved (as) a decoy victim, so to speak. I believe what we are all doing we shouldn’t be doing in terms of being vigilantes but not enough is being done by our government or police or politicians, so as I always say, I am a vigilante created by the public for the public, so I need no approval from anybody.”