A California college student desperate to take down child predators posed as an underaged girl using Snapchat’s gender filter and allegedly caught a cop looking to hook up with a minor.
The student, a 20-year-old named Ethan from the San Francisco Bay Area, used the feature — which transforms male faces into female faces — to disguise himself as a 16-year-old girl named Esther, he told NBC Bay Area.
Ethan then created a Tinder account and quickly received a message from a man named Rob. After doing research, Ethan determined the man was San Mateo Officer Robert Davies.
“I believe he messaged me, ‘Are you down to have some fun tonight?’ and I decided to take advantage of it,” Ethan told NBC.
Ethan explained he continued to speak with Davies on a messaging app called Kik, still posing as Esther, and told him “she” was only 16.
Ethan claimed Davies did not seemed to be bothered by Esther’s age and that’s when things “got a lot more explicit,” he told NBC.
On May 11, Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers received a tip from Ethan, who explained he had been posing as a 16-year-old.
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Two days later, detectives with the San Jose Police Department launched a criminal investigation.
Police discovered that Ethan had began chatting with Davies on Tinder on Saturday, May 11, and the two switched to Kik where Davies allegedly acknowledged that Esther was 16 — like Ethan said, the San Jose Police Department revealed in a statement.
Detectives were able to obtain screengrabs of their conversation, which show Davies allegedly trying to engage in “sexual activity,” according to police.
Detectives then issued a search warrant.
Davies was arrested on June 6 after detectives obtained a felony arrest warrant. He was charged with contacting a minor to commit a felony, according to the statement.
He is being held on a $50,000 bond.
Last week, the San Mateo Police Department released a statement in response to Davies’ arrest, explaining he was off-duty and in another country when the alleged crimes took place.
“As soon as we became aware of the investigation by San Jose, the officer was placed on paid administrative leave and remains on administrative leave,” the statement reads.
The department adds, “While the criminal investigation is still running its course, this charge, if true, is disturbing and the conduct alleged violates the very values and principles of this department.”
“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,” the continue. “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.” Davies did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
As for Ethan, he told NBC Bay Area that his reason for going under cover was because he had a female friend who had been molested as a child.
“I was just looking to get someone,” Ethan told the outlet. “He just happened to be a cop.”
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