A 20-year-old college student used the Snapchat gender-swap filter to catfish a cop on Tinder, in a creative act of vigilante justice.
NBC Bay Area reported on Tuesday that the student told police that he set out to find potential pedophiles after his friend told him she was sexually assaulted during her childhood.
Ethan (last name withheld by NBC, out of concern for his safety) used the Snapchat gender-swap filter to make a photo of himself appearing as a girl. Then he used the photo in a fake Tinder profile for “Esther.” Esther’s listed age on the dating app was 19, according to the San Jose Police Department.
Then a man messaged Esther. Ethan told NBC he thinks the message was “Are you down to have some fun tonight?”
“I decided to take advantage of it,” Ethan told the news station.
They moved the conversation to Kik—where “Esther” told the person that she was actually 16-years-old—then moved the conversation to Snapchat, according to San Jose police. On Snapchat the two allegedly spoke about having sexual relations.
He used Snapchat’s “gender switch” filter to pose as a 16-year-old girl online, and take down a police officer allegedly looking to hook up. He tipped off the PD, and the officer was arrested.
Our exclusive interview with the man, and why he did it, at 11 on @nbcbayarea pic.twitter.com/VaGtg14uLL
— Ian Cull (@NBCian) June 11, 2019
According to NBC, that person messaging Esther was San Mateo police officer Robert Davies who is 40-years-old.
San Jose police, who later reviewed screenshots of the conversation, reportedly told NBC that Davies was not concerned that he was speaking explicitly to someone he believed to be 16.
San Jose detectives began investigating Davies last month, soon after Ethan tipped off Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers, according to San Jose police. Police arrest Davies on June 6. He faces charges of contacting a minor to commit a felony.
In a statement released last week the San Mateo Police Department said it put Davies on paid administrative leave as soon as it found out about the investigation. “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,” San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said in the statement.
Gizmodo asked San Mateo Police for comment on the news that Davies’ was arrested after he interacted with a fake Tinder account and the department sent the same statement issued last week.
This is not the first report of someone using the Snapchat filter to catfish others, but it perhaps it will usher in a new trend of people using filters to catfish for good instead of evil.