NBC Bay Area reported that that the 20-year-old college student, who goes by the name Ethan (last name withheld), was compelled to create a fake online persona to nab possible pedophiles after hearing about how a female friend was molested as a child.
He pretended to be a woman named "Esther" and started receiving messages from a man on dating app Tinder.
"I believe he messaged me, 'Are you down to have some fun tonight?' and I decided to take advantage of it," Ethan said to NBC Bay Area.
Ethan said he told the man that he was 16 years old and asked if the age would bother him. Screenshots of conversations between Ethan and the man showed that it did not matter to the suspect, according to police.
"We started texting on there, and it got a lot more explicit," Ethan revealed. He and the man continued messaging each other for 12 hours. Ethan would later provide screenshots of their conversations to Crime Stoppers, a tipline for the public to provide information about crime-related activities.
"I was just looking to get someone. He just happened to be a cop," Ethan said.
Investigators identified the man as Robert Davies, a police officer. Davis was arrested on suspicion of discussing sexual activity with a minor on social media. He has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the San Mateo Police Department where Davis is based.
The popular Snapchat gender-swap filter was first introduced in May and it allowed users to see how they look as a member of the opposite sex. News about Ethan's attempt at nabbing an alleged paedophile using a Snapchat filter has gotten some reaction on social media with users calling him "a hero".
Some heroes wear Snapchat’s filter. https://t.co/g4V5prlKOi— H. (@Kuntum__) June 12, 2019
all the guys using the masc/fem snapchat filter to trap paedos are Big Damn Heroes— julius caesar at a rave (@SecretBeetle) June 11, 2019
This is definitely the Asian representation that we had no idea we needed.— Tiffany Diane Tso (@tiffanydian) June 11, 2019
Ethan used Snapchat's gender-switch filter, set up a Tinder profile, said he was 16 years old and catfished a cop. https://t.co/i5ansjXOxk