They present themselves as "pedophile hunters".
A collective of citizens alerted the police and allowed the arrest of a 54-year-old man who had made advances on the Internet to a 12-year-old minor, announced Thursday the prosecutor of the Republic of Vesoul, Emmanuel Dupic.
The latter was called last Friday by the Besançon judicial police, who had received a "well-documented file from the
", containing screenshots of discussions on the Internet between a man and a 12-year-old minor.
It was about "exchanges of a sexual nature, the man proposed to the minor an appointment Sunday morning at Besançon station".
At the request of the prosecutor, the suspect was arrested on Saturday morning at his home in Gray (Haute-Saône).
The investigators seized a computer at his home and in police custody, the man "admitted to having exchanged with the child and the facts of corruption of minor".
The collective invented the child
His police custody was also carried out for the detention, dissemination and concealment of pornographic images of minors.
The suspect was released Sunday, without prosecution for the moment, the time to conduct a psychiatric expertise and to operate his computer, to find out if there are other victims.
However, Emmanuel Dupic assured that "proceedings will be taken against this gentleman" when the investigation has advanced.
The collective had invented the story of a 12-year-old child and pretended to be her on social networks.
According to the prosecutor, the elements transmitted by this collective "may constitute the beginning of proof".
"A new phenomenon that raises questions"
“This is the first time that we are confronted with this type of case (with facts of misappropriation of minors revealed by a collective) in Haute-Saône.
There are very few cases in France: there was one case in Dijon, one in Bordeaux in 2019 and one in Reunion, ”he said.
In the Eure, a collective of "interceptors" of pedophiles on the Internet
“It's a new phenomenon that raises questions.
It is an original process for which great vigilance is expected because the organizers of the collective can be prosecuted if they reveal the identity of the defendant on social networks: they incur criminal proceedings.
And there is a risk of revenge on the accused person, ”said Dupic.
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“In France, the right attitude to have is to report such facts on the Pharos platform of the Ministry of the Interior.
Specialized investigators are then empowered to do this type of cyber infiltration, ”he warned.