GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan man has been posing as a teenage girl online in order to lure potential sexual predators into meeting with him. Then he records his confrontations with them and posts them online.
The man chats with strangers for weeks or in some cases months. Eventually, he gets the potential sexual predators to agree to meetings at various locations around Grand Rapids. To their surprise, they come face to face with the man.
Though the other men don’t know it, they’re being recorded. Those videos are then posted on a YouTube Channel called “Anxiety War.” That channel is going viral.
In each video, the man explains the conversations that took place online, going into graphic detail. He said the men admitted they were looking for an underage girl:
“I will be honest. I am looking for someone like you to please me… I seek sex. I am able to provide some $ compensation for that,” one man allegedly wrote, according to one of the videos.
In another online conversation, one of the alleged predators instructed the person he thinks is a teen girl, “No perfume please! Skirt with no panties would be hot.”
“This guy said that he’s always wanted to have sex with a virgin and that he has many sexual fantasies that have yet to become realities,” the man behind the camera described in another video.
The confrontations between the man behind Anxiety War and the men he met online are tense. The other men are typically stunned when he shows up and starts recounting their online conversations.
“You’re in big trouble,” the man behind the camera says in one video.
“Yeah, it’s about what I figured,” the other man says.
“I have to go home,” another of the alleged predators says in a video.
“Why? I thought you wanted to do this, right?” the man behind the camera says.
“Well, it was a bad idea,” the other man said.
“So why’d you show up?”
“Because I’m a dumb***,” the other man replied.
The man’s work seems to be paying off: Seven men face criminal charges after he gave the Grand Rapids Police Department logs of his online chats and copies of his video confrontations.
Police say Jered Andrus, 37; Dan Barnes, 58; Jacob Cassiday, 24; Brett Chaffin, 24; Phillip Crawford, 32; Aaron Russell, 19; and Zachary Snoeyink, 29, each face a felony charge of accosting a minor for immoral purposes.
GRPD said the man behind the camera contacted them in mid-February and said he had responded to Craigslist advertisements pretending to be a 15-year-old girl. He said each of the men showed up to meet him, expecting sex with the girl.
Police investigated, interviewed the seven suspects and then arrested them. They were formally arraigned in March and earlier this month.
24 Hour News 8 tried to find the man behind the videos, but he wasn’t at home when our crew knocked on his door and he hasn’t returned phone calls.
Though the man’s actions led to arrests and charges, GRPD said it does not advise similar action because it can be dangerous — it’s hard to know what kind of records the other men might have and impossible to tell if they might be armed. Additionally, the man in the video seems to be going alone.
“We have an individual who’s basically doing police work. He’s not trained, he’s not equipped. It’s a dangerous practice,” Sgt. Terry Dixon said.
The videos that led to the recent arrests were all posted within the last few months. But 24 Hour News 8 also found a second YouTube channel called “slystinger” and another video confrontation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that video helped lead to a separate arrest in 2014 and it appears to have been made by the same man behind “Anxiety War.”
“He needs to sit down with an attorney and make sure what he’s doing is legal,” Homeland Security Special Agent Blair Babcock told 24 Hour News 8 of the “Anxiety War” cameraman. “He has to understand that if this is something he wants to do, he can go through training like the rest of us and he can go and become a law enforcement officer and do this the right way.”
The man behind the camera says on his website that he’s just an average person hoping the problem of child sex crimes will be taken more seriously by showing the realities of it and catching potential predators in the act.
Police said any information about criminal activity should be sent to your local law enforcement agency or Silent Observer.