NANAIMO — Arguably the country's top vigilante pedophile chaser now calls Nanaimo home and he has no plans to log off from his contentious crusade.
Justin Payne, 31, has a whopping 171,000 YouTube subscribers who watch the mover by day turned vigilante video producer at night pose on dating sites as an underage boy or girl.
A viral video of Payne was pivotal in convicting a Nanaimo sex offender in November, while an RCMP investigation into another Nanaimo man is now underway, thanks in part to Payne.
“One day I created a fake profile just to see what would happen and adults one-by-one kept coming to me, the child that I pretended to be, and they still do," Payne said.
He started out posting comedic skit videos, but didn't find it fulfilling. He said a family member falling victim to sexual abuse was another inspiration to spring into action.
Payne said he has posted more than 100 videos to YouTube over roughly four years, with some undercover conversations lasting several months prior to in-person meetings.
“I'm never going to stop, I'm going to keep making fake profiles, I'm going to keep accepting their messages,” Payne told NanaimoNewsNOW. “Im going to keep telling them I'm a child and if they ask to meet then it's my face they're going to see and not a child.”
Payne made national headlines in 2016 when he drove from his then home in Toronto all the way to Vancouver Island to confront a man in Campbell River.
In November, NanaimoNewsNOW reported Raymond Dewell's conviction for sex offences against two underage girls. Videos by Payne, described by Crown Counsel as high quality and extremely helpful, featured Payne using a disguised female voice.
Dewell was jailed for two years after he pleaded guilty and will appear on the National Sex Offender list for life.
Police forces across Canada have long cautioned against amateur vigilante justice of all kinds.
Island District RCMP Cpl. Tammy Douglas previously told NanaimoNewsNOW when the public takes on pedophile hunting many people are put at risk.
“We're always concerned when people decide to bypass law enforcement and take investigations into their own hands. When that does happen there is a risk that investigations can be jeopardized and key evidence lost,” Douglas said.
Payne said he has a great relationship with Nanaimo RCMP, but also admitted the detachment has its concerns.
Payne, who moved to Nanaimo one year ago, stressed from his experience it's paramount for parents and caregivers to keep close tabs on their children's online activity.
“Make sure you have a strong presence in their life because that's one of the major deterrents for pedophiles is a parental figure being around.”
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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