According to a press release by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, deputies apprehended a 40-year-old man booked into jail for contacting a minor to commit a felony in addition to attempted oral copulation with a person under 16.
On April 25, 2023, dispatch received a YouTube influencer group call to notify the department they would be confronting a man who worked around Palm Desert in Riverside County regarding sexually motivated communications he allegedly had with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old-boy. The group delivered the communications between their group, posing as the 14-year-old boy, as they had created a social media account that allowed Brandon Burgeois, the alleged predator, to contact the decoy. Deputies took over the investigation as soon as the communication was delivered to the sheriff's station.
The group calls themselves Creep Catchers Unit (CC Unit), a self-proclaimed "Child Advocacy Predator Catching" group. One of the unit members called "Ghost" was the person who reached out to authorities and handed over printed sheets of text messages and communications between the alleged perpetrator and the fake teen, including a video of the encounter. During an interview with NBC Palm Springs news, Ghost stated in this case that “this guy messaged our boy account and was told right off the bat that we were 14 years old. The man talked sexually to the decoy and invited the kid to his job.” Bourgeois was arrested by deputies at a Walmart hours after his encounter with the CC Unit.
Creep Chasers have decoys who pose as boys and girls; this Unit claims they are responsible for over 300 catches of alleged predators throughout Southern California; they have a very large following on social media as they go undercover online to lure in child predators. Despite the Unit's claimed success, law enforcement says they do not support cyber vigilantes attempting to take justice into their own hands. Yet, CC continues its mission by creating a decoy account for a fake child, usually under 14 years old, the conversation almost always ending with the alleged predator sending and asking for illicit photos of the child. Ghost stated, "I always wondered how many creeps were in my area. When you catch one, another appears in your inbox." CC Unit is on all social media apps, including chat rooms, forums, and websites, chatting with men who usually pretend to be teens; however, when the alleged predator agrees to meet up with the child, the cameras start rolling.
These interactions are live streamed for the CC Unit's collective 263 plus thousand followers to witness the alleged predator and their intentions. When realizing they are being recorded, they are "shook up for sure," according to Ghost. He adds that sometimes they run, but the group follows them so police can identify them.
Ghost says, "They always approach us. We never make first contact." He states the CC Unit is aware of the laws and avoids entrapment, hoping law enforcement can use their evidence to prosecute, always handing over evidence to the police, including usernames and recordings. For more information on CC Unit, visit the Creep Catchers facebook page.
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