When University of Toronto ethics and anthropology professor Paul Salvatori first reached out to self-described pedophile hunter Justin Payne after reading about him on VICE, his intention was to shoot a documentary on him. Instead, he quickly found himself wanting to participate in Payne’s vigilante investigations.
For two years, Payne, 29, has been posing as a little girl or boy on dating websites, acting as bait for adults who are sexually interested in kids. Up until he teamed up with Salvatori last fall, his method had been to meet up with one of his pursuers in a public place, like a parking lot, and film himself confronting the person (usually a man) about their warped sexual proclivities, later posting the video online. Aside from gaining attention from Payne’s thousands of Facebook followers, it yielded few results—to this day Payne isn’t aware of a single one of his investigations that has led to criminal charges.
But in the last few weeks, Salvatori, 35, told VICE the two of them have been in talks with the FBI regarding a California-based sex offender who was convicted on child porn charges. It’s the warmest reception they say they’ve received from law enforcement, noting Canadian authorities, including Toronto police and the RCMP, have either told them to stop their activities or been dismissive of the information they claim to have.