814PredHunters committed to exposing online child predators | News | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

Editor’s note: The sources in this article have asked to be identified by only their first names, due to the nature of work the 814PredHunters group does.

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Since its initiation in 2022, the 814PredHunters group has exposed nearly 140 online predators.

Primarily based in Clearfield County, the group is dedicated to keeping families and communities safe by aiming to catch sexual predators who target children and teens through online platforms.

Group founder Brian’s world was turned upside down when his good friend of 20-plus years was convicted of raping a minor in 2022, the main catalyst for starting this group.

It started out with just a few decoys – individuals who pose as a minor online to reel in offenders – and now has around 17-18. The group has also acquired several new members, including a retired state police officer.

Regularly, there are multiple decoys from all walks of life posing as minors on several different social media platforms/apps/websites. The decoy uses a childlike profile photo that may attract predators lurking online.

The group’s first, what they call “exposure,” came in September 2022, just a few days after its initiation, ending the year with 30-plus predator nabs, a number that has since nearly quadrupled.

From there, 814PredHunters continued to grow, with more and more people wanting to help and praising its cause. The group’s Facebook page now has 54,000 followers and 25,000 “likes.”

The group has caught predators in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Many drive to local areas to meet whom they believe is a minor child.

When it comes time for an exposure, or a “catch,” police are given the evidence the group has collected, including a binder full of messages between the decoy and the alleged online predator, as well as the meeting location.

Overall, said Brian, the support for the PredHunters from law enforcement is positive. There were recently five plea convictions in Jefferson County as the result of PredHunters exposures.

“We have a good relationship with local police,” Brian said, noting how helpful the Brookville and Punxsutawney police departments have been. “They treat us with a lot of respect.”

Having a retired police officer on board with the 814PredHunters has been very useful, too, as it gives a different perspective and brings knowledge that they didn’t have before. When asked why he chose to join the group, the man stated that he believes in the cause and wanted to help.

The “catch teams” are providing those within the criminal justice system the tools they need to prosecute these offenders, said Brian.

The goal is to also spread the word to other district attorneys, Brian said, who may believe that it isn’t possible to arrest and convict these predators.

“We have proven that charges can be filed, go through the court system, and there be sentences at the end of them,” Brian said.

They have also been working with Pennsylvania State Rep. Jim Gregory, who has proposed a couple of new bills on the group’s behalf. House Bill 1660 is “an act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in minors, further providing for the offense of unlawful contact with minor,” according to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. This would change the bill from talking about an actual child to a “presumed child,” explained Brian.

House Bill 1744, “an act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in wiretapping and electronic surveillance, further providing for exceptions to prohibition of interception and disclosure of communications,” would allow catch teams to record phone calls without the offender’s knowledge, Brian said.

One thing the group is widely known for is posting Facebook Live videos of their exposures. Before they even arrive home from their trip, said Brian, the video will have over 10,000 views, with people watching from just about everywhere – including all over the country and even different parts of the world.

The group never gives out its location during these incidents to protect everyone involved, and has stepped up security measures to ensure everyone’s safety.

Pictured is the logo for 814PredHunters.

Approaching these offenders is something that Brian has worked on over time, noting that he realized they open up to him more when he is calmer, which is not an easy thing to do.

Sadly, the PredHunters receive messages every day from parents/families of a child that claim something like this is happening to them. Thankfully, it seems they are making progress, as some of these previous offenders will not attempt to talk to a decoy again.

“Make it difficult to target these kids online, that’s what we are trying to do,” said Brian.

And, the group often receives feedback from parents, who state that because of them, they are more diligent about checking their child’s phone.

The exposure seems to have also created somewhat of a “safe space” for other victims.

“More victims are coming forward and saying what happened to them,” Brian noted.

The PredHunters have “meets” with potential new decoys, going over everything they have learned. New decoys have constant support from the ones who have been doing this for a long time.

It’s important, he said, for one to be able to separate themselves mentally and emotionally from what the decoy is doing. This is something he practices himself, too, having to confront these predators face to face.

“We tell decoys that this isn’t easy,” Brian said. “We do this for the kids. They go through all the mental mind games these kids go through.”

The decoys are also told to not be surprised if they end up talking to someone they know, which has happened several times already. It’s often people you’d never suspect, said Brian, and they’ve had more than one prominent community member caught conversing with a decoy, including a defense attorney from Pittsburgh, and even a man who worked on a former president’s secret service team for several years.

An 814PredHunters decoy noted that these online predators are getting more and more creative. Other than utilizing social media platforms, dating sites, and avenues like Snapchat, they are now even using apps like Roblox, an online gaming platform, Telegram, Discord, Fortnite and more, which appear to be safe for youth.

“Keep an eye on your kids’ phones,” she said. “You really don’t know who they’re talking to.”

Over the past year, the PredHunters have continued to receive support from those in the community wanting to help the cause. For example, Elk Run Volunteer Fire Company of Punxsutawney recently raffled off a Trans-Am vehicle to benefit the group.

Brian said they have also received a lot of personal donations, such as monetary funds, paper, tabs, ink and binders, etc. When they set up an 814PredHunters wish list on Amazon, the feedback was incredible.

Funds donated to the group or by purchasing merchandise help with various things, such as traveling costs.

Also noteworthy, the 814PredHunters website is now up and running,, where supporters can purchase 814PredHunters “Stay Thirsty” merchandise like apparel and drinking mugs.

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