Federally funded police task forces carry out thousands of online stings each year, despite little evidence that they prevent abuse

Source: theappeal.org 12/19/22

On July 8, 2018, Norman Achin, then a 50 year-old public school teacher living in Northern Virginia, signed up for the adults-only dating app Grindr. Two days later, he was contacted by someone calling himself AlexVA. Soon after they started talking, AlexVA told Achin that he was 14 years old. “I was looking for adult fun. Did not expect to run into your age,” Achin responded through the app on July 12. “Not interested in that kind of relationship with a boy.” The next day, he reported AlexVA to Grindr for violating its terms of use, and Grindr suspended AlexVA’s account.

In reality, AlexVA was a police officer in the Fairfax County Police Department who had been communicating with a number of men on Grindr as part of an undercover investigation.

On July 22, Achin sent a nude photo to the suspended AlexVA account—he says he doesn’t know how it happened and that he’d been communicating with other Grindr users, all adults. Achin had made similar mistakes before. On July 12, he’d sent texts intended for another adult user to AlexVA. AlexVA responded but didn’t tell Achin that he had the wrong person until they’d been exchanging messages for several hours. Achin apologized.

“You want something with an adult” he texted to AlexVA. “That’s a bad idea. Don’t you see?”

Despite Achin’s apparent efforts to dissuade AlexVA from seeking sex with adults, he was arrested on July 23, and in May 2019 a Fairfax County judge found him guilty of using a communications device to solicit a minor.

State records show Achin had no prior criminal history, nor did the prosecutor introduce evidence at trial that he’d ever sexually abused children or possessed child pornography. Still, Achin was sentenced to seven months in prison and was put on the state’s sex offender registry. He lost his job teaching at a public school and his pension. He now has a retail job and does gig work to make ends meet and pay off thousands of dollars of legal debt, he says.

Achin’s arrest was part of a bigger trend in policing. From 2018 to 2020, law enforcement agencies across the country launched almost 2,500 such “proactive” sting investigations. These investigations are carried out by special task forces funded by the federal government as part of a national strategy to prosecute online sex crimes against children. (2020 is the last year for which data is available for most task forces.)

However, the law enforcement agencies that run these task forces receive funding based in part on how many arrests and convictions they get. This may create an incentive to pursue fictitious-victim sting operations, which are often cheaper and less time-intensive than investigations of crimes with real victims. But experts on child trafficking say it’s unclear how many crimes against children these stings actually prevent, and the federal government hasn’t looked into whether the money spent on these task forces is actually keeping kids from being victimized.

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LE reasoning why they do what they do WRT the stings: “We’re not enticing people to do something they don’t already have on their mind. We’re just taking advantage of their weakness,” he said.

Recidivism is what again?: Virginia criminal records show that none of the men had previously been arrested for a sexual offense, and that none of the arrests resulted in charges for additional sexual crimes.

A rich article in info we have discussed here before that I believe many in this forum will shake their head at because we know.

“However, the law enforcement agencies that run these task forces receive funding based in part on how many arrests and convictions they get.”

And there it is folks. Cops want an easy win for the glory and praise. Sure beats dodging bullets busting Fentanyl street-level dealers, huh?

Last edited 1 month ago by Facts should matter

What boils my blood is that the media portrays it all (of course) as the cops are this beacon of shining light when it comes to saving children when they aren’t trying to save children at all, they are trying to pad their pockets and their expansive pensions which the taxpayer forks over.
I think if the public REALLY know the nuances of these stings (which I used to think it was just some police shirking the “rules” of ICAC but I’m starting to believe it’s literally all of them) which LE, investigators and judges all work together to cover up with the facade of “Saving Children” they would be way less likely to want to pay for this.
Like in my husband’s military case how the cop entrapped him while he was deployed (despite rules to try and “entice men locally within TX”), he was on Ambien (which the judge swept under the table), the prosecution LOST a bulk of the text messages and the judge allowed even this and that was once again that was swept under the rug. When you read his case online from the military’s perspective the case is completely different (or I should say none of these things are mentioned and any evidence to support the defense is “lost” but that isn’t mentioned) because they control the narrative. Like LE and the media.
It reminds me of when I heard the dude that ran Victorias Secret was huge into lobbying for prisons and more people thrown into prison because he benefitted from prison labor. All of these people have an active goal of throwing people in prison and trying to do it again on FTR- they gain $$ from it and the public is told that it’s protecting children so they believe it.

$30 million…$35 million…$75 million….
And how much is going to any actual Prevention Programs to halt child sex abuse & molestation BEFORE it happens???
Oh, of course: $ -0- 😒😒😒
Zero.
Zero.
Zero. 😒

Imagine that! A thing completely brought to us by the advent of the DDI. Before the DDI there was not a need for ” online stings.” Because it is a reality, we know for sure the DDI acts to assist law enforcement perception and completely enables many types of crimes. We also know existing pre-internet crime is exacerbated through its use when attacks are recorded and put on the net or via live stream broadcast.
Then we have the FBI & CIA & DHS playing games with social media to secure elections and other unfettered application of same. No need to concern ourselves with the motives of Byrne Grant influencers in OMNIBUS1994. HOW is it any different from the current OMNIBUS2022 on the table now. An enormous bill few Americans know the content of, but hers a slice of the pie.https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2471
House resolution (H.R.2471)

“law enforcement agencies that run these task forces receive funding based in part on how many arrests and convictions they get.”

Ask any traffic cop if they receive some type of reward based upon the number of traffic tickets they issue during a specific time period (a week, month, etc.), and they will indignantly reply “Why of course not. That would be unethical. We would NEVER do something like that”.

If Achin knew that underage boys were using Grindr to solicit sex from adults, then why would he turn around and send a nude picture? Even if it was meant for an adult.

About 10 or 15 years ago, I remember reading about Polk County, FL sheriff Grady Judd and all the underhanded means he employs to get as many arrests as possible. Thankfully, area judges caught on to what he was up to and began dismissing his online sting cases left and right. With him, if you said ANYTHING AT ALL after being told the person on the other end was under 18, he’d arrest you, even if it was something like “uh, sorry, I can’t do that”. Other problems here include the possibility of abuse, such as police falsifying chat logs in order to make it look like the mark said something he never said. Therefore, here’s my advice to anyone, especially if you’re young and you’re a guy, looking for love online:

1) ALWAYS keep it platonic until you meet the person on the other end in real life (assuming they’re legitimate and not an undercover cop). DO NOT say anything that’s even REMOTELY sexual before you meet her. And definitely no inappropriate photos, either, until meeting the person.

2) If the person on the other end says ANYTHING about being under the age of 18, END ALL COMMUNICATION IMMEDIATELY and BLOCK THEM. Don’t even say another word, just in case it is Grady Judd and his minions.

3) Make screencast recordings of all chat sessions. There is, BTW, a good FREE app that does this called Vokoscreen, which is available for Windows and also for Linux. This way, should the person on the other end be a cop and they falsify the chat logs, get a lawyer and show the video to him or her and have your lawyer AGGRESSIVELY go after the prosecution to get your video recording admitted as evidence in court, to show everyone in the courtroom the undercover cop’s dishonest activity.

Hopefully these tips will keep us guys with honest intentions off the registry, where they don’t belong.