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Man using Snapchat filter to pose as teenage girl helps investigators arrest a cop

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Robert Davies, a police officer for the San Mateo Police Department, was arrested last week by San Jose police officers.
(San Jose Police Department)

The Bay Area cop thought he was having sexually explicit conversations with an underage girl on Tinder, police said. Instead, he had been fooled by a man who used several social media apps to pose as a 16-year-old female.

Robert Davies, an officer with the San Mateo Police Department, was arrested Thursday with the help of the person pretending to be a teenager, the San Jose Police Department said.

Detectives launched their investigation May 13 and learned that the tipster had created a fake Tinder account of a 19-year-old woman “but filtered the profile photo to appear as a young[er] girl.” The man behind the account, a 20-year-old college student, told KNTV-TV that he used the gender-switching Snapchat filter to create a photo for the fake account.

The man, who identified himself to the news outlet only as Ethan for fear of retaliation, began talking to Davies on May 11. They soon switched to the messaging app Kik, where Ethan told Davies that “she” was not 19, but actually 16, police said. Tinder does not allow underage users.

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They then switched to Snapchat, where they talked about engaging in sexual activity, police said.

“He messaged me, ‘Are you down to have some fun tonight?’” Ethan told KNTV. “We started texting on there and it got a lot more explicit.”

Throughout their conversations, it was clear Davies believed he was speaking to an underage girl, according to police. Ethan said he tried to get pieces of information about the police officer so it would be easier for investigators to track him down. He also screen-captured images of his conversations.

“I was just looking to get someone,” he said. “He just happened to be a cop.”

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Detectives served search warrants on Davies’ home, electronic devices and mobile apps, police said. On Thursday he was arrested in Morgan Hill, where he lives.

The San Mateo Police Department said in a statement that Davies had been placed on paid administrative leave.

“While the criminal investigation is still running its course, this charge, if true, is disturbing and the conduct alleged violates the very values and principles of this department,” the statement read.

alejandra.reyesvelarde@latimes.com

Twitter: @r_valejandra


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