that briefly captured America's heart in the mid-aughts?
We thought we'd check in with the creepy internet vigilantes behind it, and guess what?
For a while, it was the best thing NBC had going, shot himself in the head while NBC News cameras waited outside his home, and people started to wonder whether reveling in the sickness and criminality of damaged people whose crimes were hypothetical and who wouldn't have even been there if NBC hadn't lured them there was really such a good idea. Perverted Justice, a loosely organized online vigilante outfit founded by a Portland man named Phillip John Eide in 2003.
Eide—who changed his name to Xavier von Erck in 2006—and his volunteers initially just documented the predators they caught and exposed them online, but soon they started working with law enforcement and local TV stations.
When NBC News took them national, the network paid Perverted Justice more than $100,000 per sting.
"Von Erck" was an odd partner for a national news organization—he looked like Kevin Smith, called the civilian victims of al Qaeda "shameless and pathetic" on his blog, and once pretended to be a woman to seduce an online enemy in an attempt to ruin him.
All told, NBC News paid him somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 million between 20. Back in 2006, "Von Erck" had big plans for his franchise.
He founded a nonprofit called Perverted Justice Foundation Inc.to receive NBC's funds, and hoped to apply them to the tax-exempt goal of "promot[ing] internet safety" and helping cops "apprehend internet based sexual predators."In 2006, according to PJFI's application for tax-exempt status, he predicted that NBC would pay the foundation million in consulting fees by 2008, and that it would soon be raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from major corporate donors like Wal-Mart and Microsoft.It planned to develop special software to help parents monitor their kids' internet usage.It hoped to send its members on speaking tours to spread the word about predators and to publish guides and brochures for parents and kids.PJFI set up a web site and started paying "Von Erck," treasurer Dennis Kerr, and secretary Allison Shea 0,000 annual salaries.Shea and Kerr were active volunteers for Perverted Justice prior to the NBC deal; Shea, who also goes by the name Del Harvey, is now Twitter's "The NBC money dried up sooner than expected, and corporate donors never emerged.