As the internet erupts with praise for three B.C. teenagers who lured alleged predators into public only to humiliate them, one expert warns their actions could have ended up spurring an actual sex assault.

The Chilliwack teens have been called internet heroes for posing as underage girls, setting up rendezvous with adult men and then showing up dressed as superheroes and confronting them.

They filmed the resulting confrontations and posted them on YouTube under the title "To Troll a Predator." Police have since asked that all videos be removed, outraging the teens' roughly 1,800 fans on Facebook.

"Spread the word, these guys are hero's not delinquents (sic)," one user wrote.

"How dare a couple of teenager's think they can make a difference (sic)," posted another.

Though many have applauded their efforts, Cpl. Mat Van Laer of the RCMP's Integrated Child Exploitation Unit describes their hobby as dangerously "fuelling someone's sexual fantasy towards children."

"Now that person is walking out of their home trying to meet with what they believe to be a child," Van Laer said.

"If they go to the wrong meeting zone, or they're in a state of arousal of some sort, they might decide to act on another child, completely unrelated, who otherwise would have suffered no injuries at all."

Chilliwack RCMP say it's unlikely the teens – two 17-year-olds and one 18-year-old – will be charged, but they are under investigation by the Serious Crimes Unit.

Police may also be looking into the men they lured, but Van Laer said it will likely be difficult, and potentially impossible, for police to use the teens' footage to pursue charges.

Earlier this year, a B.C. father was praised by the Abbotsford Police Department for helping to catch a U.S. sex offender who had been contacting his young daughter online.

But the man cooperated carefully with police; after setting up a fake Facebook account and posing as an underage girl in messages with the offender, he turned over all evidence to investigators.

Const. Ian MacDonald said the department has "thanks and respect" for the concerned parent, but hesitated to condone the behaviour.

Members of the public concerned about child predators are encouraged to contact police, and not to pursue a personal investigation or any form of vigilante justice.

Van Laer said parents can also protect their children from predators by simply monitoring their activity on the computer.

"If you're on top of that and you know what your child is doing online then it's not likely that your child will be a victim," he said.