Humberside Police have warned vigilantes and self-titled paedophile hunters not to take matters into their own hands.
The force has said that it has seen a number of incidents over the past week where individuals have been accused of online sexual offences.
In many cases, police have said the vigilantes have got it wrong.
Head of crime, Detective Superintendent Judi Heaton said that the accusations can “destroy lives, ruin marriages and end careers”.
Some cases have even seen wrongly branded paedophiles commit suicide.
Detective Superintendent Heaton said: “Our first priority is keeping all those who live and work in our area safe and – whether it is their intention or not – these vigilante groups are potentially putting the lives of innocent people at risk.
“In many of the recent cases, there has been no suggestion that the men accused believed they were speaking to a young person.
“Please don’t take matters into your own hands. We have an expert team to tackle internet sexual offenders, who work tirelessly to identify and target sex offenders.
“We know how to gather the accurate evidence we need to charge offenders – and to secure a conviction in court, which is ultimately what we all want.
“By taking matters in your own hands, you also run the risk of committing offences yourself. Don’t do it. If you have information you believe could help us to do this, get in touch and let us do our job.”