At Gloucester Crown Court Nicholas Wragg, representing, Benjamin Willis, 41, of St James’ Square, Cheltenham, said there had been eight recent suicides by men caught by such groups.
Willis was before the court after he admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child aged 13 between September 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018.
In fact ‘Amy’, whom he was talking to online, was not a girl but an adult male paedophile hunter, the court heard.
Prosecutor Neil Treharne told Judge Michaal Cullum that Willis was using a dating app which has set a minimum age of 17.
“A conversation began between the defendant and ‘Amy’,” Mr Treharne said. “By the third message she said ‘I am 13’.
Imposing a three-year community order with 40 rehabilitation activity sessions, Judge Cullum said: “Now aged 41, you have not been in trouble before.
“For a period of some months you had written communication with someone you thought was a 13-year-old girl in a sexual way, sending pictures of yourself
“There was no girl, it was a group trying to catch out men communicating with children.
“I am satisfied it started out seeking normal adult relationship
“When you were tricked into communicating with a 13-year-old, you should have stopped immediately
“But you did not. You made comments that you were interested in her sexually.
“That is serious. It is an offence, and one with a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
“You are diagnosed as having autism and schizophrenia. You receive medication for that.