7 On Your Side: Chat Roulette

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Chat Roulette is a popular new website your kids probably already know about that puts users face to face with strangers - even pornography. It's a video chat room.

Users go on in front of their web cams to talk and IM with strangers from all over the world. But, there is a dark and dangerous side that you need to know about.

Just a word of warning: some of the content that follows may be offensive.

Here's how the process works. Press play and you are instantly connected with a stranger. You can see each other live and even talk on an open mike.

We met 18-year-olds from Holland and others from the UK and Spain.

Young adults are often intrigued at the idea of meeting people from around the world or even celebrities.

"Some friends of mine have actually seen Ashton Kutcher and I think Taylor Swift," said Caleb Bell, a college student.

The site says you must be 16 and wear clothes, but there's no registration and no way to verify a users age.

Cyber crimes detective, Ed Jones, warns predators are lurking - especially since they can remain anonymous.

"You've got no earthly idea whether this is some guy pretending to be a celebrity or whether this is a serial killer who likes to kidnap kids," said Jones.

When our female reporter entered the world of Chat Roulette, 90% of the partners were men - most only looking for one thing.

"...exhibitionism or cyber sex if you will," said Jones.

When we informed one of the men it was for a news story, he left. Others didn't seem to care, trying to get the reporter to join in.

"The chat is just a byproduct to get to the end result," said Jones.

Now, when we put a male employee on, it was a completely different experience. The men did not stop at all.

Some college students say they find the site humorous.

"There's a lot of male genitalia on there; it's pretty funny though," said Megan Allen, a college student. "If you go on with a group of friends...you'll see and you'll skip them and sometimes you'll make a sign like, 'Thanks for not being naked.'"

But Detective Jones says a lot of people do not realize the dangers.

"In a recent warrant, we had an individual who was recording every chat session," said Jones. "So if they convinced an underage minor to expose themselves or engage in sexual activity, that video is now out for everybody in the world."

What is worse, he says, is that predators can also track down who they are chatting with. Detective Jones has seen some men drive hours, even go out of the country, to meet an underage girl. To catch a predator on sites like Chat Roulette, he says law enforcement would have to verify where they are. If they're out of the country, their hands are usually tied.

"What's illegal here may not be illegal in Canada or the Philippines," Jones explained.

He says minors have no business on Chat Roulette. Adults, play if you dare, but understand the consequences.

Detective Jones says this behavior is only illegal if it involves a minor - someone under 18.

Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott has also warned parents not to let their teens on this site.

It is hosted in Russia.

We did try to get a response from the young man who created it, but have not heard back.

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