Law enforcement wants you to know if your child visits online chat rooms, there's a strong possibility a predator will approach them. Investigators say they know exactly what goes on in these chat rooms, and the one thing predators are looking for.
David Pollet is an investigator with the Effingham County Sheriff's Office. He is also a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. According to the organization's website, the group was created to help Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems, or computer technology to sexually exploit children
"No one's there to see them, no one's looking over the shoulder, so they are free to be themselves no matter how evil or disgusting that person may be," Pollet said, when describing online predators.
In one of his investigations, he used the alias of a disabled 14-year-old girl who was put in a wheelchair after a drunk driving accident. He chose this alias because he says the predators look for the most vulnerable children.
Pollet uses software that records dozens of conversations at once, and showed WTOC what can happen in just two hours of chatting. The bombardment began within seconds. One of the most persistent suspects never reveals his name, but knows for certain the age of the girl he's talking to.
"He knows this is a 14 or 15-year-old female he's speaking to," Pollet said.
This man was just one of hundreds Pollet and other ICAC investigators try to catch. Pollet says these predators will drive to Effingham County from as far away as Chicago hoping to meet their victims, but luckily, that doesn't always happen.
"They pull in, we walk up, talk to them, and take them to jail."