Chat site encouraging children to communicate. “talk to strangers” is a dangerous destination that played a part in an 11-year-old girl being forced to become a predator’s digital sex slave, a multi-million dollar lawsuit claims.
Omegle, which randomly pairs users for video and chats via text, bills itself as an “agent” “great way to meet new friends”However, it has been a haven of pedophiles as well as voyeurs who use it to enjoy their own pleasure, the Oregon federal suit claims.
The site, which has 66 million monthly users from across the globe, says kids 13 and older can use the platform with parental supervision and permission — but doesn’t have any system in place to ensure that users are being supervised, according to the $22 million suit.
The site also doesn’t require users to verify their age or name before using the product and doesn’t have any mechanism in place to prevent kids from being randomly matched with adults and vice versa, the lawsuit says.
An 11-year-old girl was only identified as “A.M.”After using Omegle at sleepover parties with friends, I logged onto Omegle in an effort to meet other middle schoolers.
Instead, she was connected to Ryan Scott Fordyce, a now-convicted Canadian pedophile who was in his late 30s at the time and is now facing 10 years behind bars.
Ryan Scott Fordyce, a pedophile, allegedly threatened to kidnap an 11 year-old girl and her family via chat site Omegle. Getty Images
Fordyce immediately began grooming the child and coerced the child into giving him her contact details so they could keep in touch via the anonymous platform.
He asked her to send nude images of her and said he could make them. “feel better”She had to believe him because it was. “integral to her ‘healing,’”According to the suit, even if she was uncomfortable by his requests.
At first, Fordyce wanted to see images of the child’s “smile”However, he soon began asking for photographs of her body and then began demanding specific details. “poses, props, positions and hairstyles,”The suit states.
The pedophile had deadlines for his twisted actions “assignments”A.M. threatened to kidnap A.M. and harm her family and demanded that she be “at his beck and call” “at all hours of the day and night.”
Authorities claim Omegle belongs to a group that uses social media apps and must be under parental supervision.
While the interactions Fordyce and A.M. had didn’t happen on Omegle’s site, the platform continued to be a central part of their relationship because he forced her to use the website to recruit other children for him, the court papers claim.
The young girl was told she could stop sending Fordyce images at any time she wanted, but if she did, he threatened to leak the photos to her family and friends and told her she’d get in trouble with her parents, school and the police.
For three years, Fordyce held this threat over A.M.’s head. It wasn’t until January 2018, when members of a Canadian police force contacted her parents to tell them the pervert had been arrested for child pornography and images of their daughter had been found in his stash.
A.M. and her attorneys said Omegle is responsible for the abuse the child suffered because it’s where she met Fordyce and if they had employed mechanisms to prevent kids from matching with adults or other safety features, she never would’ve been abused by him.
Omegle had apparently warned users via its homepage that “Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.”omegle.com
“There’s no reason for a video streaming product that randomly pairs adults and children to exist at all, let alone without any real safety controls,”A.M., now aged 19, spoke to The Post through her attorneys.
“This lawsuit is bigger than me, the damage has already been done to me, but my team and I are determined to protect the children after me that are just as vulnerable as I was. Nobody deserves this,”She said.
Omegle claims Omegle knows that predators are on their website, but it is up to users to protect themselves.
“Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful,” the website’s homepage stated through May 2021 before the line was taken down, right around the time A.M.’s attorneys sent a preservation letter to the company.
Although that line has been removed from the website, it still states Omegle “flouts the dangers of its product”on its homepage acknowledging that users “may not behave appropriately”Moderation and their use “is not perfect.”
Omegle didn’t return a request for comment.
Lawyers Carrie Goldberg and Barb Long told The Post they were proud of their client for “channeling her pain to make the world safer for others.”
“Omegle’s popular use is for online sex and it welcomes underage users. The horror our client faced starting at age 11 when Omegle matched her with a child predator was a natural consequence of the inherent and foreseeable dangers of its product,”The attorneys made a joint statement.
“May this be a bright burning warning to all tech companies that if you hurt children, we will hunt you down, and make you answer to your victims in court.”