Omegle randomly matches users for video and text chats – Photo: OLI SCARFF / AFP / Getty Images.
A chat site encouraging children to “talk to strangers” became a dangerous fate that influenced an 11-year-old girl who was forced to become the digital sex slave of a predator state in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
Omegle, which randomly matches users for video and text chats, bills itself as a “great way to meet new friends” but has become a haven for pedophiles and stalkers who use the site to see how people are having fun, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Oregon.
The site, which has 66 million monthly users Worldwide, says children over 13 can use the platform with parental supervision and permission. Still, it has no system to ensure they are being supervised, according to the lawsuit for $ 22 million.
The suit says the site also does not require users to verify their age or name before using the social network and has no mechanism to prevent children from being randomly matched with adults and vice versa.
In 2014, an 11-year-old girl who identified herself as “AM” logged onto Omegle after using it with her friends at sleepovers, hoping to meet other high school students like her.
Instead, she was connected to Ryan Scott Fordyce, a now convicted Canadian pedophile, who was in his 30s at the time and now faces 10 years behind bars.
Fordyce immediately began grooming the girl and forced her to give her her information so they could keep in touch outside the platform that allows users to be anonymous.
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There, he asked her to send him pictures of her naked and told her that he could make her “feel better” and that she needed to trust him because he was “integral to her ‘healing,’” even if his requests made her feel uncomfortable, according to the demand.
At first, Fordyce wanted to see images of the girl’s “smile” but soon began asking for snapshots of her body and then demanding specific “poses, accessories, positions and hairstyles,” the lawsuit describes.
The pedophile set deadlines for his twisted “assignments,” threatened to kidnap AM or harm his family, and demanded that he be “at his entire disposal” “at all hours of the day and night.”
Although the Fordyce and AM interactions did not happen within the Omegle 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, court documents state.
Fordyce threatened to leak the photos to his family and friends and told him that he would get in trouble with his parents, the school, and the police.
For three years, Fordyce maintained this threat on AM
It wasn’t until January 2018 that members of a Canadian police force contacted her parents to tell them that the pervert had been arrested for child pornography and that images of their daughter had been found in their hiding place.