Internet cops - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Internet cops

Updated:
Dannie Sanders chats with online sexual predators, working to catch the ones who prey on minors. Dannie Sanders chats with online sexual predators, working to catch the ones who prey on minors.
The Internet is teeming with sexual predators trying to chat with young girls and boys. The Internet is teeming with sexual predators trying to chat with young girls and boys.
Gov. Brad Henry tried to establish a seven-member ICAC unit, but state legislature only handed over enough money for three. Gov. Brad Henry tried to establish a seven-member ICAC unit, but state legislature only handed over enough money for three.

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

Dannie Sanders is sometimes called Abby when he's online. He pretends to be a young girl, this time 13 years old. 

"You can be anything, anybody, you want to be," said Sanders.

But Sanders doesn't do this pretending for fun, he does it to keep Oklahoma's children a little safer.  

Sanders is an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations agent working on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). While the ICAC has been in formation since 2003, OSBI recently received increased state funding-allowing the agents to create an entirely separate task force rather than one bundled in with computer forensics.

"It allows us to work a lot more cases than we have in the past," said Steve Tanner, the task force's commander.

The task force has three specially trained agents that track and catch online predators who target children like Sanders. This safety task force covers all 77 counties in Oklahoma and includes 26 agencies like district attorney offices, police departments, and sheriff offices across the state.

Less than one minute after Sanders entered into a chat room, he received his first pornographic message--a pop-up advertisement.

"Your child might not be looking for pornography, but it's offered anyway," said Sanders.

But pornographic pop-ups are just the beginning. A few minutes later, a man claiming to be a 17-year-old man from Waco, Texas asked Sanders for his age, sex and location. He was lewd and direct, asking a lot of inappropriate questions, like what was Abby's breast size.

"It's like phone sex on the computer, that's his goal," said Sanders. "That's what he wants."

But the true shock came in the form of a streaming video from someone else's webcam. After accepting a stranger's webcam image, a graphic video of a man masturbating, live and online, appeared on the screen. The man didn't stop asking Abby sexual questions even after Sanders said he was 13 years old.

"We've come out and said what our age is, and it does not matter," said Sanders. "He hasn't turned off his webcam; he's still asking me about sexual content."

While many parents might be shocked at what transpired between "Abby" and her online predators, it's just another day on the job for the ICAC agent. 

The Online Victimization of Youth 2006 survey from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shows one in every seven children who go online are solicited for "unwanted sex." In the same study, one out of three online youths was exposed to unwanted sexual material.

Task members like Dannie Sanders and Les Little record everything said that may sound sexual; they investigate the alleged predators; and follow-up on cyber tips from the public.  

"Most everyone online, you can find," said Inspector Les Little, Stillwater Police officer and a task member. "They leave clues. There's a trail they leave through the Internet."

With over a billion people online, police realize they can not catch all the bad guys out there, so they prioritize. If a real child is in danger, or possibly in danger, the case moves to up on the task force list. There can always be more done, but there is not enough funding to complete all the work agents want to complete.

"We need more resources; we need more investigators-and I will continue to push for that," said Governor Brad Henry.

Governor Henry tried to establish a seven-member ICAC unit this past year, but state legislature only handed over enough money for three people.  The Governor will encourage lawmakers to increase that figure again next session. 

As Oklahoma waits to gain more funding and catch more child predators, parents can do their part, said Sanders. Parents should remain alert, track what their children are doing online, and communicate what dangers exist in cyberspace for their children.

"That's one of the most basic things we have to do as a parent-protect our children," said Sanders.  

Originally Aired: 11-06-2007

Powered by Frankly
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.