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Man arrested after alleged Internet luring in 3-D chat room

JEFFERSON COUNTY - During a decoy operation, investigators allege a man approached an officer posing as an underage girl for sexual contact in a new 3-D online chat room.

Jefferson and Gilpin Counties District Attorney Scott Storey said Thursday investigators arrested Steven Wayne Wood, 26, of Denver, on suspicion of Internet luring.

Investigators say Wood was in the 3-D chat room IMVU which uses avatar animated characters designed by members. They say Wood contacted who he thought was a young female but was actually a law enforcement officer acting as a decoy.

After a short investigation where investigators contacted Wood, he turned himself in.

He will receive his charges February 27 at 10 a.m.

Many area parents have expressed sincere concern regarding the chat room as it enables children as young as 11 to create a three-dimensional character using different features such as hair color, clothing choices and so forth. Parents are also concerned because each character has the ability express different actions such as flirty, bashful or angry. Characters can also give different types of hugs and kisses.

Storey warned, "The use of avatar animation on this site will make it even more appealing to younger users. It appears to kids to be a perfect world where they can create themselves to look like they want to look and dress like they want to dress. They can direct and star in their own video. In reality, it is just one more resource for predators to hide behind a facade as they lure our unsuspecting children."

IMVU released a statement on Thursday saying they are fully cooperating with the District Attorney's Office and with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

IMVU says it has added other safety features that include terms of service that govern customer interactions, a way for people to report abusive or inappropriate behavior quickly, and it encourages users not to share personal information.

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