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Durham Police Say Phone Chat Line Is Dialing Up Trouble

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DURHAM — People who call a telephone chat line in Durham may be dialing up trouble.

In the last month, Durham police have linked three sexual assaults and an armed robbery to the "City Chat Central" line. With school out for the summer, police are concerned more teenagers will become victims of a dangerous fad.

The recording that greets callers to City Chat Central says the service is for adults only. Durham police say predators are using the phone line to target victims, some of them being kids.

"There are predators on these lines setting up these kids to lure them into situations that they're not prepared to deal with," says Sgt. Mike Montgomery of the Durham Police Department.

One victim was robbed at gunpoint after he arranged a meeting at Northgate Mall. Police say a woman lured the man she met through City Chat across the street to Walltown Park where three men robbed him at gunpoint.

Police also say three teenage girls were sexually assaulted by older men after agreeing to meet them at malls or hotels.

Police warn there could more victims this summer, now that kids have more free time on their hands. They say the entire family is at risk when kids dial up strangers.

"He knows when the family is gone that the kids are unknowingly giving personal information about the entire family out to a total stranger," Montgomery says.

City Chat warns users not to give out their name or phone numbers. The phone line says it is not responsible if that advice is ignored. Durham police are investigating who owns the City Chat line.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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