Dec. 3, 2010 -- The FBI is warning against the potential misuse of a Barbie doll with video recording capabilities, cautioning that the popular toy could make it easier for sex offenders to surreptitiously film child pornography.
In a memo from the FBI that was mistakenly released to the press and obtained by ABC News, the FBI warned that the Barbie known as "Video Girl," which is equipped with the ability to capture thirty minutes of footage through a concealed camera in the necklace worn by the doll, could be a "pornography production method."
FBI Special Agent Steve Dupre from the Sacremento Field Office, where the memo -- dubbed a "Cyber Crime Alert" -- originated, declined to comment.
Mattel, the manufacturer of the doll, said in a written statement that the FBI has not said that there have been any incidents of this doll "being used as anything other than intended."
"Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind," said the statement. "Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety – it is our number one priority."
But law enforcement sources close to the investigation into the doll tell ABC News that Barbie dolls have been known to be a used by sexual predators looking for ways to attract their young victims.
The combination of the concealed camera and the popular toy concerned officials, according to the source, who said law enforcement agencies nationwide were immediately made aware of the product.
Dr. N.G. Berrill, a forensic psychologist, said that the FBI's warning could serve to be helpful in preventing harm to unsuspecting children.
"It's the potential for surreptitious filming and the luring potential of the doll that makes this particularly insidious," said Berrill.
FBI Warns That New Barbie Could Pose Danger to Children
Berrill said that the common misperception about child molestation is that a complete stranger shows up at a school or a playground and attracts children with a toy or candy. While that is possible, Berrill said, it is not what commonly happens.
"It's a relative rare event that a complete stranger comes along and has a Barbie that gets the kid to come over," said Berrill.
Berrill says he's more concerned about the use of these dolls by individuals who are familiar to a child. The vast majority of child molestation occurs by relatives or friends of the family, or authorities in the child's life, he said.
"If we pair the doll with someone familiar to the child, a babysitter or a friend, then you have something that is fairly dangerous at play," said Berrill.
"A doll that would permit someone who is engaging a child in inappropriate sexual conduct to be able to film it using the doll?" he asked. "That's a scary idea."
Sgt. John Urquhart from the King County Sheriff's Department in Washington told ABC News' affiliate KOMO-TV that this warning will change the way his officers do their jobs.
"When we're doing a search warrant looking for media that a child pornographer may have used we're gonna have to put Barbie on the list just like any other cameras (and) computers," said Urquhart.