TODAY   |  February 26, 2014

Rossen Reports: Adults caught buying ‘teens’ booze

TODAY’s national investigative correspondent reveals exclusive hidden-camera footage of adults caught buying alcohol for over-21 actors posing as underage teens. Rossen confronts the adults over their actions.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> thousands of teenagers die every year as a result, and authorities say it's often adults supplying them the alcohol. so "today" national investigative correspondent jeff rossen used hidden cameras to put adults to the test. the results are shocking.

>> they are. and so many people are dying from this. spring break is coming up. and you know what that means, teenagers are looking to score alcohol. and you're about to see how easy it is for them to get it. if you were walking into a liquor store and a couple of kids you've never met before asked you, hey, can you buy us booze? would you do it? wait until you see what we found. surprising results when we went undercover in the suburbs.

>> it's the middle of the day . and these kids want a drink.

>> do you think you could get me a six-pack?

>> they hit the jackpot. adults they just met buying them booze.

>> $7.

>> we're watching it all on hidden camera .

>> hi, ma'am.

>> oh, you've got to be kidding me.

>> make no mistake, underage drinking can turn tragic. 4,700 young people dying each year from alcohol poisoning to drunk driving . authorities say it's often an adult supplying the booze. so we set up an experiment in suburb suburban new jersey. we wired up this store with our hidden cameras and hired these two actors. they're both over 21 but posing as underage teens.

>> excuse me, sir.

>> approaching nearly two dozen customers.

>> do you think you could get us a six pack?

>> we were encouraged. none of the men gave them alcohol.

>> i don't think so.

>> just a couple of beers.

>> no.

>> you look like a baby.

>> but the women.

>> hey, ma'am, do you think you could do me a big favor?

>> -- were about to surprise us.

>> do you think you could get me a six-pack?

>> how could you do this to me?

>> she seems to know it's wrong, but keep watching.

>> thank you.

>> give me that.

>> that's right. she goes inside, grabs the beer and gives our fake teens the alcohol.

>> you guys don't get in trouble.

>> that's when i come out to talk. oh, no. i was thinking about you guys when i did it.

>> why did you do that?

>> because i felt guilty.

>> you feel bad?

>> yes, i do feel bad. they're going to do it whether i buy it or somebody else buys it.

>> some women did say no.

>> can you do me a favor?

>> sorry, no. i can't.

>> please.

>> but it didn't take long to find another yes.

>> excuse me, could you do us a favor and grab us a six-pack?

>> if i get in trouble -- i'm sorry, guys.

>> but suddenly she changes her mind. she buys the beer and within minutes, this discreet handoff. be safe, guys, please.

>> hi, ma'am.

>> oh, you've got to be kidding me.

>> why did you do it?

>> they looked old enough. i thought they didn't have i.d. next time i'll know.

>> we showed our results to jan withers, president of mothers against drunk driving .

>> no man gave our actors alcohol, but it was the women who did.

>> i found that just amazing. i expect them to be more protective, more cautious.

>> but the biggest shock of the day came from this next woman.

>> what do you want? come on.

>> a six-pack of bud light .

>> she issues this warning.

>> if you ever give me trouble for this, i will hunt you down like a dog.

>> she gives them the beer outside even offering this tip.

>> don't hang out in front of the liquor store . you've got to be a little bit further away next time.

>> you know, it can be dangerous for kids to have alcohol.

>> look, polimister, get away from me.

>> it's dangerous, not fun and games at all. and we need to protect our kids.

>> told you it was surprising. police say there is a reason the legal age is 21 to drink. studies show, kids get drunk faster because they don't weigh as much and they're more likely, as we all know, to use bad judgment when they are drunk. experts say our story should be a wake-up call for everybody, matt, and a good one either to talk to your kids so they don't go and do that.

>> what was stunning to me, even as they would give the kids the beer, they would then say to them, now, be good.

>> as if that's enough.

>> there's tug of war going on in their minds.