A 42-year-old Australian man is facing nearly 1,000 charges after he allegedly posed as singer Justin Bieber to trick more than 150 young children into sending him sexually explicit images, police say. He also faces three counts of rape.
The man, whose identity has not been made public, was charged on Thursday with 931 child sex offenses, including 3 counts of rape, 5 counts of indecent treatment of children, and 272 counts of making child exploitation material. They are in addition to earlier child pornography and child grooming charges.
An examination of the man's computer uncovered "a large amount" of child pornography and investigators believe that his crimes date back to at least 2007. The Queensland Police Service said the man used online platforms such as Facebook and Skype to communicate with his victims.
A police spokeswoman said the case involves 7 Australian children and 151 children from countries around the world, including more than 50 children who live in the United States. Other details, such as the ages of the victims or information about the rape charges, were not immediately released.
"This investigation demonstrates both the vulnerability of children that are utilizing social media and communication applications and the global reach and skill that child sex offenders have to groom and seduce victims," Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said.
Rouse added: "The fact that so many children could believe that they were communicating with this particular celebrity highlights the need for a serious rethink about the way that we as a society educate our children about online safety."
The man is scheduled to appear in court on April 6.
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