An Australian man posing as Canadian singer Justin Bieber on the Internet has been convicted of a staggering 931 sex offenses against children, ranging from rape to possession of child pornography.
According to reports, the man posed as Bieber to lure underage children into sending explicit photos of themselves. The offenses date back to 2007 and involve 157 different victims. The man used a variety of social media platforms including Facebook and Skype to chat to children while posing as the pop star.
Sex predators will often turn to the Internet to groom victims, including children, because of the anonymity that cyberspace offers, where anyone can pretend to be anyone else with only a little technical know-how.
However, the fact that a 42 year old man managed to convince so many different victims that he was Justin Bieber, as well as coerce them into sending explicit material, clearly demonstrates that educating children about the potential dangers on the Internet is as vital as it ever has been.
Investigating officer Detective Inspector Rouse said “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.”
There is an ample variety of threats on the Internet, many of which are tailored towards children specifically. And with more children going online at earlier ages, be it via social media, mobile apps or online games, teaching them the fundamentals about staying safe online and how to spot the myriad of different dangers is going to become increasingly important.
In this case, of the alleged victims, 50 were located in the United States, around 20 were in the UK and six were in the man’s home country of Australia, At this stage, these are only rough numbers.
According to Queensland police, the different alleged offenses are as follows –
Indecent treatment of children 5
Making child exploitation material 272
Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence 9
Using a carriage service for child pornography material – causes to be transmitted to oneself 29
Using a carriage service for child pornography material – transmits/promotes 3
Using a carriage service for child pornography material – solicits 231
Using a carriage service to procure persons under 16 years of age 240
Using carriage service to groom persons under 16 years of age – act in front of sender 92
Using carriage service to groom persons under 16 years of age 39
Using carriage service to transmit indecent communication to person under 16 years of age 7
Use a carriage service to access child pornography material 1
If you’re a parent looking for advice on keeping your children safe online, here are some useful tips and advice –