An Australian man who allegedly posed as Justin Bieber online has been charged with more than 900 child sex offenses, Billboard reported Wednesday. The 42-year-old man, Queensland police said, impersonated Bieber in an effort to solicit explicit images from children under the age of 16.
"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 in a statement Wednesday. "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."
Detectives had been investigating the man, who had previously been charged with "a number" of child sex offenses including possession of child exploitation material, when they seized his computer and discovered a "large amount" of additional exploitation material dating back to 2007. The man allegedly used Facebook, Skype, and other platforms to communicate with his victims.
Additionally, the man has been charged with rape, indecent treatment of children, and making child exploitation material as part of this week's total of 931 child sex offenses. Police have urged Bieber fans and their parents to remain "extra vigilant" online. "The breadth of offenses committed in this instance are frankly horrendous and I want to recognize the efforts and commitment of the investigative team at Taskforce Argos to keeping children safe," Rouse said.
According to BBC News, Queensland authorities were assisted in the investigation by German police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.