A man who allegedly posed as singer Justin Bieber online has been charged with more than 900 child sex offenses, including rape.
The 42-year-old man allegedly used multiple platforms — including Facebook and Skype — to communicate with his victims, Australian police said in a statement Thursday.
“The breadth of offenses committed in this instance are frankly horrendous,” Queensland Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said.
The man allegedly posed as Bieber in order to solicit explicit images from children under 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,” Rouse said.
Police warned parents and Bieber fans to be extra vigilant when using the internet.
“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,” Rouse said.
Police said they found a large amount of child exploitation material on the suspect’s computer, and that his offending dates back at least 10 years.
The alleged offender was investigated and arrested by the Argos Taskforce, a special branch of the police in Queensland responsible for the investigation of online child exploitation and abuse.
The Canadian singer is in the final week of his Australia tour which ends on March 15.