LOS ANGELES - A Massachusetts man is accused of duping a Los Angeles County girl into sending him nude selfies and videos, beginning when she was 9 years old, by tricking her into believing he was Justin Bieber, a sheriff's sergeant said.
The 24-year-old suspect, Bryan Asrary of Revere, was arrested on Dec. 18, when a search warrant was served at his home by Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives, according to Sgt. Peter Hahn of the Human Trafficking Bureau.
Detectives launched an investigation on Nov. 3 after learning that the girl, who was by then 11, was allegedly being extorted over the Internet for sexually explicit images, according to Hahn.
The child's mother called authorities after her daughter told her what was happening, he said.
"The victim disclosed to detectives that two years prior, when she was just 9 years old, she was viewing the Instagram page of superstar Justin Bieber when she received a direct message from another Instagram user," Hahn said. "That user (the suspect) stated that he knew Bieber and offered to arrange a text meeting with the victim."
Excited at the prospect of exchanging texts with the singer, the girl accepted the offer and was directed to set up an account on KIK, a messaging and social media site popular with teens, the sergeant said.
"The victim then began communicating on KIK with someone she believed was actually Justin Bieber," he said. But soon after, the suspect, still representing himself as the singer, "began demanding nude photos of the victim and threatened harm if she didn't cooperate," Hahn alleged.
The girl sent the images, but then deleted the texts between her and the suspect and kept the matter a secret, according to Hahn.
Two years later, in 2016, the suspect twice contacted her again and threatened to make public the images he already had if she didn't send more, Hahn alleged. That's when the girl told her mother what was happening, he said.
Detectives obtained warrants for information from "the relevant social media sites," which led investigators to identify Asrary as the alleged culprit, Hahn said.
Evidence "revealed that the sextortion had been committed from across the nation," according to Hahn, who alleged that Asrary "not only confessed to extorting the victim for sexual images and videos, but also implicated himself in similar crimes against other young girls throughout the country."
Massachusetts State Police also arrested Asrary, alleging possession of child pornography found on his cellphone and computer, Hahn said.
"Additional victims will be identified as part of the ongoing investigation," Hahn said.
"In addition to local charges in Massachusetts, Asrary will face multiple charges in California to include extortion, manufacturing child pornography and communicating with a minor with the intent to commit a sex act," Hahn said.
The suspect had no contact or relationship with Bieber, "but simply fabricated the relationship to influence his young victims," Hahn alleged.