It’s probably too late for this guy to “say sorry”. A man has been arrested after impersonating singer Justin Bieber online and blackmailing minors. The man used Bieber’s name to get unsuspecting female victims online to send him nude photos.
Arrested for Extortion
The man has been identified as Bryan Asrary. Back in 2014, Asrary found a 9-year-old girl viewing Justin Bieber’s Instagram page and messaged her directly. He claimed that he knew Bieber personally, and could get the celebrity to text the girl. Obviously a big fan, the girl agreed.
Asrary then proceeded to text the girl himself, pretending to be Bieber. After gaining the girl’s confidence, he started asking for nude photos and videos. The girl did send them, and last year Asrary contacted her again to demand more. The demands then turned to threats, as Asrary started blackmailing her with the previous photos if she refused to comply, according to TMZ.
In time, the young victim confessed what was happening to her mother, who contacted the police. Upon his arrest, Asrary admitted to preying on other girls online. He’s facing charges of child pornography and extortion. Gossipcop has reached out to Bieber’s rep for a comment, but so far, it seems as if the singer himself is unaware of the impersonator.
Asrary’s young victim, unfortunately, is not the first of her kind. The internet age has made it easy to access anyone with a social media account from behind the anonymity of their computer screen.
According to Brookings.edu, an overwhelming majority of “sextortion” victims are minors. 71% of cases primarily involve victims below 18 years old, mostly female, but with some cases of boys being targeted as well. The victims are also reached through manipulation of social media 91% of the time, such as in the case of Bryan Asrary above. Computer hacking is involved 43% of the time.
In an age when a sexual predator’s victim could be halfway across the world, parents are urged to educate their children on such dangers. Cybersecurity isn’t only for those trying to protect their credit card numbers; it’s also for kids who have yet to grasp the concept of stranger danger. As Brock Nicholson, Atlanta head of Homeland Security says, “Predators used to stalk playgrounds; this is the new playground.”