A 24-year-old Massachusetts man is accused of posing online as Justin Bieber to get nude photos and videos from an underage girl, PEOPLE confirms. Investigators believe there may be more victims across the country.
Law enforcement agencies in two states have filed child pornography and extortion charges against Bryan Asrary, who allegedly confessed to extorting a California girl via social media in order to obtain the sexual images and videos. Asrary threatened to harm the girl if she did not do as he said, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department alleged in a statement Monday.
Asrary was arrested in Revere, Massachusetts, on Dec. 18 — six weeks after an 11-year-old girl came forward to authorities with claims that she’d been extorted two years earlier by a man who said he was Bieber. (Asrary has “no actual connection” to Bieber, the L.A. sheriff’s department says.)
The gap in time between Asrary’s arrest and the announcement about his case was not immediately explained.
The sheriff’s statement on Asrary’s apprehension alleges he not only confessed to extorting the then-9-year-old victim for sexual images and videos, but further implicated himself in several similar crimes around the country.
Authorities anticipate additional victims will be identified. Their investigation is ongoing.
The girl who came forward on Nov. 3 “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,” the L.A. sheriff’s office said in its statement.
“That user [the suspect] stated that he knew Bieber and offered to arrange a text meeting with the victim. Excited at the proposition to text with Justin Bieber, the young victim accepted the offer and was directed to set up an account on the social media site, Kik.”
Asrary, pretending to be Bieber, started communicating with the victim through Kik, investigators claim. Soon, he allegedly began “demanding nude photos of the victim and threatened harm if she didn’t cooperate.”
As allegedly directed, the girl took several nude selfies and videos of herself and transmitted the illicit files to Asrary, according to authorities. “After sending the pictures, the victim deleted the texts between her and the suspect and kept the incident a secret,” the statement claims.
But Asrary resurfaced as Bieber in early November and “twice contacted the victim and threatened to publish and broadcast the previously obtained photos if the victim didn’t supply additional nude photos and video.”
The girl told her mother about Asrary’s alleged demands, and the authorities were notified.
Asrary has been charged by Massachusetts State Police with possession of child pornography. Illicit images and videos of underage girls were found on his computer and smart phone, police said. His bail has been set at $20,000.