Police are stressing the importance of parents monitoring their children’s online activities closely, warning that there are online predators posing as celebrities on social media in an attempt to lure children in.
According to College Candy, Detective Inspector Jon Rouse, who runs task force Argos, a specialist branch responsible for tracking online child exploitation in Queensland, Australia, reveals that “Identity assumption by child sex offenders is increasing quite steadily.”
BBC News reported that Detective Rouse had led a recent investigation in which a 42-year-old man posing as Justin Bieber on his social media accounts, persuaded children to send him nudes. He was eventually caught and has been charged with over 900 child sex offenses.
“The fact that so many children across the world could believe that they were talking to Justin Bieber and that Justin Bieber would make them do the things that they did, is really quite concerning,” Rouse told BBC News. “I think a re-evaluation of the way we educate children about safe online behavior is really needed.”
Asking to conceal her identity, the mother of an eight year old girl told BBC News that a predator had messaged her two days after downloading a newly launched social media app.
“The first message was inviting you to enter a competition and to win it you get a five minute chat (with the celebrity),” she said. “And then the second message that came up was along the lines of ‘all you need to do is send me a photo of you naked or of your vagina.’ And then all these messages flew across the screen. Then the third message said ‘don’t worry about it. All the girls are sending me these photos. Just do it. It’ll be our secret’. And then the last message was ‘do it now,’” according to College Candy.
Rouse stressed the dangers of Musical.ly – a social media platform that was launched in 2014.
This app that allows people to upload 15 seconds of themselves singing, has attracted a significant number of child sex offenders to “groom children.”
It’s “a very well-known international fact, believe it or not,” he said.