A Western Australian man who allegedly pretended to be a teenage social media celebrity in order to ‘sextort’ girls online has been charged with 134 additional offences, following continuing investigations by the Western Australia Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (known as WA JACET).
The 25-year-old man from Parkwood, a suburb of Perth, appeared in the Perth Magistrate’s Court by video-link on Friday in relation to the new offences. He is now facing a total of 247 charges relating to 245 alleged victims.
Befriended girls in Australia and overseas
Police are alleging the man assumed a celebrity identity online to befriend girls in Australia and overseas, before blackmailing them into providing him with sexually explicit images or videos.
WA JACET launched an investigation after reports from United States’ Homeland Security Investigations and Interpol about a person suspected to be in Australia who was targeting girls through social media.
The man faced court for the first time on 23 October last year on charges relating to 112 alleged victims.
Accused had his bail revoked in October
Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers then arrested the man on 27 October after they found he was failing to comply with a requirement of his bail conditions and successfully applied to the court to have his bail revoked.
An ongoing review of hundreds of social media chats and other data, including sexually explicit images, stored on the man’s devices resulted in the further charges relating to 133 alleged victims.
The review is ongoing and police have not ruled out laying more charges.
Support for the girls he allegedly targeted
WA JACET, which comprises officers from the AFP and WA Police Force, are working with international law enforcement partners and the social media companies to try to identify the girls targeted, in order to check on their welfare and provide them support.
According to a media statement by the AFP, both adults and children can be the targets of sextortion, also known as image-based abuse.
Police advise that if this has happened to you, do not send any more personal images or videos and get support from a trusted friend or family member, or professional support services.
Also collect as much evidence as you can, including screenshots, URLs or any other records. Thereafter, block the person’s phone number, profile or email address.