LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 24-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of posing as Justin Bieber in order to extort sexually explicit images from a young girl, authorities announced Tuesday.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Bryan Asrary was taken into custody on Dec. 18, 2016, by Massachusetts State Police at his home just outside Boston.
Asrary was booked for child pornography, which was discovered on his cell phone and computer during a search warrant.
He is also facing multiple charges in California for extortion, manufacturing child pornography, and communicating with a minor with the intent to commit a sex act.
Asrary is accused of targeting the 9-year-old victim on Instagram in 2014. He allegedly sent her a direct message stating that he knew Justin Bieber, and offered to arrange a text messaging chat with her and the singer.
Out of excitement, the young Bieber fan accepted the offer and followed instructions to set up an account with the text messaging site Kik.
The victim began texting with someone who she believed was Bieber, but did not realize the person she was communicating with was Asrary.
During their conversation, Asrary threatened to harm the girl if she didn't send nude photos and videos of herself.
After sending the pictures, the victim deleted the text messages and kept the conversation a secret.
Two years later, Asrary allegedly contacted the victim and threatened to publish the previously obtained photos if she didn't send more.
The girl told her mother about the incident, and contacted authorities.
The sheriff's department served several search warrants for information from Instagram and Kik, which ultimately led to Asrary's arrest.
During an interview, Asrary confessed to extorting the girl for sexual images and video. He also implicated himself in similar crimes against other young girls across the country.
A preliminary investigation revealed Asrary had no actual connection to Bieber. He fabricated the relationship to influence his young victims.
Asrary is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
If convicted as charged, he faces a sentence of several years in prison.
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