This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Western Australia Police Force
A WA man who allegedly pretended to be a teenage social media celebrity to blackmail girls online into performing sex acts has been charged with a further 65 offences.
This takes the total number of charges to 312 after further investigation by the Western Australia Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET).
The 25-year-old Parkwood man is currently remanded in custody and is expected to appear in Perth Magistrate’s Court to answer the new charges today (Friday, 23 April 2021). He is now facing charges relating to 285 alleged victims in Australia and other countries.
This includes multiple counts of compelling a victim to engage in sexual behaviour and performing acts in preparation for engaging in sexual activity with a person under-16. He is also accused of multiple counts of using a carriage service to menace or harass, by threatening to send and share embarrassing images relating to a victim if she did not meet his demands.
Police will allege the man posed as an online celebrity to befriend girls in Australia and other countries, before ‘sextorting’ them.
He allegedly asked sexually explicit questions and would edit the written chat to change the girls’ answers. Police allege he would threaten to send screen shots of the doctored conversations to their friends and family if they refused to provide nude photographs or perform sexual acts live on camera for him and others to watch.
Police will allege when a victim complied with his demands, he would record the sexually explicit behaviour and threaten to release it to people they knew unless they performed more extreme behaviour.
The man also allegedly had online conversations with other people about the offending.
WA JACET officers are working with international law enforcement partners and social media companies to try to identify the girls targeted, to check on their welfare and provide support.
Some of the alleged victims are believed to be as young as 11.
AFP Detective Senior Constable Barry Duman, from WA JACET, reviewed the seized recordings in this matter and said it has been heartbreaking to see the distress and fear experienced by the girls targeted.
The man first faced court on 23 October (2020) charged with the alleged sextortion of 112 girls, after an investigation that started when both the United States’ Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Interpol alerted the Australian Federal Police about a person suspected to be in Australia using social media to target girls overseas.
The 25-year-old was charged with further offences in January 2021 and the 65 charges are the third tranche of offences resulting from the investigation by WA JACET, which comprises of officers from the AFP and WA Police Force.
Detective Senior Constable Duman said WA JACET officers are working with law enforcement partners around the world to protect children both in Australia and overseas from abuse and exploitation.
“We will never give up our fight to keep children safe and we urge parents and carers to help us by talking to children about what platforms, apps and games they are using and reminding them never to reveal personal information to any ‘friends’ they meet online,” he said.
“Supervision is not only critical to prevent an incident occurring, but can also help adults to quickly take action if something goes wrong.
“If your child is or has been a victim, reassure them that it’s not their fault and that there is help available – children and young people are never to blame for being a victim of online child sexual exploitation.”
Previous media releases on this matter:
Adults and children can be the targets of sextortion, also known as image-based abuse. If this has happened to you, consider the following course of action:
- do not send any more personal images or videos;
- get support from a trusted friend or family member, or professional support services;
- collect as much evidence as you can, including screenshots, URLs or any other records;
- block the person’s number/profile/email address (do this after collecting evidence);
- giving in to requests is not encouraged, once you have complied with their demands there is nothing preventing them from targeting you again;
- report the matter to police.
If you are worried about your physical safety, call Triple Zero (000) or contact your local police station.
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to report it via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation at www.accce.gov.au/report.