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Moorpark man held in 'sextortion' case of fans of Justin Bieber

Law EnforcementJuvenile DelinquencyCrimeFBIJustin Bieber

A 23-year-old Ventura County man was arrested on suspicion of using social-network sites to extort and trick girls and boys into sending him naked photos and videos.

The victims were fans of performers and musical groups such as Justin Bieber and One Direction and active on social media sites for fans of musical performers, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Federal authorities allege that Jeremy Brendan Sears set up fake profiles on Facebook, MeetMe and other such sites and began communication with teens and, in some cases, starting online romantic relationships. He was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and Ventura County sheriff's deputies.

Sears, who is a Moorpark resident, "extorted minors into producing sexually explicit, lascivious and naked photographs of themselves," according to a two-count criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

Authorities said in a statement that "Sears threatened to harm the real-life teens and their loved ones unless they sent him naked images." 

Sears is accused of accessing a girl's Facebook page and posting naked photos of her where they could be seen by friends and classmates.

Sears is also the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department and was charged last year by county prosecutors with targeting a teenage boy by claiming to be a girl. Authorities said they suspect that several dozen teens were victimized.

Anyone with information is asked to call FBI in Ventura at (805) 642-3995 or the Sheriff's Department at (805) 654-9511.

 

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

Twitter: @LAJourno

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