MOORPARK (CBSLA.com) — A 23-year-old Ventura County man has been arrested in connection to a “sextortion” case where he allegedly targeted underage music fans and conned them into sending him nude photos and videos.
Jeremy Brendan Sears was arrested Wednesday morning on federal child pornography charges, the FBI said.
Sears is accused of finding his victims through social networking groups dedicated to fans of musicians like Justin Bieber and One Direction, an affidavit said.
“Sears set up fake profiles on Facebook, Meetme, and other social networking websites that appeared to be from teenage boys and girls,” authorities said. “Sears allegedly used the bogus profiles to communicate with real-life teenagers, sometimes beginning online romantic relationships with the real-life teens and then encouraging them to send him sexually explicit videos and photos of themselves.”
In some cases, he threatened his victims’ families if they failed to send him nude images.
“After receiving the images of the underage victims, Sears would distribute those images, along with the victims’ names and personal information, to other members of his online social networking groups or to publicly accessible websites,” the FBI said.
On at least one occasion, Sears gained access to his victim’s Facebook account and posted naked pictures of a the girl on her page, according to the affifavid.
Investigators believe Sears has victimized dozens of teens in Southern California and overseas.
He is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on May 20.
Sears is also under investigation by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for a 2013 child luring and extortion case.