You wouldn't think anyone would go around posing as Justin Bieber, let alone a grown man. But that's exactly what Robert Hunter, 35, did. Why was he pretending to be the teenage star? To convince underage girls to strip for him online while he recorded them.
One savvy girl figured out something was wrong and turned Hunter in. Police found more than 900 videos and images of underage girls in Hunter's possession. Authorities report that some of the girls were as young as 9 years old.
I've never really thought of "catfishing" someone (assuming a false identity) on the Internet as being anything other than awkward and selfish. To a degree, in the past I've understood stories about this phenomenon that have surfaced. Insecure people assume the identities of an attractive stranger to forge connections online with more confidence. It's always been sad to me, nothing more.
But this is the ultimate "catfish," and it's scary as hell. This wasn't an insecure dude trying to make friends. This was a calculating, malicious predator feeding off of the weak. Imagine if the girl who turned him in had never realized that his story didn't hold up? He might have continued doing this for years. That's truly disgusting.
How do you think we should go about protecting our identities online?
Image via Victor1558/Flickr