Fort Smith man impersonated child stars on social media, lured children into sending nude photos

·2 min read
Marcus Bourke in a photo he posted to Facebook in April of 2018. Bourke pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and to messaging children on social media on Dec. 20, 2021.  (Marcus Bourke/Facebook - image credit)
Marcus Bourke in a photo he posted to Facebook in April of 2018. Bourke pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and to messaging children on social media on Dec. 20, 2021. (Marcus Bourke/Facebook - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains information on child luring and include some vulgar language.

A Fort Smith, N.W.T., man used social media to impersonate teen internet stars and lured children from across the world into sending him nude photos of themselves.

According to court documents filed with the Northwest Territories Supreme Court, Marcus Bourke, 25, pleaded guilty on Monday to 10 counts of possessing child pornography and for making arrangements with underage parties through telecommunications.

The agreed statement of facts said between October 2016 and November 2018, Bourke was engaged in a campaign to obtain child pornography from children on social media.

Bourke used the sites Musical.ly and Instagram to send thousands of messages to children ranging in age from four to 14 in Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and proposition them with a series of escalating "challenges" with the promise of making them "famous."

In 2016, Bourke used Musical.ly, a social media site where users upload short videos, with the account handle @jacobs_swag (Musical.ly was later renamed TikTok.) His account impersonated Jacob Sartorius, an American singer and internet personality who was 13 at the time.

He used the account to solicit over 10 photos of a nine-year-old girl in Alberta.

The parents of the girl flagged Bourke's account which was deactivated by Musical.ly.

He then created a new account, @muser_11222, where he proceeded to message 730 accounts, sending 9,000 messages and receiving 16,000.

Of these messages, Bourke received 1,830 images and 152 videos — 20 of those accounts sent nude pictures or videos to Bourke.

Bourke also had an Instagram account called @bowbow1231, where he impersonated Jojo Siwa, a child celebrity who was 15 at the time.

Here he would often message children, asking them, "Do you want to be famous?"

If he received a positive response, he would say, "I'll make you famous if you do challenges."

Some of Bourke's messages included, "First challenge make your feet touch your face."

These escalated to, "Show how high you can lift your shirt" and, "Show your butthole."

In 2018, from Nov. 14 to 21, Bourke received images and videos from 100 female children aged five to 14. He received 32 nude images and 84 videos from five children.

The investigation into Bourke involved the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Crime Centre, Florida-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Yellowknife RCMP's Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

Investigators traced the IP address to a home in Fort Smith, where the internet was registered to Bourke's grandmother.

When police arrived, according to court documents, Bourke told his grandmother, "I'm sorry, it was me."

There police found child pornography, including 161 images and 15 videos on his iPhone as well as eight images and six videos on his laptop.

Bourke will appear in court again on Feb. 21.

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