Woman Creates Deepfakes to Get Cheerleaders Thrown Off Team-news

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There’s a good reason social networks have banned the use of deepfakes, and a woman in Buck County, Pennsylvania has just demonstrated why.

As The Philadelphia InquirerThe Philadelphia Inquirer reports, 50-year-old Raffaela Spone was arrested last week after it was discovered she created deepfake photos and videos of three cheerleaders. It’s thought Spone was attempting to get the girls thrown off the traveling cheerleading squad called the Victory Vipers.

According to Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub’s office, the three cheerleaders in question initially received anonymous messages containing the altered photos and a suggestion they should kill themselves. Victory Vipers coaches were also sent the deepfakes, which showed the girls naked, drinking, and smoking. Other messages showed the girls in bikinis with the subject line stating “drinking at the shore.”

Local police investigated when one of the families came forward last July. They found the original images had been posted by the cheerleaders on their social media accounts, but someone had subsequently downloaded and manipulated them to create the deepfakes. The messages were traced back first to a website selling phone numbers to telemarketers, then to an IP address linked to Spone’s home in Chalfont. After that, searching Spone’s smartphone provided the evidence she had manipulated the content and sent the messages.

Spone has been charged with “misdemeanor counts of cyber harassment of a child and related offenses.” There’s no evidence her daughter was involved and no clear reason given as to why Spone decided to take this action. George Ratel, a parent of one of the victims, says his daughter used to be friends with Spone’s daughter, but they had told her to stop hanging out with her “due to concerns over the other girl’s behavior.”

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