Woman arrested for using deepfake tech to harass, frame daughter’s cheerleading rivals
In a disturbing use of deepfake technology, a mother from Pennsylvania in the United States has been arrested for framing her daughter’s cheerleading rivals for lewd acts they did not commit.
Raffaela Spone, 50, digitally put the faces of members of the Victory Vipers squad in “naked, drinking and smoking” photos and videos and sent these to their coach, as per The Philadelphia Inquirer on March 13.
She also sent these fake images to the girls themselves and harassed them, including telling them to kill themselves, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub’s office said as cited by the report.
Spone last year produced manipulated photos of at least three members of the Victory Vipers, a traveling cheerleading squad. Parents of the victims contacted the police after their daughters received threats from an anonymous number, which turned out to have been Spone’s.
Upon analysis, the content Spone sent to the coach and the victims themselves were found to have been deepfakes, which she generated by using the girls’ photos on social media, according to the report.
Detectives were able to trace the unknown number to Spone after they found a website that sells phone numbers to telemarketers, which is where Spone got the girls’ numbers.
Upon investigation of her phone, authorities determined that Spone was the person harassing and sending the fake photos to the victims.
It was not determined whether Spone created the deepfakes herself or if she hired someone to do it for her. There is also no evidence that her teenage daughter, who is in high school, had knowledge of her actions, the report said.
Spone was charged with misdemeanor counts of cyber harassment of a child and related offenses earlier this month but has since been released on the condition that she appears at a preliminary hearing on March 30.
While disturbing, it is not the first time such use of the technology has been recorded. For one, security firm Sensity last year reported that 104,852 women were targeted in July alone to have an artificial-intelligence-powered bot create nude deepfakes of them, which were shared online by thousands of users. Ian Biong /ra
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