Mum’s ‘sick fake nude plot’ on cheerleaders
A woman has been charged for allegedly creating "deepfake" images of her cheerleader daughter's rivals in a bid to have them kicked off the team.
Raffaela Spone, 50, of Pennsylvania, US, was charged with cyber harassment of a child and stands accused of creating the completely false images, which show the teens drinking, smoking and in the nude, police said.
Ms Spone was arrested on March 4, after authorities alleged the mother sent the explicit photos to the coaches of the Victory Vipers cheerleading team in a big to get the girls kicked off the team, The Sun reports.
Ms Spone is also accused of sending anonymous harassing texts to the girls, including ones urging them to kill themselves.
There was no indication her teenage daughter knew what her mother was doing, according to court documents obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Police learned in July that one of the victims had been receiving harassing text messages from an unknown number and that her coaches were sent photos of her naked, drinking and vaping, court documents state.
Two more girls came forward with complaints about the fake photos showing them in bikinis, which led police to investigate the anonymous number and content.
Police discovered the photos and videos were "deepfakes" - images which appear to look authentic but have been digitally altered.
They were created by mapping the victims' social media photos onto different images.
Investigators traced the number back to telemarketers, and followed data to an IP address coming from Spone's home in Chalfont, about 50 minutes north of Philadelphia.
Victory Vipers told ABC News it co-operated with police during the investigation and that "all athletes involved, are no longer a part of our program".
"Victory Vipers has always promoted a family environment and we are sorry for all individuals involved," the team said in a statement.
"We have very well-established policies and a very strict anti-bullying policy in our program."
George Ratel, whose daughter Ms Spone allegedly victimised, said he's frustrated over the situation, especially because of how it affected the cheerleading team.
Mr Ratel said his daughter and the two other victims were initially friends with Ms Spone's daughter.
He believes the harassment was triggered after he and his wife told his daughter to stop hanging out with Ms Spone's daughter, due to concerns over the other girl's behaviour.
"I don't know what would push her to this point," Mr Ratel told the Inquirer.
"As a dad I was pretty upset about it. It's an image put out there of my daughter that is simply not true."
Ms Spone was released on the condition that she appear at a preliminary hearing on March 30.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Mum's 'sick fake nude plot' on cheerleaders