Woman creates 'deepfake' videos to harass rivals on daughter's cheerleading team

A Pennsylvania woman allegedly sent the coaches on her teenage daughter's cheerleading team digitally manipulated photos and videos that depicted her daughter's rivals naked, drinking, or smoking in an effort to get them kicked off the squad.

Authorities say that the woman, Raffaela Spone, is facing three counts of cyber harassment of a child and three counts of harassment.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Spone not only sent the messages to the girls' coaches but also sent the girls anonymous harassing text messages, urging them to kill themselves.

Spone's daughter was a member of a traveling cheerleading squad based in Doylestown, and authorities say there was no indication that her high school-age daughter had any idea what her mother was doing.

Police said they were contacted by one of the teenager's parents last summer about the harassing messages and fake photos, and then two more families came forward with a similar story.

The harassing texts and faked media appeared to depict the girl naked, drinking, and smoking a vape, while other victims were sent photos of themselves in bikinis with accompanying text saying they were "drinking at the shore."

Police analyzed the videos and determined they were "deepfakes," digitally altered but realistic-looking images created by mapping the girls' social media photos onto other images.

Authorities then traced the text messages back to Spone's IP address and cell phone.

George Ratel, whose daughter Spone allegedly victimized, told the Philly Inquirer "he believes the harassment was triggered after he and his wife told his daughter to stop hanging out with Spone’s daughter, due to concerns over the girl’s behavior."

"I don’t know what would push her to this point," Ratel said. "As a dad I was pretty upset about it. It’s an image put out there of my daughter that is simply not true."

Spone was released on the condition that she appear at a preliminary hearing on March 30.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!