Mom Accused of Sending Deepfakes to Force Daughter’s Rivals Off Cheerleading Squad

Cheerleading
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A Pennsylvania mother is facing charges of cyber harassment of a child after she allegedly sent out doctored photos and videos her daughter’s teen rivals on the school cheerleading team to get them kicked off the squad.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Bucks County District Attorney’s office charged Raffaela Spone, 50, with misdemeanor cyber harassment for allegedly sending the doctored images and videos of the teens to make them look like they were drinking, smoking, and completely naked to her daughter’s teammates and coaches.

These doctored images and videos are also known as “deepfakes,” which Spone allegedly sent from a fake number in 2020.

According to the Inquirer, she also allegedly sent text messages telling her daughter’s teammates to commit suicide.

Prosecutors say the police were able to trace the number to a website that sells phone numbers to telemarketers. Then, they were reportedly able to trace it to an IP address used in Spone’s residence, which enabled authorities to uncover evidence on her phone.

Authorities arrested Spone on March 4, the New York Post reported.
Spone is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on March 30, according Penn Live.
The coaches of the cheerleading team, Mark McTague and Kelly Cramer of Victory Vipers, told ABC News they were cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation.

“Victory Vipers has always promoted a family environment, and we are sorry for all individuals involved. We have very well-established policies, and a very strict anti-bullying policy in our program,” McTague and Cramer told ABC News.

McTague and Cramer added that they conducted their own internal investigation and found that the incident took place outside the gym. There was also no evidence suggesting Spone’s daughter was responsible for any alleged wrongdoing.

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