Deepfakes, Cheerleading and Prison

A Pennsylvania Mom made Deepfake nudes of her daughter’s high school cheerleading rivals. She then sent them to the Coaches. So, after learning that some of the girls on the team were ignoring her daughter, Raffaela Inella doctored footage of them vaping and partying. It was when Raffaela Inella learned that her teenage daughter was falling out with her cheerleader friends, she opted for revenge. By creating a series of fake photos and videos to get the high school girls kicked off the team. However, she didn’t use the old ropey photoshop fakes we have seen in the past. She used Deepfakes. 

Firstly what are Deepfakes?

A deepfake is a video, photo, or audio recording that seems real but has been manipulated using artificial intelligence (AI).  The underlying technology can replace faces or manipulate facial expressions, synthesize faces, and synthesize speech. Imagine photoshopping or doctored pics…but way better and not just still images, video and voice. While, this was how good they were in 2018 when the tech was brand new…

This a clip that is definitely not Obama. Now that sounds really real because joran peel is voicing him. So it sounds 90 percent great. The video is ok at a glance but if you look closely you can see the fact it is fake

Fast forward a few years and voices can be synthesised and deep fake technology is way easier to use. There are whole YouTube channels that are dedicated to making deep fakes for fun. Like putting Nicholas cages face on everyone from lord of the rings. Putting Sylvester Stalone’s face on the terminator. If you want to check out a real good deepfaker. A guy called cntrl-shift-face on youtube makes wicked ones that look so real!

So yeah Deepfakes are cool but lets be honest! Tools like this are used most often to depict people saying or doing something they never said or did. So combine that with the fact that there are now apps like ‘Reface’ or ‘Avatarify’ out there that you can use to make Deepfakes on your phones means that it is super simple to put someones face on another body.

Cheerleading Revenge

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Inella’s daughter confided in her that she was having some social struggles. Namely with her teammates on the Victory Vipers traveling cheerleading team. Consequently, the 50-year-old mother decided to use “deepfake” technology. To forge images of those underage girls in the nude, vaping, and “drinking”.  She was smart to show vaping not smoking! Smoking is so old kids don’t do that! Then, she anonymously texted them to both the head coaches as a fake concerned parent!

Furthermore she also text the girls themselves. With additional messages urging the teenagers to kill themselves. So, one victim’s parents contacted them out of the concern that these forgeries could see their daughter booted from the team. After two more families came forward saying their daughters were also sent nude pictures of themselves. Which they allegedly never took, police began to search in earnest for the anonymous sender.

It was rather quickly determined that these files were Deepfakes. After confirming that the doctored photographs. Which were based on easily accessible photos from the victims’ social media profiles, authorities began tracing the mysterious phone number they were sent from. While it initially led them to a website that sold phone numbers to telemarketers, police simply followed this data to its original IP address.

So, this unique internet protocol address showed that the messages had been sent from a home in Chalfont, Pennsylvania. Registered to Raffaela Spone. With probable cause in hand, the police paid her a visit. Confiscated her smartphone. 8 months after this was first brought to the attention of the police. Raffaela Inella was arrested. At the time Inellas attorney claimed  she “absolutely denied” what she has been charged with.

Cheerleading response to Deepfakes

An official statement from the Victory Vipers (The Cheerleading Team) said

“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.”

Spokespeople for the Doylestown, Pennsylvania squad stated.

Nonetheless, George Ratel, the father of one of the girls victimized by Spone’s forgeries. Said he remains frustrated and saddened by how the squad has been affected.

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


Ratel believes the trouble began after he and his wife told their daughter not to socialize with Spone’s daughter.  According to Ratel, he and his wife were concerned over the teen’s behaviour. For her part, Inellas’s daughter has remained entirely oblivious to her mother’s actions. At least according to authorities. Ultimately, it appears that more information will come to light as Inellas heads to court. Perhaps most illuminating here is how easy and accessible it has become to doctor digital imagery. What used to require costly software. Is now done with a few taps of a finger and to unnervingly convincing results. Indeed, these forgeries are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg in terms of deepfake technology. The possibilities are truly endless. While the consequences of that will surely rear their heads more frequently as we forge into the future

(All That Interesting)