Police investigate explicit fake images of high school students generated by AI – NBC Chicago

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A sophomore at Richmond Burton High School in Illinois said what she discovered this week was disturbing, alarming and upsetting.

“I felt really nauseous and violated. It was not a good feeling,” said Stevie Hyder. “I actually went home right after that for the rest of the day. It was just really bad, and as soon as I got into the car, I just started crying.”

Police are now investigating after Hyder said someone took her prom picture online and altered the image into explicit content using artificial intelligence.

“We’ve been saying when we posted those photos, you know on Instagram or VSCO or wherever we posted them, never once did it cross our minds that we would be manipulated into this type of way,” she said.

The 15-year-old isn’t the only victim. Investigators told her mom the list of victims includes 30 students and three teachers at the school.

“A lot of them are afraid to talk about it,” said the victim’s mom Stephanie Essex. “I feel like the bully wins when you don’t talk about it, so I think it’s important for everyone to be vocal, talk about it and let people know.”

The fake naked photos were shared and circulated at school. A letter went out to parents on Monday about the AI generated images.

“I don’t feel technology is our friend in this particular situation,” said Essex. “I don’t see how this serves any purpose for any reasons or why we would have programs to have the ability to do this particular thing. It just doesn’t seem like there’s any sort of purpose for it in the long run for anybody, really, whether they’re adults or kids.”

NBC Chicago first reported on the dangers of the technology as part of our You and AI series. The FBI issued a warning last summer about criminals using AI to extort victims.

“A lot of times we are seeing that people are paying these fees so that these images aren’t put out there. It’s very embarrassing” said FBI Special Agent Siohban Johnson. “Children might feel like their life is over.”

Meanwhile, the school district said it’s working with investigators to see that the person responsible is held accountable.

“Honestly I think this needs to be charged as a sex crime,” said Essex.

Police couldn’t go into details about the case when asked, only telling NBC Chicago that detectives are investigating and working closely with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.

We learned the suspect is a student at the school. So far no one has been arrested and no charges have been filed.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Richmond Police Department at 815-678-4163 ext. 208.

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