Rashmika Madanna deepfake: How police tracked down the suspect tech expert from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

The creator of the controversial viral deepfake video of Rashmika Mandanna has been detained by the Delhi Police.

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The Delhi Police arrested the main culprit behind the controversial deepfake video of Bollywood actress Rashmika Mandanna that went viral on social media last year. The mastermind, identified as Eemani Naveen, was an engineer who allegedly created the video to boost followers on his Instagram account.

The realistic but fake video, which featured Rashmika Mandanna's face superimposed onto footage of British-Indian influencer Zara Patel, sparked widespread discussion about the misuse of technology. It prompted outrage from celebrities concerned about the potential for damaging misinformation.

During interrogation, Naveen gave police insight into the methods used to create such cybercrime.

Accused reveals motivations

According to police sources, Naveen is a native of Pedanandipadu village in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district. He admitted to making the deepfake to increase followers on one of the Rashmika Mandanna fan pages he operated.

Naveen, a devoted fan of the actress, managed social media fan pages for three high-profile celebrities. To quickly expand the follower count of the Rashmika Mandanna page, he created and posted the fake but convincing video on 13 October 2023.

Who is Eemani Naveen?

Naveen has a BTech degree in Electronics and Communication and obtained digital marketing certification from Google Garage in 2019. He subsequently developed a strong interest in digital media, completing courses in website development, Photoshop, video editing and search engine optimisation.

Returning to his village in March 2023, Naveen began offering services like Photoshop, Instagram promotion, YouTube editing and search engine optimisation from home.

Case background

The case emerged after a complaint alleged a deepfake Rashmika Mandanna video was circulating on social media platforms. Initial investigation found the original footage was posted by a British Indian woman on Instagram in October 2023. The deepfake of the celebrity was then created and distributed.

In response to the uproar, Delhi Police registered a case under Section 465 and 469 of the Indian Penal Code for forgery and reputation damage. Additionally, Sections 66C (identity theft) and 66E (privacy violation) of the Information Technology Act 2000 were applied.

Investigation and Arrest

After the complaint, the IFSO cybercrime unit examined over 500 social media accounts linked to the deepfake. Forensic analysis of the videos led to interrogation of several online account holders nationwide.

Through extensive forensic analysis and questioning, IFSO traced the Instagram account source to Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Following Naveen's arrest and transport to Delhi, he confessed to the crime under interrogation.