May 16, 2023

AI-Generated Fakes: Scammer Made Thousands From “Leaked” Frank Ocean Tracks

When a Discord user leaked unreleased Frank Ocean tracks on Discord, fans on the platform’s music forums clamored to grab hold of the tracks.

However, it has since turned out that most, if not all, of the tracks were AI-generated fakes, according Motherboard (part of VICE Media Group).

“Everyone started to believe it”

Frank Ocean fans have been yearning for fresh material from the elusive singer, whose last full album, “Blonde,” was released in 2016.

According to Motherboard a scammer who goes by the handle “mourningassasin” decided to commission a musician to create approximately nine fake tracks using a model that utilized high-quality vocal snippets of Frank Ocean’s voice. The scammer strategically posted a snippet of one of the fake tracks, and fans quickly fell for the ruse.

“Instantly, I noticed everyone started to believe it,” mourningassasin told Motherboard in an online chat. 

Read: “This Is The Final Straw”: Drake And Universal Join Calls For AI Music Clamp Down

Gamma, the owner of the Frank Ocean fan Discord, told Motherboard that mourningassasin offered them a number of songs for $3,000—$4,000 each: “A high price but not unheard of for Frank Ocean.”

Mourningassasin also encouraged users to take part in “group buys” to crowdsource the funds needed to afford the ‘leaked’ tracks, as is common on underground music forums. Mourningassasin claimed they made around CAD$13,000 (USD$9,600) from selling the fakes.

“Just about everything he has is fake”

Although the scammer claimed that the track “These Days” was a genuine Frank Ocean track, this assertion remains unverified.

“We determined just about everything he has is fake,” Gamma, the owner of a Discord server focused on collecting rare Frank Ocean recordings, wrote in a server-wide announcement earlier this month. 

Motherboard’s attempts to upload “The Line” to Soundcloud were repeatedly blocked due to copyright protections.

Eventually, the scammer was identified and banned from the Discord platform,. This incident has significantly damaged the credibility of the server and created a sense of distrust towards unverified sellers within the community.

As online music communities strive to maintain trust and credibility, it becomes crucial for fans to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of unreleased material.

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)