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Canada Privacy Security The Courts

Extortionists Begin Targeting AshleyMadison Users, Demand Bitcoin 286

tsu doh nimh writes: It was bound to happen: Brian Krebs reports that extortionists have begun emailing people whose information is included in the leaked Ashleymadison.com user database, threatening to find and contact the target's spouse and alert them if the recipient fails to cough up 1 Bitcoin. Krebs interviews one guy who got such a demand, a user who admits to having had an affair after meeting a woman on the site and who is now worried about the fallout, which he said could endanger his happily married life with his wife and kids. Perhaps inevitable: two Canadian law firms have filed a class action lawsuit against the company, seeking more than half a billion dollars in damages.
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Extortionists Begin Targeting AshleyMadison Users, Demand Bitcoin

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  • Happily married? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2015 @09:47PM (#50367373)

    Seems to be at odds with having an affair.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      How so? Is this not simply a higher-order screwing?
      • Oh no! It's much more... It's a torrid tale of deceit and denial! ...And of a bunch of gossipy Slashdotters who come out to lecture the world in a wondrous cacophony of 4 million Aristotles and Freuds.

    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday August 21, 2015 @09:51PM (#50367395) Homepage Journal

      He's happy to continue to be married to someone he doesn't respect while fucking around on them.

      • Re:Happily married? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:03PM (#50367447) Homepage

        "He's happy to continue to be married to someone he doesn't respect while fucking around on them."

        I'm happy to eat various healthy foods. It is also tempting to eat an Ice Cream Sundae from time to time. Happily Married doesn't equate to "immune to temptation". Claiming he doesn't respect his wife assumes he doesn't have guilt over eating the Sundae. You seem to have missed that it was an isolated incident in this case rather than a pattern.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Did he tell his wife what he did? Or did he continue to hide it from her knowing that it was something that could ruin their marriage? Something he swore he would never do?

          • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:21PM (#50367545) Homepage
            Who cares? Is it any of your business?
            • Who cares? Is it any of your business?

              Nope, it's not our business. But when someone claims to be "happily married" but also clearly chooses to violate the terms of the marriage agreement for his own pleasure, clearly he isn't as "happily married" as he thinks... and if this cheating was something part of his "happy marriage," then why does his wife not know, as a party to that agreement? Doesn't she get a vote about whether they are "happily married," and can't she only evaluate that if she knows whether the other party has actually been fait

        • Claiming he doesn't respect his wife assumes he doesn't have guilt over eating the Sundae,

          So if he suffers guilt, he's exonerated from the consequences of his shameful behaviour then?

          If "til death do us part" doesn't suit then basic Human decency suggests that one shouldn't lie to one's partner by getting married in the first place.

          • "So if he suffers guilt, he's exonerated from the consequences of his shameful behaviour then?"

            Show me where I said that.

            • Show me where I said that.

              Apologies, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth but that is what I took as the thrust of your post.

              I'm now genuinely unsure what you meant by the sentence I quoted and replied to. Unless I am further mistaken, how does experiencing guilt over his behaviour imply that he does have respect for his wife?

              From where I sit his guilt appears meaningless as he obviously went out and dipped his wick anyway, which suggests a fundamental lack of respect for his wife in the first place.

              • I'll go on record saying that I haver never cheated on anyone. That being said, reality is more complicated than so many people here imply. In reality, what is lacking is not respect for the wife, but rather respect for self. Maybe he respects his wife, and maybe he doesn't. One cannot determine if he does or does not respect his wife based on the currently available information. It is however clear that he does not respect himself.
                • That being said, reality is more complicated than so many people here imply.

                  I'll be first to admit I tend to simplify some issues, yes. Reading further you seem rather a lot more informed than myself on psychology of peer bonding so I'll accept the admonishment in good faith.

                  One cannot determine if he does or does not respect his wife based on the currently available information.

                  Fair enough. That said, I bet I can guess his wife's opinion on the matter!

                • I'll go on record saying that I have never cheated on anyone. That being said, reality is more complicated than so many people here imply.

                  either you cheated or you didn't. FYI online affairs of the heart IS cheating. online webcaming and showing body parts IS cheating. And yes Viewing porn while married is cheating, Anything your wife is unaware of involving another women is cheating. Funny how people make excuses for what they do to make it ok to themselves.
                  • Which part of "I'll go on record saying that I have never cheated on anyone. " are you having trouble understanding?

                    "And yes Viewing porn while married is cheating"

                    Oh, never mind. I didn't realize you were mentally challenged. Good luck in the Special Olympics!

        • Re:Happily married? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:47PM (#50367695)

          From the article:

          Mac ... says he doesn’t regret the affair he had via AshleyMadison; his only regret is not finding a way to keep his home address out of his records on the site.

          Apparently, no guilt at all. He's only worried that he might be caught.

        • While this is mostly right, we're now seeing people sueing the ice cream vendor.

        • by anmre ( 2956771 )

          Reality check: you can hunt for new sex partners or you can have a best friend for life. You can't have both, which is why it's called cheating rather than "indulging", and why it's done in secret.

      • Re:Happily married? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:46PM (#50367681) Homepage Journal

        He's happy to continue to be married to someone he doesn't respect while fucking around on them.

        Who is to say that he doesn't respect her? If he is happily married I can only assume that he does respect her. However, every male spouse I have ever talked to has desired more sex from his mate than she was willing to give. The unfairness is that not only do wives not give husbands the sex that they want, but they also hold husbands to not going out and getting it elsewhere.

        • Re:Happily married? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday August 22, 2015 @07:40AM (#50369195) Homepage Journal

          Who is to say that he doesn't respect her? If he is happily married I can only assume that he does respect her.

          If he's happily married, then he doesn't need to have sex outside the agreed-upon parameters of that marriage. He obviously felt like he did need to, so he's obviously not happily married. QED. If he had only arranged an open marriage to begin with, he'd be happy; assuming that he'd be happy with his wife fucking other people. Presumably he wouldn't be, because his vows obviously included monogamy — otherwise there would be no danger to his marriage if his infidelity were found out. In fact, it would not be infidelity.

          The unfairness is that not only do wives not give husbands the sex that they want, but they also hold husbands to not going out and getting it elsewhere.

          If you don't like the terms, don't sign the contract. Nobody is forcing you.

        • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Saturday August 22, 2015 @08:55AM (#50369465)

          Who is to say that he doesn't respect her? If he is happily married I can only assume that he does respect her.

          For most people, "respect" does not include lying. If he respected his wife, he would have asked for an open marriage before breaking his marriage agreement. If she refused and he still needed to screw around to be "happy," then his next option is divorce. Marriage is an agreement between two parties -- a person cannot be "happily married" while violating the agreement without the other's knowledge.

          However, every male spouse I have ever talked to has desired more sex from his mate than she was willing to give.

          Have you ever talked to a person over the age of 30 or who has been married for more than 5 or 10 years? Sex may be great, but people who are married long-term tend to often be concerned about other benefits from a durable, caring relationship.

          The unfairness is that not only do wives not give husbands the sex that they want, but they also hold husbands to not going out and getting it elsewhere.

          Unfairness? No -- what's unfair is if you agree to something in exchange for a person's affection and then you secretly break that agreement and lie to that person while continuing to benefit from that affection.

          You don't want to be married? Fine -- don't get married. You get married, and you find it doesn't make you happy (because you can't get enough sex or whatever)? Fine. You have a legal option since no-fault divorce was created.

          But what we're talking about here is a person who wants to benefit from his marriage and all the good things it brings him while lying to the people who give those good things to him. If he doesn't like the terms, get out of the marriage. But claiming that he's "happily married" while deliberately lying and cheating on those terms is just nonsensical.

    • Re:Happily married? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:01PM (#50367443) Homepage Journal

      Happily married? Seems to be at odds with having an affair.

      Nope, check the research of Dr. Willard Harley. An unhappy marriage is not the defining feature leading to an affair, and a number of happily married people do fall into affairs. The defining feature is lack of boundaries around the opposite sex.

      • The defining feature is lack of boundaries around the opposite sex.

        So, if only someone had fenced them in...

      • That might be true for some affairs, but "fall into" does not describe signing up at a site with the tagline "Life is short. Have an affair."

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @11:09PM (#50367799)

        An unhappy marriage is not the defining feature leading to an affair, and a number of happily married people do fall into affairs.

        This is pointless rationalization. What you're talking about are people who delude themselves into thinking they're "happily married" but also don't like to live by the rules of marriage... They may be "happy" (in some one-sided "relationship" as they like to define it themselves), but they actually aren't happily married (which, you know, requires both parties to understand and consent to such actions).

        You see, the rules are actually quite simple here. Don't "fall into affairs" (as you so nicely put it) by accidentally getting out your genitals and putting them in someone not your spouse.

        Sorry, but this is NOT something one just "falls into" -- "Oops, I'm sorry my penis just accidentally fell into there." That's teenage boy logic. Grow up. I don't care how some psychologist may rationalize it.

        A hug that goes a little too far? Sure. A woman gives you a drunken kiss at a party? Sure. These can happen, and you stop it and say "sorry -- I'm married, and that makes me happy." That's what people who are actually "happy" to be "married" do.

        You sign up for a website, make plans, and stick your genitals in someone else? Sorry -- no, you didn't just "fall into" that. And then you keep it a secret from your wife when it does happen? Nope -- you're definitely not "happily married," as least not when you took a whole bunch of deliberate actions to cheat on the normal principle of marriage.

    • Happily married?

      Honestly, this was my first question while reading the summary (read the article? Bah!). It's possible that this person availed themselves of AshleyMadison sometime in the past and has since improved his relationship with his spouse; however, it sounds more like rationalization, as such improvement presumably precluded 'fessing up to his indiscretion.

      Unfortunately(?), he relied on a third party to assist with the hook-up. Remember: Two people can keep a secret, so long as one of them is dead.

    • Seems to be at odds with having an affair.

      People are good at compartmentalizing, I wouldn't be shocked if a few people are able to be happily married but still cheat every chance they get.

      As for this story paying off a blackmailer only works when they're the only one with the info, but in this case the information is available to anyone who looks. Even if you pay off one extortionist another one will simply pop up and make the same demand, and you still run the risk of a curious friend finding and leaking the info or some digital vigilante tracking

    • Marriage is about way more than just sex.

    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:33PM (#50367615) Journal

      That is not the point.

      It is still wrong to extort people and demand ransoms between private affairs that is really none of our business.

    • Seems to be (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:54PM (#50367721)

      Seems to be at odds with having an affair.

      "Seems to be" is one key phrase here. People can sleep around and still love an SO, or can do that when they are unhappy and later they become happy. Turns out people are more complicated than "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife." Who knew?

    • You can have an affair and be happily married. If you have a hot girlfriend on the side you're probably more likely to be happy.
    • All those gay folks getting married were clearly the reason 20% of the straight adults in the US were on that site, plus some number of gay people (not identified how many of them were married to people of the opposite sex, vs. single or "it's complicated".) (Though some non-trivial fraction of the customers claimed to be single, and just looking to hook up.)

      As an old straight married guy, who was not one of AM's customers, I'd like to remind the Republicans that lots of their folks were, and maybe they wer

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        20% of (straight) US adults were on that site?!?
        Reports says it was 85% male, so as much as 34% of all (straight) US male adults were there?

        Why bother mailing people from the dump, just mail random US males, and there's close to 1-in-3 chance that they're "guilty"!

  • About that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @09:55PM (#50367407)

    a user who admits to having had an affair after meeting a woman on the site and who is now worried about the fallout, which he said could endanger his happily married life with his wife and kids.

    I think you accomplished that all on your own, sir.

    P.S. With so much personal info floating around the Internet, what's to stop scammers from creating fake profiles and going after anybody?

    • "I think you accomplished that all on your own, sir."

      You are confusing the precipitating event with blame. The man has to accept responsibility and blame for committing the wrong, but that fact remains that the blackmail is the (potential) precipitating event that results in the actual fallout. He put himself in the situation that allows him to be vulnerable. That in no way excuses the blackmailer from exploiting the vulnerability.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        All he simply needs to do is go to his wife and tell the truth. Problem solved.

        • Maybe. Maybe not. The wife may understand, or the wife may cry rape and have him arrested. He is probably in a better position to know which is likely than you, wouldn't you agree?
      • "I think you accomplished that all on your own, sir."

        You are confusing the precipitating event with blame.

        And I think you're confusing what GP was talking about.

        The man has to accept responsibility and blame for committing the wrong, but that fact remains that the blackmail is the (potential) precipitating event that results in the actual fallout. He put himself in the situation that allows him to be vulnerable.

        While this may all be true, what GP quoted from TFS was that the man was worried about: "the fallout, which he said could endanger his happily married life with his wife and kids."

        Let's be clear here -- this statement is deluded. A man who has a "happily married life" does not lie to his spouse and participate in affairs without her knowledge. It's as simple as that. GP is absolutely correct to say that the man is primarily responsible for "endange

        • Re:About that (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Tom ( 822 ) on Saturday August 22, 2015 @03:27AM (#50368639) Homepage Journal

          A man who has a "happily married life" does not lie to his spouse and participate in affairs without her knowledge. It's as simple as that.

          Nothing in humans is simple. You do not know the details of this persons life. Maybe you are right and he is deluded. Maybe a choice quote doesn't tell a persons life story.

          Whatever is between his wife and him is between them and not your business nor mine. Maybe his marriage was not always happy. Maybe they just restored it from completely broken. Sure he should have been honest with her, but do you know all the circumstances so you can judge, or are you taking all your information from a three-liner in an online paper?

          Should his wife and kids suffer because of his actions? Probably not -- but they'd probably be better off in the long run knowing what kind of scumbag they're trusting

          Right. Because human beings are so simple that we can classify them with binary parameters.

          I'll let you know where I come from. Many years ago, I was betrayed. I hit her in the face and left, the only time in my life I've ever hit a woman. But I'm also smart enough to ask myself why it happened and how much of it was my fault (pro hint: If you answer 0% you are always wrong). I understand that people are humans and nobody is the villain of their own life story.

          I don't judge this guy without knowing a lot more about what was going on in his life. Maybe he's a scumbag, maybe he's just weak, maybe I could even understand him. The point is: I don't know and I find it disgusting how we judge other people from three lines of text.

        • Re:About that (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Saturday August 22, 2015 @07:52AM (#50369227) Homepage

          To play devil's advocate for a moment, he could have had the affair some time ago and since fixed his marriage. He's still guilty of something, but sometimes the best option in a bad situation is secrecy. I don't know enough about the circumstances, in just saying that since you can't really delete your profile it's like that a number of people signed up and then changed their minds and fixed their marriages. Could be hard to prove that in divorce court though.

  • This is good news for Bitcoin...
    • I gotta admit, I liked the "high volume/low margin" aspect of this.

      Rather than picking one person and threatening to ruin their lives unless they pay a large amount of money, you hit everybody and see if they'll pay a small amount. I might think twice about $10,000 to keep this quiet, but I'd probably be fine with "Yeah, here's a dollar, don't e-mail my wife." Obviously, I'd be making plans to tell her anyway, because they'll certainly be back asking for more...

      I'd be curious to see how this works out for

  • Serves em right! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by p51d007 ( 656414 )
    Marriage, is a contract between two people. Suppose to be a sacred contract, but, like everything else in "modern" life, subject to change. I say the cheating b*stard gets what he deserves!
  • ... it's the stupidity of using an email that's not a decoy.

    Sure, a person can be tracked and traced via credit card number and address, but most people don't have the raw data or a database to put it and certainly no skill level regarding same.

    But a lady puts her husband's email address into a web site and gets a hit [cnn.com]?

    She and her husband had been having marital issues lately, and she figured she'd plug his personal email address into a search tool.

    It was a match, and she immediately called him. Here's how she remembers the conversation:

    "What do you know about this website, Ashley Madison?" she asked.

  • What are they paying for? For them to remove the information from the Interwebs?
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      They're paying for Mr Anonymous on the Internetz to not proactively try and contact their less-internet-savvy spouse.
      The information can't be removed -- which also means the target cheater could potentially be hit up with this racket over and over again by every person doing it.

      The only way to really prevent being bilked for 1 BTC x Everyone is simply to confess the affair to begin with to the spouse.

  • And who says bitcoin is worthless? Its clearly better than credit cards or cash in this case.
  • Did users of this site have to pay to be listed on it? How easy was it for someone who just doesn't like you to put your name and address on there? Was "ashleying" people a thing, like swatting?

  • Why are extortionist's victims falling for this? The information is OUT there. :Lots of people have copies now. If you are dumb enough to pay off one extortionist, so what, there will be five or twenty more lined up also wanting money.

    If your info is in there and going to cause you trouble, oh well. Paying extortion on top of that is just dumb.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday August 22, 2015 @12:59AM (#50368237) Homepage Journal

    I have no sympathy for their members getting "extorted" for being lying, cheating partners in a marriage. They deserve the shitstorm coming their way.

  • I see that the extortionists use of bitcoins is what may kill the currency and force the world to traceable transactions even harder.

  • The lawfirms are maybe even the biggest bastards in this game, sueing the company but not the hackers who actually put the data on the internet.. You really believe their claim about them having hacked the servers due to the company not actually deleting the data (which ofcourse is a different matter)... Uhh the only way the hackers knew this was AFTER they already hacked the server...

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