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Dating website hack led to divorces

The hack of personal customer details from the Canadian extramarital affairs site, Ashley Madison, led to a number of divorces as spouses have found out about their partner’s intended or actual infidelity.
Last summer hackers stole information belonging to millions of users, including names, addresses and credit card details. A second leak saw large amounts of company emails and other documents released.
Over the weeks that follwed, a growing number of people received letters through the post demanding money, with the threat of the blackmailer releasing information about their involvement with the site to their friends and family if they did not pay up. (This was likely to be the work of opportunist fraudsters, rather than by the original hackers.) In August 2015, Canadian police reported that two people who had been named in the data leak had taken their own lives.
The database of names and email accounts was initially available only on the darkweb, the hidden internet accessible only from the Tor browser. However, it was quickly uploaded onto a regular site, enabling anyone to search for email addresses that were registered on the site. This allowed not only blackmailers but also partners to check for evidence of infidelity.
Law firms saw a steady stream of calls and emails prompted by the Ashley Madison hack. In one case, a man lost his job because his account was linked to a work-issued device, as well as losing his wife. He also faced prison for burning down his garage in a related incident.
A total of 37 million accounts were leaked from the site. However, analysts have since suggested that a high proportion of these may have been fake, designed to boost the number of male subscribers.

Although this incident occured in Canada, it could serve as a warning to UK users of dating sites.

Have you been affected by a relationship breakdown? Thinking of divorce or separation? Talk to us. We are experienced family law specialists and can give you the expert advice you need.  Call 01302 320621 or email

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