Breach, Data Security

Ashley Madison users threatened with extortion in letters

Since the Ashley Madison breach, some users of the infidelity service have received blackmail letters via the US postal system from extortionists threatening to blow their cover. 

An Ashley Madison member forwarded an extortion letter they received to Graham Cluley, award-winning security author. In the letter, the unknown extortionist asked for $2000 (£1400) worth of Bitcoin.

“Yes, I know about your secret, that you paid for services from a company that specialises in facilitating adultery. But what makes me a threat to you is that I have also spent several days getting to know about you, your family and others in your life. All you have to do in order to prevent me from using this information against you, is to pay me $2000,” said the extortionist in the letter.

Recipients are told that if they don't pay in a matter of 10 days, the extortionist will anonymously advise their family, friends and colleagues of their membership on the dating site. The recipient of this letter did not make the payment, and he suffered the consequences.

“I of course anonymously contacted his wife, and told her about [blank's] membership on Ashley Madison and told her how to confirm it for herself. But I didn't stop there. I also contacted [blank's] work colleagues. I also contacted his daughter. And his daughter's boyfriend. And I contacted several of his superiors, peers, and subordinates,” said the extortionist in the letter.

If a user receives a letter from an extortionist, Cluley's advice is to contact authorities as well as US Postal investigators. Responding to an extortionist may peg you as a lead to extort further money out of you in the future.

The Greater Sudbury Police Service in Canada has also recently advised on an email scam that targeted Ashley Madison users. The sender claimed to have personal data retrieved from leaked information on the infidelity website and threatened to reveal the victim's infidelity to friends, family and colleagues through Facebook unless a Bitcoin payment is made. 

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