Ashley Madison blackmail threat to Auckland man

An Auckland man who used Ashley Madison briefly this year has been the target of a blackmail email.
CARL COURT/GETTY IMAGES

An Auckland man who used Ashley Madison briefly this year has been the target of a blackmail email.

An Auckland man is claiming blackmailers are demanding money from him under threat of releasing his leaked Ashley Madison account details to his "significant other."

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he received an email came from a sender calling themselves 'Team GrayFlay'.

It read: "Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of Ashley Madison and I now have your information."

As proof it listed some details including the residential address of the man.

It demanded the man pay approximately $450 US dollars in bitcoins - which equates to around $679 New Zealand - to "prevent me from finding and sharing this information with your significant other."

The sender gave the man seven days to send the money through and said they had access to any messages in the man's Ashley Madison account as well as his address, credit card, amount spent on the site and the date it was spent.

The email said "consider how expensive a divorce lawyer is."

The man said he was not worried because he is single and has since changed credit cards but is concerned about the implications for other users.

He said he signed up to the website out of curiosity this year.

"I was single, joined for three to four days and the site wasn't that interesting," he said.

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"Then I deleted it. It pretty much sucked as a dating website – it was hard to use, it cost money to send messages to people. Tinder would out-rate it ten to one."

An estimated 22,500 unique email addresses with '.nz' in them were amongst the massive dump of user details from cheating spouses website AshleyMadison.com released by hackers.

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The blackmailers said: "With this information your significant other would be able to verify with your credit card company that you were indeed involved with Ashley Madison and therefore cheating or looking to cheat."

The email also said if the man was already divorced to consider thinking about how this information may impact any ongoing court proceedings.

"If you are no longer in a committed relationship then think about how this will affect your social standing amongst family and friends."

The man who received the email said he he was not the target market for the blackmailer but "it's going to be interesting to see what happens as a result – with the CEOs and the customers, we might see suicides and a bunch of marriages falling over.

"What we got taught from Wiki Leaks is that none of our information is private anymore – whether with companies or the government – so my big fear is that everything is now transparent."

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards recommended that threats to blackmail with data from the Ashley Madison be referred on to police.

"If contact, profile or credit card information from Ashley Madison is being distributed by someone you know, you can make a complaint to this office," he said.

"We will be able to investigate, but that process will take some time."

He said there may be "some comfort" in that the use and dissemination of the hacked data in New Zealand might be in breach of the Privacy Act.

"This should hopefully stop the data from spreading much further here, and being used inappropriately."

The Commissioner also said that if anyone's presence on the list was made public on a radio or television publication they should complain to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

If it has been published in a newspaper or magazine or online you should complain to the Press Council, he said.

If you want further help from the Privacy Commissioner in regards to the data dump go here. 

 - Stuff

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