Police: Ashley Madison hack might have led to suicides; reward offered for info on hackers

Ashley Madison's Korean web site is shown on a computer screen in Seoul, South Korea. Avid Life Media Inc., the parent company of Ashley Madison, a matchmaking website for cheating spouses, said it was hacked and that the personal information of some of its users was posted online. AP Photo

The company behind adultery website Ashley Madison offered a reward of $500,000 in Canadian currency (about $380,000 U.S.) for information leading to the arrest of the hackers responsible for leaking the data of millions of users. The offer from Canada-based Avid Life Media was announced on Monday by the Toronto Police.

WKRG graphic
WKRG graphic

“Team Impact, I want to make it very clear to you,” said Toronto Police Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans during a press conference on Monday. “Your actions are illegal and we will not tolerate it.”

Employees of Avid Life Media first learned something was wrong when a message from the Impact Team appeared on some of their computer screens on July 12 accompanied by AC/DC’s song “Thunderstruck,” according to Evans. That led to an internal investigation, which failed to stop the compromised information from going public. As a result of the hack, Evans said, the Toronto Police had heard two “unconfirmed reports” of suicides as of Monday morning.

The department also said it had reports of Ashley Madison users getting blackmailed by criminals who demanded payment in bitcoin in exchange for their silence. Scammers have also infected computers with malware that claims to be able to locate and remove someone’s name from the database of Ashley Madison users, Evans said.

“In the very best interest of our customers, who have been affected by this malicious act, we are firmly committed to fully assisting these law enforcement and investigative authorities, without reserve,” Avid Life Media said in a statement. “Because of this active and ongoing investigation, there is little more we can provide at this time to the media and the public.”

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