A YEAR on from one of the world’s most devastating cyber crimes, the victims have told how the scandal changed their lives.
Hackers last year released the personal details of 35 million members of adulterous dating site Ashley Madison.
Divorce, shame and even suicide was the result of Impact’s cyber attack. At least two deaths were linked to the leak, after police in Canada reported the victims had taken their own lives.
And now documentary makers in the UK have met the victims of the exposure, both site customers and their spurned partners, The Sun report.
At the time, millions of people were actively using Ashley Madison to embark on discreet affairs with a low risk of their partner or spouse finding out
Tamsin Smythe, from Virginia, was one of those affected by the leak.
She is unmarried, but has always shunned traditional relationships in favour of affairs and “quick hook-ups” — and says she met politicians, company CEOs and managers online.
Smythe told the Channel 4’s Sex, Lies, and Cyber Attacks: “Initially men are very hesitant to make the first move. When we start talking they want to find out, ‘Are you real? Do you really live in the United States?’
“Then once you start talking inevitably men have this sensational desire to send you d**k pictures. Sometimes it’s even the first picture — you don’t even know what their face looks like.”
Hackers gave Avid Media 30 days to close down sites Ashley Madison and Established Men, where rich men seek beautiful women, under the threat of releasing the information.
CEO Noel Biderman refused, and 35 million details were released. He has since stepped down from his post.
Smythe said of that fateful day: “I was in a meeting room and all of a sudden my phone is dancing across the table.
“I’m trying to concentrate and I’m looking over and I’m seeing the names of business associates, business clients, friends of mine, people I had met on Ashley Madison contacting me and my heart sank. I had met and talked to quite a few of the gentleman — their wives were decimated and hurt and they wanted to talk.”
The program also exposes the lengths site creators went to, to make more cash.
Male users had to buy credits to speak to female members, and 837 “fembots” were circling the site, writing to gullible men.
Exposed user Christopher Russell said: “They made it sound like this playland of people hooking up and there’s millions of women here and they’re all interested in you.
“I had contact with probably around 200 profiles and out of those I believe I spoke to one actual person.”
Back in 2012, an anonymous victim known as “Jim”, from Idaho, discovered his wife and mother of his five kids was using Ashley Madison — and had had six affairs. They are now divorced.
“I threw up. It’s stuff you can never un-know, never un-see. There was a video someone sent me and it was her having sex,” he said.
“I have kids. I did not want to raise them up with a broken home. I felt like it was my fault. I felt responsible.
“I just tried talking to her and explaining, ‘You know I love you. We have five kids, let’s not destroy this family’. It took a long time before I stopped getting nauseous. I had to physically withdraw from Ashley Madison until the hack. That was a good day.”