A growing number of suicides have been linked to the hack of the infidelity website AshleyMadison.com. Anyone could sign up with a fake email address, putting innocent people at risk when that information was posted online.
Suicides Linked to AshleyMadison.com Hack
In August 2015, hackers exposed account details on 37 million users of the infidelity dating website AshleyMadison.com. The leak included names, email addresses, home addresses, and other personal information.
Soon afterward, Reuters reported that police in the United States and Canada were investigating two suicides suspected to be linked to the hack.
They did not confirm whether the suicides included a police captain in San Antonio whose email was one of three ending in @sanantonio.gov leaked by the hackers, according to Fox29. He died on August 20 from what was believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Security experts caution that Ashley Madison did not require verification of email addresses, which means anyone could sign up with a fake name and email. For example, Tony Blair and Barack Obama are among the pseudonyms exposed in the hack.
Brian Krebs, the security analyst who first reported the hack, said:
“There’s a very real chance that people are going to overreact. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw people taking their lives because of this.”
Lawsuits involving a wrongful death from suicide typically seek justice for emotional suffering of the decedent and their family members. Plaintiffs might also seek compensation for loss of companionship, income, funeral costs, and punitive damages.
Warning Signs of a Suicide
- Appearing distressed or sad most of the time
- Preoccupation with death
- Talking about feeling ashamed, trapped, hopeless, a burden on others, or worthless
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Sleeping too long or too little
- Mood swings or changes in personality
- Behavior that is reckless, impulsive, aggressive, violent, or manic
- And more
Hackers Say “Full Delete” Was a Complete Lie
Signing up for AshleyMadison.com was free, but deleting info cost $20. Even after users paid for the “Full Delete,” the website retained personally-identifiable user information.
Ashley Madison is already facing a $5 million class action lawsuit in Missouri for misrepresenting the “Full Delete.” It was also a major reason hackers went after Avid Life Media — “‘Full Delete’ netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” the hackers wrote in a statement accompanying the leak.
$578 Million Ashley Madison Class Action Filed in Canada
Avid Life Media (ALM), the highly-profitable parent company of Ashley Madison, is now facing a $578 million class action lawsuit in Canada. Members say they are “outraged that AshleyMadison.com failed to protect its users’ information” even after they “paid an additional fee for the website to remove all of their user data.”
Individuals who had their personal information stolen in the AshleyMadison.com hack have already come forward to file lawsutis against Avid Life Media (ALM). This type of security breach has a wide range of damages — loss of employment, divorce, extortion, suicide, and more.
Wired reports that 15,000 government email and military addresses were exposed, raising concerns about blackmail, extortion, and loss of employment. Adultery is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the Defense Department prohibits using military emails or computers for pornography, according to Military.com.