The Ashley Madison website was hacked which resulted in a large amount of user data being stolen. The database was then published online and resulted in blackmail threats being made against users whose information was taken.
- I’m being blackmailed. What should I do? The most important advice we can offer is do not pay the ransom demand or respond to the email threats. The database taken from the company contained millions of email addresses and this is being used by many different operators to send out template demands for payment.
- How have I been identified? Most email demands we’ve seen suggest those behind the threats have the ability to locate individual users based on their digital footprint. The scam emails normally suggest people will be identified through their Facebook profile – even if they don’t actually use the site – or another online presence with the threat being made that the blackmailers will contact friends or family members to ‘expose the shame’ of being listed in the Ashley Madison database.
- What can I do if I receive these emails? Ignore and delete any blackmail emails you receive – responding will only confirm that your email address listed in the hacked database is still being used and could result in further harassment. Do not pay any ransom demand. Consider changing the email address you used on the Ashley Madison website as the leaked data will continue to be used for various purposes.
Report a scam
Help if you have been scammed or think you are about to be scammed: Netsafe can’t open investigations or track scammers, but we can offer support and advice for people who have lost money in a scam, or think they are about to. This includes letting you know the steps you can take depending on the scam you’re in and giving you advice about how to stay safe in future. You can report a scam to www.netsafe.org.nz/report.
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