Ashley Madison: Traumatic impacts documented one year on

Hackers released the private details of 35 million members on the adulterous dating website. Photo / Getty
Hackers released the private details of 35 million members on the adulterous dating website. Photo / Getty

A year on from one of the world's most extreme cyber crimes, victims have spoken out about how the Ashley Madison scandal changed their lives.

Hackers releasing the private details of 35 million members on the adulterous dating website led to broken homes, humiliation and, in at least two confirmed cases, suicide.

Now, documentary makers have met with victims of the leaks, both site customers and their partners, to reveal the repercussions, The Sun reports.

A woman from Virginia, Tamsin Smythe, features on the UK's Channel 4 programme Sex, Lies, and Cyber Attacks and explains how she used the site to engage with politicians, CEOs and managers online.

"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?'" she says in the footage.

"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."

According to Smythe, the day the details were released, she was in a meeting room and noticed her phone had begun "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."

Back in 2012, an anonymous victim known as "Jim" learnt that his wife and the mother of his five children had had six affairs as a member of Ashley Madison.

Jim was sent a video of his wife having sex.

"I threw up. It's stuff you can never un-know, never un-see."

But he says he felt responsible and didn't want his children growing up in a broken home.

He told his wife: "'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."

The couple are now divorced.

The programme also exposes the lengths the site's creators went to to boost revenue.

Almost 1,000 "fembots" were created to lure gullible men, who had to buy credits to speak to women.

Exposed user Christopher Russell described the site as seeming 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."

Before the documents were leaked, Avid Media was given 30 days to close down the site.

Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman refused and 35 million details were released.

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