Law enforcement agencies have found evidence of extortion attempts related to the hacking of AshleyMadison.com, a website that facilitates hook-ups between would-be adulterers.
Blackmail attempts have been made against people whose personal information may have been included among data released by the hackers last week, Toronto Police Acting Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans said at a news conference Monday. AshleyMadison’s parent company, Avid Life Media Inc., is based in Toronto.
There also have been two unconfirmed reports of suicides related to the data release, he said.
“This isn’t fun and games anymore, this is reality, it’s affecting all of us,” Evans said. “We’re talking about families, we’re talking about children.”
Hackers released information they say includes details of more than 36 million users of the site, which openly encourages adultery with its tagline, “Life is short, have an affair.” Evans confirmed the data includes names, home addresses, transaction records and partial credit card information.
Hundreds of government e-mail addresses from the U.S., U.K. and Canada were among those released. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said last week that the military is investigating. Toronto Police requested help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Ronald Marcell, a department attaché, said at the news conference.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation are also taking part in the investigation.
Avid Life Media is offering a C$500,000 ($378,000) award for information that helps identify the hackers, Evans said. He appealed to members of the hacking community for help and had a message for “Team Impact,” the name the hackers are using to identify themselves.
“I want to make it very clear to you: your actions are illegal,” Evans said. “This is your wake-up call.”