A data scientist has uncovered what he says is proof that Ashley Madison created tens of thousands of fake accounts to dupe members into paying for its services, in a scheme that would have almost doubled the website's revenue.
According to statistics seen by Daily Mail Online, 40,000 profiles were set up on the affair site using just six email addresses owned by the website's operators on two separate days.
It follows claims in previous reports that the extra-marital dating network tried to hide around 100,000 of these so-called 'engager' profiles – sometimes referred to as Ashley Angels - from users, so they believed they were talking to real people.
If true, this means the real number of 'available' women was drastically reduced, while the website's monthly revenue was almost doubled by the 'engagers', as members have to pay to read their online messages....
Jeremy Bullock, the chief data scientist at a UK-based technology firm, said he was suspicious of Ashley Madison’s recruitment methods, so searched through the data released by hackers last month looking for anomalies.
He found that on April 10, 2012, 122,766 ‘men’ and 11,923 ‘women’ signed up to the website from an IP address that traced back to Avid Life Media - Ashley Madison’s parent company.
On February 2, 2013, a further 100,092 'women’ also signed up.
Looking closely at the data, he found only six email addresses had been used to generate a total of around 40,000 'fake' women. One of these was host@almlabs – another IP address owned by Avid Life Media.
He told Daily Mail Online: ‘Looking at the IP addresses used by these emails, the majority were from localhost.
‘The next largest were from IP address 188.8.131.52 – which has a host name of tor.office.avidlifemedia.com.'
He added: ‘I believe that this data shows that despite Ashley Madison’s protestations to the contrary, member generation was going on at a industrial scale and that there is a clear trail of evidence leading back to the company.’
Although Bullock says he found 40,000 'bots', other media reports suggest the number could be closer to 100,000.
As a result of the supposed scheme, according to Gizmodo, around 80 per cent of new members were sent messages by 'engagers' - fake profiles - when they signed up. Rest of article.
Here come the lawsuits.