I'm cynically amused to find that Ashley Madison ("Life's too short. Have an affair!") was conning its male customers into spending untold millions of dollars in the hope of finding willing female partners who mostly didn't exist, except in the shape of fake electronic profiles. Gizmodo reports:
When hacker group Impact Team released the Ashley Madison data, they asserted that “thousands” of the women’s profiles were fake. Later, this number got blown up in news stories that asserted “90-95%” of them were fake, though nobody put forth any evidence for such an enormous number. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it to find out how many actual women were using Ashley Madison, and who they were.
What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.
Those millions of Ashley Madison men were paying to hook up with women who appeared to have created profiles and then simply disappeared. Were they cobbled together by bots and bored admins, or just user debris? Whatever the answer, the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile. Actually, scratch that. As I’ll explain below, there’s a good chance that about 12,000 of the profiles out of millions belonged to actual, real women who were active users of Ashley Madison.
When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.
There's more at the link.
I could almost (but don't really) feel sorry for the duped men involved. They should have seen this coming from a mile off. Any Web site that takes your money and promises sexual fulfillment in exchange is basically a rip-off. After all, what does it have to offer except electrons? In order to get you to part with your hard-earned cash, it tries to disguise those electrons in the form of shapely would-be partners, or hot and sweaty on-screen antics, or heavy breathing and passionate sounds . . . but all of them reach you as electrons. None of them are real.
I'm not surprised that the operators of the Ashley Madison 'service' made up so many fake female profiles. I sincerely hope they'll face criminal trial for fraud - quite apart from the mushrooming civil lawsuits being filed around the world by men who've just found out that they were being taken for a ride (and not of the sexual variety, at that). Perhaps now the latter will realize that they need to get a life instead of a computer . . . but I won't hold my breath waiting for that.