VT TO GAIN FROM ASHLEY MADDISON SETTLEMENT

By VTWatchdog

MONTPELIER — Vermont is getting a cut of a $17.5 million settlement between multiple states and the owner of AshleyMadison.org, the extramarital affairs service exposed of fraud after hackers released private data on 36 million customers.

Attorney General William Sorrell has been at the forefront of an investigative effort into the security breach that occurred in July 2015. As announced on Wednesday, the Green Mountain State will receive an initial payout of $116,000 from the multimillion dollar settlement.

“The State Attorneys General, and Vermont in particular, have been in the vanguard of protecting consumers’ privacy online,” Sorrell said in a written statement. “There is not a different standard simply because a consumer adopts a particular lifestyle. Fraud is fraud and it is against the law.”

In a separate conference call with media, Sorrell estimated that about 16,000 Vermonters have used the site.

In 2015, cyber-criminals hacked into the AshleyMadison.com system and stole user information including emails, photos, bank account information, sexual affair preferences and more.

The breach also revealed that Ashley Madison created thousands of fake user profiles to lure real customers, and misled users about a $19 “full delete” option that failed to erase user data properly.

The Federal Trade Commission concluded that blackmail and extortion were commonplace as result. In addition, at least two suicides were attributed to the breach.

According to FTC Chair Edith Ramirez, who spoke on the teleconference, the leak transferred more than 9.7 gigabytes of information and affected 36 million users worldwide. She said it it was among the largest online privacy cases in the FTC’s history.

Lawmakers and the incoming governor’s administration will decide how to spend the settlement money, Sorrell said. He added that Vermont’s cut is larger than the amounts awarded to other states because his office took the lead role in the investigation, which spread to Canada, Australia, and more than 15 government agencies.

“Vermont is a small state, but we take enforcement of our consumer protection laws very seriously,” Sorrell said during the teleconference.

Initially, AshleyMadison.com owner ruby Corp. will pay $1,657,000. The rest of the $17.5 million is being suspended due to the company’s current inability to pay. The online service also must undergo independent monitoring and adhere to strict security standards.

“We thought to obtain a judgment that, in particular, reflected the amount that users had actually paid to Ashley Madison,” Ramirez said. “ … We do not think it would serve the public interest to put this company out of business.”

TEEN SEEKS SECRET HEARINGS IN SEX CASE

A St. Albans teen accused of taking advantage of five teen girls who attend BFA St. Albans and Missisquoi Valley Union High School is asking the judge in the case to move the hearing to Family court where the proceedings would be secret and closed to the public.

Friends and family walk with Aiden Pickener (head covered with sweatshirt) outside the courthouse on Tuesday after his court hearing.
Aiden Pickener walks with his head obscured by a sweatshirt to his vehicle flanked by friends and family at his side for support.

Continue reading “TEEN SEEKS SECRET HEARINGS IN SEX CASE”

WITNESS: MAN RAN OVER VICTIM’S HEAD

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Chad Ely, 28, of St. Albans turns around to say “I love you” to his family sitting behind him in Criminal Court in St. Albans on Monday.

The man who allegedly ran down his ex-wife and two bystanders early Sunday morning has been held without bail after his arraignment in Franklin County Criminal Court on Monday afternoon.

Chad Ely, 28, of St. Albans was charged with three counts of Second-Degree Attempted Murder.

Each of the second-degree murder charges could land Ely in prison for up to 20 years.

He is also being charged with First-Degree Domestic Assault and two counts of Assault with a deadly weapon. Continue reading “WITNESS: MAN RAN OVER VICTIM’S HEAD”

NEW DETAILS IN RICHFORD ARREST

Police have named the man that was arrested at a Richford home Sunday evening.

According to police, Lee Dumas, 32, of Richford is being accused of Aggravated Operation Without Owner’s Consent, Driving Under the Influence (5th offense), Operating After Suspension, Aggravated Disorderly Conduct, Retail Theft, and Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer with bodily fluids.

Continue reading “NEW DETAILS IN RICHFORD ARREST”