ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Here's an awkward situation. You're in Hawaii on vacation with your spouse, and you find out you have been exposed as part of an adultery website. Your email is in the Ashley Madison data that hackers leaked, but you never signed up for the site. This is the situation one man found himself in, and NPR's Aarti Shahani talked to him and his wife about what happened.
AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: Over the weekend, Casey Corcoran and his wife are in a hotel room overlooking the ocean.
CASEY CORCORAN: Margie's getting dressed, putting on her flower lei. I'm just reading a little bit of news before we're about to go out for this romantic dinner.
SHAHANI: It's about 6:30 p.m. He comes across an article about the Ashley Madison hack, and it says...
CORCORAN: If you're interested in finding out if your email somehow got on there, here are a couple of search engines.
SHAHANI: He's curious. He decides to put in this email, see if he wound up on the membership roster maybe through another site he's on, and...
CORCORAN: It pops up and says confirmed.
SHAHANI: As in, he's there. Corcoran is at a loss for words.
CORCORAN: I don't say anything, and I go to the second search engine. I think this has to be a mistake.
SHAHANI: And again, confirmed. At this point, he says, he calls out to his wife...
CORCORAN: Margie - I said, you're not going to believe this, but you know that Ashley Madison leak?
SHAHANI: Margie - Margie Skeer comes and sits on the couch right next to him.
MARGIE SKEER: My first thought was, what?
SHAHANI: Couples around the U.S. - around the world - have been having this moment since hackers leaked tens of millions of user profiles. And it did occur to Skeer that if a guy really did have an account...
SKEER: They might've said, oh, my goodness. Look. Somebody registered me.
SHAHANI: Plausible deniability - Ashley Madison does not require you to verify your email address. So you can say somebody else signed me up as a joke, maybe. And real users don't need email because they exchange messages through an internal chat service. But Skeer says if her husband ever cheated, he'd probably pick someone up at a bookstore, not at Ashley Madison.
SKEER: That would not be his style at all, and we have a very open and very good relationship, so I...
SHAHANI: By open, you don't mean open relationship?
SKEER: No, no, no. We have a strictly monogamous but very open communication.
SHAHANI: The couple wanted to know who used Corcoran's Gmail address, and they debated, should they log on?
CORCORAN: Well, I'm already associated with the site. It's not like somebody is going to leak my email again.
SHAHANI: They did a password reset to get into the account and went straight to the tabs with personal information. The profile was of a gentleman with a very similar name to Corcoran, which may be why he borrowed the email. But this guy lives in a different part of the country, and he's taller and heavier - 5 foot, 10 inches and 210lbs.
CORCORAN: And I said, boy, if that really was me, somebody would be really surprised when I showed up. So...
SHAHANI: The profile listed a hometown, an age, a username that looked like his last name with a year tagged on to the end of it. The couple had enough to turn to the white pages online, and in minutes, they got a guy who matched this profile picture perfect.
CORCORAN: Yeah, you can get his Facebook page.
SKEER: Myspace page.
CORCORAN: His Myspace page, Facebook page.
SKEER: Which is a picture of him...
CORCORAN: Giving the finger.
SKEER: Giving the finger.
SHAHANI: Corcoran says he feels violated. Professionally, he's an advocate for women's rights and has even been a relationship counselor. So many Ashley Madison search engines have been put online. He's positive people he knows have looked him up.
CORCORAN: Most people that actually found my name doing that weren't going to say anything to me. They weren't going to call me out on it.
SHAHANI: The couple wants to get a certified confession from the guy who used Corcoran's email - proof to back him up when he says it wasn't me. Aarti Shahani, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.