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Ashley Madison, Welcome to the Catfish Club - ThinkstockPhotos-186604300-c.jpg

Ashley Madison, Welcome to the Catfish Club

You have to give props to Canada. Long dismissed as our bland, pleasant neighbor to the north, Canada finally became entertaining, news-wise, in the past year thanks in large part to Rob Ford, Toronto’s crack-smoking when in a drunk-stupor, grandma-trampling train wreck of a mayor. But it also provided us with one of the most oddball lawsuits of the year, one that not only had the distinction of being intrinsically sexy, but also had one of those “Who do you root for in this case?” scenarios, with the answer being a resounding “A pox on both their houses.” And the woman filing it also hails from Toronto! So let’s hearken back one last time to 2013, and shake our heads in wonder.

The case involves the adultery and hook-up enabler site Ashley Madison, which heretofore might be rechristened Ashley Catfish, or Catfish Madison, “catfish” being the term for an entity that creates false identities online for the purpose of luring suckers into fake “romances.” The most well-known case of “catfishing” involved Manti Te’o, the football player who publicly waxed poetic about his girlfriend, before finding out that she was imaginary. I hate when that happens.

In this case, Doriana Silva, a Brazilian immigrant living in Toronto, was hired by Ashley Madison to create 1,000 “fake female profiles” for a new Portuguese version of the site for Brazilian users. Silva claims she was given three weeks to complete the assignment. The intent of the project, naturally, was to “catfish” married men into becoming dues-paying members. As her subsequent lawsuit states, the profiles “Do not belong to any genuine members of Ashley Madison — or any real human beings at all.”

Ashley Madison apparently thrives on the adage that “You’re never too old to believe in Santa Claus” – especially if “Santa” arrives in the guise of an online comely woman with voluptuous bosoms complaining about her inattentive husband.

Now, before we get to the point where this lawsuit veers off into the bizarre, let’s acknowledge that if Ms. Silva can really create 1,000 different, convincing, sexy come-hither profiles in three weeks, she is severely under-achieving, and my advice to her is forget about the lawsuit and embark upon your true vocational calling: writing romance novels filled with rippling muscles and Coke-bottle curves.

Until then, though, Silva is pursuing the $20 million lawsuit she filed against the company. On what grounds, you ask?

Why, compensation for carpal-tunnel syndrome, of course. Her job “required an enormous amount of keyboarding.” No doubt.

Twenty million dollars might seem like a lot of compensation for severely sore wrists, but Silva’s claim isn’t based on lost earnings, medical treatment, or any of the usual standards.

Silva claims that when she took the job, no one at Ashley Madison suggested there was anything “unlawful or improper” about making up phony profiles in order to hoodwink aspiring adulterers. She figured it was normal business practice, and if she HAD suspected there might be “ethical and legal issues arising in relation to online fraud,” she would have turned down the position. Definitely.

Nevertheless, Silva’s seeking $20 million because she’s seeking a share of the profits AM garnered from those 1,000 profiles.

Silva would’ve turned down the job, see, but since she didn’t know catfishing was, well, fishy, she completed the assignment and wants her fair share.

I did the math, and that “share” comes to $20,000 per profile, which, if it’s based on Ashley Madison’s figures, means there is big, big money in baiting horny married men with fictional women.

Which, amazingly, Ashley Madison actually admits to doing. Buried deep within in its Terms & Conditions, the company states the following:

“…we may create profiles that can interact with them.. You acknowledge and agree that some of the profiles posted on the Site that you may communicate with as a Guest may be fictitious. …The profiles we create are not intended to resemble or mimic any actual persons. We may create several different profiles that we attach to a given picture… As part of this feature, the profiles may offer, initiate or send winks, private keys, and virtual gifts.”

Once you get past all the bells and whistles (and lingerie), the case between an incredibly naive or conniving woman versus the company promoting adulterous relationships with non-existent women seems to come down to the rather mundane issue of whether Silva engaged in “work for hire.”

Still, as far as entertaining law cases go, I have just one thing to say:

Hail Canada!

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