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A booking site for customers of Japanese “love hotels” has been hacked, raising fears over follow-on identity fraud and blackmail attempts.

In a country known for its focus on convenience, love hotels are a popular feature in towns and cities, offering a place for amorous couples to bed down for a few hours or a whole night without needing to trek back to their tiny apartments.

In such establishments, privacy is of the utmost importance, with the check-in counter often designed so that guests can pay for a room without coming face-to-face with any hotel employees.

However, the compromise at Almex, which runs the popular HappyHotels[dot]jp site, threatens to unmask those guests.

In a notice, the firm said customer data including guest email addresses, handle name, birth date and gender, telephone number, log-ins, address and credit card information could all have been swiped by attackers.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and anxiety that may have caused our customers and other concerned parties. The service has been suspended because we are currently investigating the cause and taking measures,” it added.

“This password may have been leaked at this time, so if you use the same e-mail address and password as those of other companies ‘services, please change the password of other companies’ services as soon as possible.”

Given the sensitive nature of the website, and the fact that some users may have been visiting love hotels with someone other than their partner, there’s an obvious risk of online blackmail and extortion for guests who’ve been exposed.

According to recent stats, over a third (38%) of Japanese women claimed that their husband or boyfriend has cheated on them in the past, with the figure slightly lower (31%) for women that have cheated on their partners.

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