Adultery website Ashley Madison is being investigated by the US FTC

The company behind the Ashley Madison website is trying to recover from last year's data breach

Ashley Madison encouraged its users to cheat on their partners. But did it also cheat its own customers?

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating the service, which suffered a devastating hack last year that exposed details of millions of customers who signed up in the hope of engaging in extramarital affairs.

Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison, told the New York Times Tuesday it doesn't know the focus of the inquiry. But the company said it's been sharing information with the the FTC since last August when the breach took place.

A hacking group calling itself Impact Team posted personal details of 37 million Ashley Madison users online, including names, credit card information, and in some cases their sexual fantasies.

The hackers also alleged that the website was a scam. To lure male users, they claimed, Ashley Madison deployed botsto make the site appear to have more female users than it really did.

"Chances are your man signed up on the world's biggest affair site but never had one. He just tried to," the hackers said at the time.

The breach caused an outcry among users and was even linked to suicides. Avid Life Media has been trying to recover ever since. On Tuesday, it announced a new CEO and president.

The company is “truly sorry for how people’s lives and relationships may have been affected,” CEO Rob Segal in a statement.

Avid Life Media said it underwent an audit and that its Ashley Madison property no longer uses fake female profiles. It says it discontinued the practice in North America in 2014 and internationally in 2015.

The company has been improving its cyber defenses and will introduce more secure and discrete payment methods. It's also working on a "total rebranding" with new features, though it didn't give details.

Despite the hack, the company claims that thousands of new users continue to join Ashley Madison every day.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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