Information about how surveillance is conducted and what you can expect from the private investigators efforts.

Cali Private eye sees that patience yields success

MICHELLE MACHADO
Record Staff Writer
Published Friday, Sep 23, 2005

Private eye David Brey worked in law enforcement for 13 years before going into business for himself. He says that this is not a business for those short on patience.

STOCKTON CA — When David Brey became a licensed private investigator in April, his eyes were unclouded by the romanticized images of the nonpolice detective portrayed in literature and film.

After 13 years in law enforcement, Brey knew that most successful investigative work is produced through plodding perseverance.

But he also believed that in addition to putting one foot in front of the other, a successful gumshoe must know how to tap dance, creatively stepping around the roadblocks thrown up in the course of an investigation.

His home-based Stockton business, David Brey Investigations, provides background checks, domestic-dispute and worker’s-compensation investigations and surveillance services primarily in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties.

On Wednesday, Brey talked about his life and his work … in his own words:

Becoming his own boss
“I took a criminal-justice course at Delta and got into law enforcement from there.

“I was a reserve officer for local law enforcement for three years while I worked other jobs.

“My intention was to become a regular officer, but when I got picked up to get hired, they saw I was a diabetic. That was during the early 1980s, before the ADA, so I had to put that on the back burner.

“Years later, I graduated from Stanislaus State with a bachelor of arts in criminal justice and got hired with the county probation department.

“It was OK, but the caseload was horrendous. You have 300 to 500 people on your caseload, and you’re expected to keep track of all of them.

“The county had a narcotics task force, which used to be called CRACNET, where I got into investigations.

“I then applied to be a special agent with the state, where I worked for more than five years in the narcotics and gambling divisions.

“Gambling was too slow-paced, so I decided to become my own boss and do private investigating.

“I was in law enforcement for more than 13 years.”

Public vs. private
“I liked the excitement. They always say that 80 percent of police work is boring, but you’ve got that 20 percent that keeps you going.

“If you’re in investigations, doing surveillance, and you’re an impatient person, you’re not going to last long.

“You have to wait and wait.

“When you’re in law enforcement, you have seven or eight guys with you.

“Working by myself is a lot different. Even bathroom breaks are few and far between.

“A lot of people think that criminals are stupid. They are often very intelligent.

“They might not be book-smart, but street-smart.

“Some I’ve seen in court seem to know as much as their attorney.

“I always try to outthink and keep one step ahead of the person I’m going after.

“Private investigators can be armed. I’m not. With what I’m doing, there’s not a need for it.

“When you’re a cop, you can’t take off if something is happening.

“Now, if I think there’s a situation that’s going to be dangerous, I’ll just turn on my car ignition and take off.”

Background counts
“The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Security and Investigative Services regulates private investigators.

“They give you credit for having a bachelor’s degree and for investigative experience. For current or previous law enforcement officers, you need two years of investigative experience.

“Without investigative experience, it would be difficult to do surveillance or a public-records search.

“If a person wants to get started in this type of work, it helps to know people.

“I’ve been fortunate to know a few attorneys here in town and in Sacramento who shoot me some work, sometimes in worker’s-compensation fraud cases.”

Taking care of business
“Right now I’m working for a person in the city who thinks that a neighbor is running a business out of their residence.

“I asked if she had filed a complaint, but she said she’d rather get the goods on the person first. I can find out if the person has a license to conduct business from their home and can document their activities.

“I think it’s better to go in armed than with just a story.

Suspicious minds
“I also get a lot of calls where one spouse is cheating on the other or a situation with a boyfriend and girlfriend.

“I tell them that if their intuition is telling them that something isn’t right, then their assumption is probably correct.

“But they want to believe that they’re just imagining it, and they want proof that either something or nothing is going on.

“I always tell them that if I find out there is cheating, I don’t want them to cause the other person harm. I tell them it’s not worth it.

“I am wary of people who are trying to find an ex-girlfriend or an ex-wife because of the possibility of stalking. I ask questions.

“I think I’m a good judge of character, being in law enforcement for as long as I was. There’s always the possibility, though, that someone will give all the answers you want to hear.

“I try to stay away from becoming emotionally involved, but I do like to see people benefit from what I do.”

Contact reporter Michelle Machado at 209 943-8547 or mmachado@recordnet.com

Intricacies of gathering evidence on unfaithful spouse

Suspicious and jealous spouses sometimes set spies on their other halves. Margaret Oganda tells us the methods these private investigators apply to bust the wayward.

A distraught Mrs Kamau — not her real name — drove down Uhuru Highway, Nairobi, recalling romantic moments she once shared with her husband of 20 years.

Despite the good times, she had a compelling gut feeling. Probably intuition, or even telltale signs that pushed her on this mission, convinced that her spouse was unfaithful.

After trying to downplay her instincts and deny her suspicions, she concluded that she needed to know the truth. Which is what took her to the second floor of College House on Koinange Street, Nairobi, to private investigators.

Her life was filled with almost everything most Kenyans only dream about. A beautiful home in one of Nairobi’s plush residential areas, several expensive cars at her disposal, children at costly private schools, and regular get-togethers with friends in exclusive health clubs and saunas.

Her flower business also brought in good returns; while her husband, among Kenya’s highest paid chief executive officers, gave her access to unlimited cash. But, something was missing.

He had lost interest in her sexually, came home late, and left town too often on business. Although she suspected infidelity, she tried to keep closer tabs on his movements but could not get anything concrete.

When confronted, he would laugh it off, blaming the current restructuring of his company, but she believed that if he was cheating on her, she had the right to know, which made her seek the services of Spectrum Network, a private eye.

After stating her case and agreeing on down payment, the firm started to trail Kamau’s movements.

He was a member of a private members-only club, which he frequented. The team had to mount a round-the-clock surveillance, and develop some acquaintances with the neighbourhood to nail him. They also had several vehicles follow him from a safe distance, and soon they established that he had a mistress, whom he often met in a hotel outside Nairobi. They often left in separate cars.

The team gathered tangible evidence, comprising personal digital pictures, audiotapes, video shots and even fingerprints.

Mr Samjim Mwanyasi, the managing director of Spectrum Network who masterminded the investigation said, “It was a costly undertaking, because arranging to set up cameras in a hotel room can be expensive.”

Investigations

The covert operations of a private investigator are often shrouded in mystery and secrecy. These are people who often work long irregular hours and the work is often dangerous. Many registered companies in Nairobi carry out myriad duties, ranging from general investigations, cases of fraud and debt collections, to crime scene examinations, finger print comparison, insurance accessing, document examination and accident investigations among others. Others also do background checks, and locate missing persons.

Mwanyasi, who is also the secretary general of the National Association of Kenya Investigators, says that over 300 companies have registered with them. The yellow page in the 2005 Nairobi postal directory lists 49 companies in Nairobi alone, but there are others upcountry.

When it comes to marriage investigations, most firms and investigators broached the subject with caution, many preferring to remain tight-lipped and clandestine.

Some disclosed that they do not deal with these cases regularly. Mwangangi notes, “Marriage investigation is time-consuming, and can also be risky. So it is not common with us because in many cases the cost will be deterring. Samuel K Ndenga of Band Investigators, based in Braidwood House, Tom Mboya Street, also says, “This kind of work normally would be extensive, and privacy needs to be observed. It may involve people who are moving in elite circles, and frequenting expensive joints, and therefore would require more resources.”

One investigator who is part of a firm based in a Nairobi estate, said that they get up to eight cases a month, and interestingly, men are the most frequent callers, requesting that their wives be investigated.

Asking to remain anonymous, he said “Marriage investigation is sensitive, and apart from the actual cases we handle, we get many inquiries about our services every week.”

Another detective based in the city centre said: “Our company rarely carries out marriage investigations, and we try to avoid them. This is because in the past we noted that a number of people ask us to start the investigations, and later decide not to follow through to the end.”

He said that it was common for many to be curious, about the movements of their spouse, but they are often not prepared to face the outcome.

Why a private eye?

Infidelity, adultery, cheating, being unfaithful, having an affair can be painful and devastating. Yet many people say they would rather know the truth to get on with their lives.

Mrs Kamau’s case is one of the most commonplace, a suspicious husband or wife seeking to prove or disprove infidelity.

But, according to some investigators, a person may need to search out evidence of adultery within marriage to establish grounds for a divorce. Mwanyasi explains, “Many times, if you want the divorce to be effected, you must have grounds, and get tangible evidence to take to a court of law.”

Another private-eye agreed, “More and more Kenyans are turning to us to collect evidence for legal reasons. Initially, they used to call the police but they have lost faith in them, and want our services.”

Others seek the service of investigators for sheer knowledge, because they may have fleeting suspicions, like in one case, a man who was about to get married, wanted to be sure that his fiancÈ did not have another boyfriend. In another case an Asian woman was suspicious that her husband had an African girlfriend.

Counselling or investigations

Many investigators share the opinion that many people only need counselling, which sometimes assists them to resolve their problems before they resort to investigations.

A Scotland Yard trained investigator based in Nairobi, has also acquired qualifications as a professional counsellor and he strongly advocates counselling for all parties interested before they resort to investigators.

“We do not want to break up homes. When people come to us and tell us their problems, we try to help them to find a way out first,” said the private eye who has been in the business for 30 years.

Ndenga says that he first talks to the person at length. “Sometimes I have had cases where a woman is feeling let down. And I encourage them to seek another way before resorting to investigations.”

Mwanyesi had the same sentiments. “Our interest is not to ruin marriages, and some people may find out that their suspicions are baseless, and that they were paranoid.”

Operations

The first step is to receive formal instructions from the client, in the form of a contract. Being a private affair, they may desist from mentioning names.

After a down payment of at least 50 per cent, the client says what they need, and how detailed they want the investigation. They may want photographs, taped conversations, video clips, receipts, emails, and fingerprints.

After that is clear, the client has to submit a brief on the person to be investigated, and a background. This allows investigation from the known to the unknown following a well-constructed surveillance.

Most of the work of marriage PI’s involves intelligence or gathering of information, using many means to verify facts.

They use interviews, research and review of documents. The tools of trade range from those as simple as a notebook and pen, to the various types of state-of–the-art long-range and hidden video cameras. Hidden, body worn cameras are a must and are standard equipment, and high-tech surveillance equipment. They operate with mini-cameras, which may include digital zoom, and one as small as a matchbox or a pen-sized camera.

Surveillance

When the team of investigators has established a plan of action, surveillance begins on a most discreet level and the method decided upon depends on the nature of the situation. A team is set up to trail the individual, comprising two to four or more people depending on the subject’s movements.

Often a minimum of two cars is used. They often may need to set up a person as a decoy, who is someone whose presence around the person will not raise suspicions. If the person frequents a certain hotel or bar, they may have to set up someone who actually works there, or even get someone to work there.

In one case, a firm had a woman who suspected that her husband was having an affair with their house-help.

“We asked her to hire a woman investigator to work for her part-time as a maid, and she would monitor the movements of the suspect. Within a week, she had gathered concrete proof that her suspicions were real,” said one investigator.

“We have to be observant, as we gather evidence which is visual and audio. This is because, “we cannot make mistakes which will lead to false accusations.”

Time span and cost

Although each case is different, investigations mostly are done roughly within three weeks, up to two months or more. Most firms said that investigations are priced according to the individual case and scope. But generally, a simple case may go for Sh30,000 but the more elaborate ones go up to Sh200,000 or more.

Investigations not the answer

Sex, money, communication breakdown, and in-laws are leading causes of friction in marriage, and could even lead to divorce.

“I would discourage marriage investigation at all costs,” says Margaret N. Mbuthi, a marriage and family counselor who has worked with the Kenya Institute of Professional Counseling, as a trainer and family counsellor.

Now working with the Sterling Performance Africa and Counselling Centre, she says: “I believe that couples should first look for other ways to resolve their differences.”

Mbuthi warns that marriage investigation can be dangerous, because it is a form of spying, and a person may get more than they can handle.

“The findings of such an exercise may be devastating. What if you suspect your spouse has one mistress, only to find there are two or even more?” she asked.

 

 

If you have suspicious of an unfaithful spouse, we’re here to help! Contact us today!

Get A Room

The Fort Worth Police Department is caught on tape with its captain down.

By PABLO LASTRA and JEFF PRINCE

At first glance, nothing seemed unusual on April 13 at Vandergriff Park in Arlington, just a typical weekday afternoon. Parents played with children, people walked dogs, squirrels looked for nuts, and a breeze blew through the trees. Oh, and some people were thinking about hot sex.

In a parking lot, a couple inside a black Crown Victoria kissed, unaware that their movements were being captured on video. The silent spectator was a Dallas private detective, who jotted notes about what the male and female “suspects” appeared to be doing and in what positions.

About 45 minutes later, a Hispanic woman stepped from the car wearing a white top and black miniskirt, and drove away in a Toyota Tercel. Her rendezvous partner, a tall black man, left in the Crown Victoria. The license plate number was easily tracked: It was a Fort Worth city vehicle driven by Fort Worth Police Capt. Duane Paul.

Private detective Danny Gomez, a former Dallas police officer, was videotaping the romantic encounter at the request of the woman’s husband, Rafael Gutierrez, who suspected she was having an affair. Gomez works for the tv show Cheaters, where philandering spouses are captured on camera and later confronted. It’s a tawdry show — and a popular one. Entering its fifth season this fall, the show regularly draws several million viewers in 200 U.S. markets and around the world. The episode with Paul is expected to air locally on Nov. 5.

Gomez had witnessed similar encounters between the couple in previous weeks. As his investigation unfolded, it became clear that Maria Gutierrez was having an affair, and the man she was seeing wasn’t an ordinary citizen — he was one of the few high-ranking African-American officials in Fort Worth Police Department history, an 18-year veteran who repeatedly has found himself in the middle of messy sexual troubles, from which he always seems to emerge unscathed. His horndog ways are much discussed among police troops, who question how he keeps climbing the career ladder despite rocky female relationships that spill over into the workplace.

Fort Worth Police Officer Malinda Spence accused Paul and another police officer of sexually harassing her in the late 1990s, resulting in a lawsuit against the city. The city — meaning taxpayers — paid dearly for that one: $200,000, according to court records.

The city, however, said paying the money wasn’t an admission of wrong-doing. The lawsuit appears to be Paul’s only alleged sexual indiscretion that has been documented in the public record, but other situations are much gossiped about among the ranks. Several police officers spoke off the record about other incidents, involving work-hour trysts, women who complained that Paul was harassing them, and a girlfriend who stormed into a police station and accused him of trying to seduce her daughter. The officers spoke sarcastically about Paul’s custom of speaking to new police academy recruits about ethics — including one such speech given just a few days prior to his being caught on tape by Cheaters.

The only result thus far of Paul’s actions, the officers complain, is that he has been transferred to a different unit or promoted. Some say Paul’s close relationships with former Police Chief Thomas Windham and current Chief Ralph Mendoza have meant that his transgressions have gone away quietly and his penalties have been minimal. Others say his indiscretions have hurt him and that he might have been a deputy chief by now.

Bottom line: “If Paul wasn’t protected,” one officer said, “he’d be fired already.”

An internal police investigation is under way into Gutierrez’ complaint that Paul used a city car, on what appears to have been city time, to carry out his romances, said police spokesman Lt. Dean Sullivan. However, a lack of documentation regarding Paul’s prior activities, combined with strict civil service rules governing treatment of police officers, could limit the severity of the punishment. On the other hand, a “lack of moral character” clause in those rules could give Mendoza the authority to take stronger action. And Paul’s fellow officers are beginning to wonder whether the Cheaters episode might be his much-watched Waterloo.

Paul joined the Fort Worth police in 1987 after a lackluster scholastic and professional career. He attended Louisiana State University from 1984 to 1986 but earned miserable marks — including, perhaps prophetically, an F in a Marriage and Family Relations class. He dropped out after a half-dozen semesters, with a cumulative grade point average of 1.4, according to college transcripts in his police personnel file.

He went to work as a security guard but was fired for leaving his post without a supervisor’s permission. But then he joined the police department and seemed to have found his niche.

His commendation-packed personnel file shows a record of stellar accomplishments. His work evaluations are practically spotless, and Paul ascended through the ranks from officer to detective to sergeant to lieutenant and finally to captain with glowing praise. There’s only one note of admonishment in Paul’s public file from 1995, but details were unavailable.

After becoming a lieutenant in 2000, Paul served as department spokesman. His name was seen many times in the credits for the tv show Cops, which thanked him for his assistance during segments produced in Fort Worth.

Paul’s personnel file — or at least the portion released to Fort Worth Weekly — does not reveal his rumored sexual liaisons while on duty or the squabbles with girlfriends that flowed over into the workplace, but co-workers remember them well. They recall that a dentist who had been seeing Paul came in to complain to Internal Affairs that he was harassing her while on duty and in his city-issued car. Several police officers described “domestics” that occurred inside police substations, such as when a girlfriend arrived yelling and cursing, accusing Paul of making a pass at her 19-year-old daughter. “The mom raked his ass over the coals,” said an officer who worked with Paul at the time.

Paul was married in 1987, the same year he joined the department, but divorced five years later.

In 2000, Officer Malinda Spence, a nine-year police veteran, sued the city for sexual harassment. Spence stated in an affidavit that, having worked in the vice unit for three years, she was “far from hypersensitive to sexual commentary and actions.” She alleged that in 1997, her supervisor, then-Sgt. Duane Paul, repeatedly asked her if she wanted to “go for drinks in Dallas” after work. Paul even contacted her on the police radio while she was on patrol and asked to meet her when “most of the time there was no work-related reason for the meetings,” she said. The affidavit also mentioned that Paul spent an unusual amount of time on location at her calls. Spence testified she was uncomfortable with the situation and told Paul that there couldn’t be a romantic relationship between the two because she was married.

After that, Spence said Paul “began to hyper-scrutinize her work,” writing her up for “milking a call” when she responded to a traffic accident and waited for investigators to arrive. Another time, Paul disciplined Spence for leaving work five minutes early after finishing her lunch break, which coincided with the end of her shift. Spence told a supervisor that she had “no doubt that she was being treated this way because she shunned his affections.” After filing a sexual harassment complaint against Paul, Spence was transferred to a different unit. Still, Paul continued to retaliate, she said. On one occasion when Paul’s unit was under a heavy call load, she responded to a call in his district. Paul stated over the police radio that Spence was “not allowed in his district under any circumstances.” She testified that she was “humiliated” by that response.

Another officer was also named in the lawsuit. Spence accused Officer R.R. Nichols of kissing her without her consent after an arrest. Spence had borrowed Nichols’ handcuffs. Once they had booked the suspect, Spence said, Nichols approached her from behind and kissed her, saying that he was “charging her for the handcuffs.”

Spence, whose husband also worked in the department, complained to supervisors about Nichols and Paul. The complaints were dismissed. Instead, she came under investigation by Internal Affairs for allegedly filing false complaints of sexual harassment on Paul and Nichols, and the Internal Affairs officials recommended that she be indefinitely suspended — fired, for all practical purposes. A deputy chief reviewed the report but decided to suspend Spence for five days without pay. “The preponderance of the evidence … indicates that Spence was wrong in at least part of her allegation,” Spence’s captain wrote in his recommendation to the deputy chief. “Being wrong is not always the same as being untruthful.”

Still, Spence said in her affidavit that it became obvious to her that her reputation in the department now preceded her: She said a male officer called her a bitch, and other officers failed to come to her assistance on potentially dangerous calls, including a gang fight, because they thought she was a troublemaker.

The department and the city contended that Spence had been disciplined for good cause and that her allegations were unfounded. Yet the city settled the case in October 2002 without taking it to trial. The city declined to release performance evaluations of Paul from 2001, when the lawsuit was in court, but no reason for this was given. There is no record of any disciplinary action against Paul in the time frame of Spence’s accusations. Spence left the department three months after settling her lawsuit and has been an officer in Colleyville since April 2004.

Since then, other officers said, various other complaints against Paul regarding his involvement with women while on duty have been investigated by IA, but none led to any punishment that showed up in his record.

After he came under investigation in connection with the Cheaters controversy, Paul was transferred from his East Side command and into Criminal Investigations — a desk job. “Paul wasn’t happy about it because it took away his freedom,” one officer said. “The chief had to do something that looked like he was getting to the bottom of things. It’s not uncommon for him to hand down discipline that’s not really discipline.”

Paul later took an extended medical leave but has since returned to duty. He had previously declined to talk to the news media about the Cheaters footage when articles first appeared. When contacted by the Weekly on Tuesday, Paul asked what the story would cover. Told that it would include his career, the internal investigation, Spence’s lawsuit, and allegations by other officers about his domestic troubles spilling over into police stations, Paul declined comment.

Chief Mendoza did not return calls from the Weekly seeking comment. Police Lt. Dean Sullivan said an internal administrative investigation into Paul is continuing. “After the pertinent facts, details, and witnesses are interviewed, the case will be assembled and presented for a chain of command review,” he said. “The chief of police will receive the case and make a decision based on those facts. Any other elaboration or release of information on this matter would be inappropriate until the case disposition and chief’s recommendation are presented to the city of Fort Worth Civil Service Commission.”

Paul’s co-workers are unwilling to discuss the situation on the record. As a division captain, Paul is among a handful of top administrators, and few subordinates want to cross him, especially since he has long been viewed as the Teflon man — nothing ever sticks to him. But many were willing to speak off the record.

“He probably would have been the next deputy chief,” a police officer said. “But with this one, there is no way. The city council is yelling for his head. That puts Mendoza in a bad light.”

A parade of unfaithful spouses caught in the act and then confronted while cameras roll makes Cheaters, locally produced and shot, similar to The Jerry Springer Show but without the “and so we learned” moment at the end — unless the lesson is that cheating is bad. It’s the kind of show where the host gets stabbed in the stomach by an angry cheater and the cameras follow the bloody confrontation all the way to the ambulance as the credits roll. Creator and executive producer Bobby Goldstein has a habit of talking about his show in grand terms, going so far as to compare it to art. And who would know art better than a guy who hangs a portrait of himself in the lobby of the Cheaters office, appearing as the image of a Vegas-era Elvis, complete with pompadour and muttonchops?

But Danny Gomez takes his job seriously. As detective for the show, it’s his duty to trail suspected cheaters and videotape their trysts. As jobs go, it can be tedious. Much of the time it involves following people doing everyday stuff. But the job intensifies tenfold when a couple is caught in flagrante.

Gutierrez approached Gomez in March, after he and his wife had argued and she left the house, taking their son with her and later filing an assault charge against her husband. The argument had started when Gutierrez accused her of having a lover — and now he wanted Gomez to find out if he was right. Gomez, who works independently in addition to working for Cheaters, reassured the jealous husband that he would find out if something was going on behind his back. Gutierrez paid Gomez $2,000 on March 29.

It didn’t take the detective long to gather evidence. The day after being hired, Gomez followed Maria Gutierrez to a central Arlington park. The detective videotaped her getting into the parked black Crown Victoria with an “unknown black male.” Gomez’ report began, “Detective can observe some physical movement and contact in the vehicle.” Thirty minutes later, the report says, “Detective Gomez can only see one head at this time.”

The video shows Paul lying back on the seat. For most of the video, Maria Gutierrez is not visible. After an hour and a half, Maria emerged from the vehicle.

“There was kissing and hugging,” Gomez said. Beyond that, it was hard to tell exactly what went on.

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Suspicious Spouses Turn Sleuths

Technology is the kiss of death for illicit romance. In this era of camera phones, e-mail, text messaging and bugging devices, are we having the final fling, asks Prem Paul Ninan.

These are troubled times for unfaithful couples. Living in an age where technology has taken control of every part of the lives of people, relationships too have come to be defined by it. However, individuals across the globe who have flirted with technology in an attempt to cheat their better halves (always better when being cheated by the other, and who, these days, don’t always have to be married to one) have discovered soon enough that it is becoming increasingly difficult to cheat technology. True, technology has made it a lot easier for many to have relationships with people other than their spouses or partners, and to be quite discreet about it too. But sooner or later, very often, the same technology that helped one maintain a clandestine relationship for a while turns into the very evidence that brings about the downfall of the affair. Like a carnivore turning on its captors!

Commonly used media

Take mobile phones and the internet for instance – probably the most widely used media used by unfaithful partners for illicit affairs. The relative permanence of data stored by the use of software, is the basis for suspicious spouses-turned-sleuths to turn the heat on their partners. People use software because it gives them a sense of privacy and a feeling that they may actually be able to pull off something (no pun intended).

Consider the mobile phone. The benefits of text messaging, for instance, are many. There are many instances in which a person, while talking to his partner on the mobile phone, receives a message from someone he might not have ever met before, but with whom he has been carrying on a distance affair. The person is able to view the message and even dash off a quick salacious reply to his or her lover, only to return to the beloved’s call, without the unsuspecting partner even realising anything might have transpired.

Once the affair is on in full flow, however, it’s hard to keep your partner from being suspicious. There was a case in which a man carelessly left his mobile phone in his car and to his misfortune, his girlfriend saw a message coming in from his lover. She even went through a deleted items’ folder he did not know existed, and extracted more incriminating messages.

While most lovers are undoubtedly cautious in deleting ‘private’ messages, there is no telling when they might slip up. Ashwin Mohan, a wellness consultant, says that a friend of his who was in a dual relationship, once inadvertently sent a message intended for his lover, to his intended instead. He had hell to pay after that. Pradiksha Oommen, a third year BA student, says her friend once left her mobile phone with her boyfriend, so she could visit the loo. At that point, a message came in from her boyfriend’s male friend with whom she had been communicating for some time. Not bothering to confirm the nature of their friendship, the jealous boyfriend furiously broke off the affair.

The camera phone

Then, you also have today many mobile phones coming with built-in cameras and recording devices. These can be switched on quite casually without the unsuspecting unfaithful even knowing a thing. How one goes about this is one’s own affair, but there’s no denying that once recorded, it is quite an incriminating piece of evidence. You also have small digital voice recorders that can virtually be hidden in the hand. Atin Gupta, a marketing executive, says that one of his friends, who once got suspicious, got a girlfriend of his girlfriend to record a telephonic conversation she once had with her lover. With this evidence in hand, he confronted his one-time girlfriend, who, after an initial denial, finally gave in.

Detective agencies

Private detective agencies commonly use such recording devices to track the activities of cheating individuals, in infidelity cases. However, Puneet Kumar, executive director of the Globe Detective Agency in Bangalore, says that his agency primarily relies on physical surveillance in such cases. “Most affairs of an illicit nature are generally physical, involving sex, and only sometimes get emotional. In order to keep track of a person’s activities, the agent’s physical presence is critical, and no device can replace this.” The detective service usually sends two agents, who carry basic cameras, on the track of the suspected cheater.

The agents prepare detailed reports of the victim’s movements and take photos only if there is absolutely no risk involved. Bugging devices can only be planted if the affair is going on in one’s own house, in which case the spouse is made to plant the device. “Otherwise, there is no telling where the affair may be taking place. It could be anywhere – hotels, cars, the workplace.”

Come now to the internet, which is also extensively used by unfaithfuls. While chat rooms have allowed illicit affairs to mushroom manifold, through the hidden identity it provides people, there are dozens of spyware programmes being developed that allow people to sneak view the suspected cyber relationships of their partners. Software programmes like Spector, developed by Spectorsoft in the US, are able to record such activities in detail. The programme operates like a quick-clicking camera, taking pictures every few seconds of whatever appears on the screen. The pictures can be played back in a slide-show fashion, like a jerky 20’s film. Prashanth Ninan, former manager, IT infrastructure at Altivo Information Technologies Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, says that there are even key-logging software programmes, that record every single key typed, including the spaces! This means, that with a little bit of effort, even an amateur can hack into the e-mail accounts of his or her partner. And what makes these softwares so attractive is that they are generally not very expensive and can therefore be sneaked into the home computer quite easily.

Credit card bills

But it’s not all about software either. There have been so many small technological advancements that have allowed couples to spy on each other fairly easily. For instance, credit card bills provide suspecting individuals ample fodder, especially with unusual gifts, restaurants, travel or unspecified charges. Unexplained bank statements, detailed phone bills containing data on unusually long calls made to certain unknown numbers, even the receipts that are billed from shopping centres, regarding unusual purchases made, can be recovered by a prowling cuckold on his partner’s trail. For some, the snooping around can become almost an obsession, as one such individual in the US candidly admitted, after spying on his wife’s cyber indulgences.

And if you think that such snooping around is confined abroad, you’re quite mistaken. Puneet says that his agency gets about 15 to 20 cases of infidelity a month, in Bangalore. A majority of the complainants are men, he says. But is it morally wrong to spy on one’s partner, using technological aids? Prashanth definitely thinks so. “It is a despicable thing to do, and anyone who does so is not worth being in a relationship,” he says. “Most people who do so are not married, but are usually in live-in affairs and are not willing to commit anyway.” Atin, who is going to be married in December, feels the same. So does Deepa Priyadarshini, who is into corporate communications. Both feel that trust should be the basis of any relationship, and that misgivings about any extra affair could always be handled at the personal level.

Whatever may be the view, it is clear that technology has made snooping a lot easier, and affairs a lot more challenging!

FIDELITY CHECK

Signs that your partner may be cheating on you:

Sudden increase in time away from home

Decreased sexual interest

He or she is often distracted and day dreaming

He or she is often unavailable at work

He or she attends more work functions alone

Cell phone calls are not returned in timely fashion

He or she leaves house or goes to other rooms to talk on the

telephone

He or she uses the computer alone and secretly

He or she asks about your schedule more often than usual

Mileage on car is high when only short distance errands are run

Clothes smell of perfume, massage oil residue and sex

Clothes contain makeup or lipstick smudges

He or she gets the laundry done independently

Viagra usage increases

Winter Spousal Surveillance

Some folks in the northern part of our country who are considering having us conduct spousal surveillance during the winter face some challenges that your southern counterparts do not. Bad weather can hinder surveillance in several ways, limited sight, less traffic on the roads, less parking places do to snow and the fact that people are outside and in public less than in warmer weather locations are just some of the potential problems that we address. Do not give up hope. Although these are real issues to be addressed, they do not prevent us from getting clients video of what their spouse is really doing. It just requires a bit more planning and preparation on our part. Contact us today and be sure to ask about how weather will impact what we will be doing for you.

Winter Spousal Surveillance

Officials close down China’s first female detective agency

AFP , BEIJING
Sunday, Jan 09, 2005,Page 5

China’s first all-female detective agency has been closed following allegations it broke the law and overstepped the scope of its powers, an official at the center said yesterday.
The Women’s Rights Protection Investigation Center was accused of “violating regulators procedures,” an advisor at the center surnamed Zhou said.

“The local government said that the center was not in compliance with the law, so we are now in cooperation with the local government,” Zhou said.

People had also complained to the local government about the center’s efforts to catch cheating husbands, a local newspaper said. There have also been claims that it “intruded on marriage privacy” and charged excessive rates.

Based in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the center provided counselling to victims of domestic violence and failed marriages as well as helping women collect evidence against their philandering spouses.

It was open for less than a year and in November won approval to set up a similar outfit in Shanghai.

Zhou said that the center was only engaged in providing consultation and marriage counselling for its customers and was never involved in any investigations.

“There are just a few irregularities,” Zhou said.

If the complaints are proven to be true, “then the center will have broken laws by infringing on citizens’ privacy,” an official with the local government was quoted as saying by Tianfu Morning Post.

“For such an offense, a company could be fined as much as 100,000 yuan (US$12,000),” the unnamed official said.

Despite a very murky legal status private investigators have thrived in China, and more that 1,000 small private-eye outfits have sprouted around the country in the past three years, according to unofficial statistics.

Many of the 25 female detectives working at the center suffered personal pain in relationships and the agency soon proved its effectiveness at sleuthing, even putting one man behind bars.

“They believed they were doing something good for society and therefore neglected the registration procedures,” a staff member said.

China’s marriage law allows a party seeking divorce monetary compensation if there is enough evidence of infidelity or other wrong such as abuse, but such evidence is often difficult to collect.