While many of us will do our own snooping to catch a cheating spouse, I believe that there are many cases where it is necessary to hire a professional.
by Sarah P.
This post arrives on the heels of an interview with private detective to the stars, Thomas Martin of Martin Investigative Services. Mr. Martin, a former federal investigator, has been a private investigator for four decades and his work has been featured in media outlets such as the New York Times, Fox News, and ABC News. Mr. Martin just released his second book in June of 2017 and it is called Seeing Life Through Private Eyes.
I had the pleasure of reading his book last month. Chapters two and three of Mr. Martin’s book specifically address infidelity. Doug and I had a wonderful interview with Mr. Martin as part of the Affair Recovery Movement. You can listen to it below by pushing the play button, or you can download it and listen later by clicking this link. and then saving it to your computer.
Sometimes Hiring a Professional is Money Well-Spent to Catch a Cheating Spouse
We recently returned from a trip to the Big Island. We just purchased a place there with the intention of using it as my home base for future healing seminars for those who have been betrayed.
Stay tuned on that because I have secured the perfect and most beautiful poolside conference location for said (future) seminars. That’s right, you will get to sunbathe, swim, and have your drinks of choice at the conference site all while experiencing a seminar geared toward your healing.
Now, let’s back up because I have a story about how the pain of drama and infidelity can unfold any place and at any time. Last week, I was speaking to the managers who oversee the Hawaiian gated community in which we purchased our place. I was making my face known and was asking what the neighbors were like and if the place had fulltime residents, or if people were renting out their places to vacationers. They let me know things were very quiet and the community was filled with many retirees from the mainland. But, the managers warned me to keep an eye on a home that was about two doors away from mine. They said someone had to call the police on a Sunday afternoon because of a “domestic disturbance” between the woman who owns the place and her live-in boyfriend. They mentioned that the woman owned one of the stores in the upscale retail center nearby and that the boyfriend was a mooch of sorts. Other than that, they did not know why the police were called.
Well, low and behold, I got to see for myself that very evening. As I was outside standing next to my car unloading groceries, a car pulled up to the specified home and out jumped a woman and a man. The woman was screaming profanities at the top of her lungs and punching her boyfriend as hard as she could. Then she chased him around the car several times and started beating on the car while stringing together profanities that I had never heard of before.
I thought about intervening since I had intervened in another couple’s crisis (minus the hitting) at a store earlier that week. But, I reminded myself I was trying to get my own business set up and so I just listened. Finally, the man got ahold of the woman from behind and held her arms down the way people hold toddlers when disciplining them. And finally, she spoke a sentence that made sense: “You mean all of the f***ing sh** that went down last week was because of a f***ing female?! And you were f***ing her in my bed!?!!”
By that time, I had heard enough and went in the house. I knew that she would likely calm down and hopefully wise up by getting rid of the guy. I knew she was not in danger, so I did not need to intervene.
Fortunately, my intuition was correct. The next morning, I saw that the woman had wised up and noticed that he was outside along with his stuff. I was relieved the drama was gone for her and for everyone else in the normally quiet neighborhood. As I have said before, infidelity is not an event that correlates to race, religion, or even socio-economic level. No one is immune to the home-wrecker that goes by the name adultery.
And if you think about it, most of us betrayed are capable of such a display of anger—the same anger that had the woman on fire — if we have been gaslit by a cheating partner for months, only to find out there was another person. Apparently, the woman in this scenario was otherwise a very savvy business woman in her day-to-day life. But, she got taken off-guard by what I would imagine was a seasoned cheater.
Finding out about a partner’s infidelity is like watching your life flash before your eyes. All of that stuff that you thought was true about your life gets reprocessed in an instant as untrue. Suddenly, up becomes down and right becomes left. It is impossible to grasp onto anything at this moment. This type of experience causes a meltdown of nuclear proportions in even the most stable people.
While I never condone hitting for any reason, I cannot judge the woman for her reaction to both a heartbreaking and an abnormal scenario. What she believed she had with her boyfriend—monogamy—was destroyed in an instant when she realized he was sleeping with other women in her home while she was running her business.
It sure would have saved this poor woman time if she would have used available tools to figure out what her boyfriend was up to. Of course, like most of us, she was probably a trusting person. Because of her trusting nature, she would not have been able to predict infidelity would come and visit her peaceful life.
You can bet your bottom dollar that her boyfriend was using some, if not many forms of assistance and/or tools, to carry out his affair. I would bet money he had a burner (cheater ) phone.
The Case of the Cheater Phone
It was the summer of 1999. During a warm, summer morning, I was looking out the enormous glass windows of a conference room waiting for the marketing team to arrive. Our company backed to a green belt and I was watching a mother deer with her cautious fawn peek out from the woods. She was patiently teaching her fawn about the big, bad world out there full of cars, coyotes, and humans. The mother deer knew who could do the most damage: humans.
As I watched the mother deer cross the open meadow with her fawn, the marketing team arrived. This mix of men and women had been with the company much longer than I had. They were also much older. As a result, they had lived in the world much longer than I did. Like the mother deer, they were (unknowingly) there to impart a lesson to the proverbial naïve fawn I was at the time.
At the time, I was the software product manager of their multi-million dollar cellular product. I was in my mid-twenties and dreaming of one day getting married to my new boyfriend, who also worked at the company.
I was there to talk about enhancements to the phone and to the network for the next release. I had gotten this job “dumped” on me two weeks before that because the regular product manager had thrown up her hands and walked off the project. She never said why, but she assured me it was a wonderful promotion for someone at my level. And she was right—it was a big promotion and I took it without asking questions.
So, there we all were—the marketing team, coffee, doughnuts, and me. The conversation went something like this:
“We need to talk more about the anonymity of the payment process,” said Jim while Carl winked and nudged him.
“Why?” I said. “I thought this was how we gathered our best customer data so we can learn more about the consumers.”
Melissa, a woman in her 50’s, gave me the look and Carl and Jim let out a man-giggle.
Finally, I said, “Okay cool. Let’s do this, but can you explain why we need more anonymity in the payment process?”
Carl and Jim started laughing and Melissa said, “Oh my gosh, she seriously hasn’t figured it out yet! Who wants to explain?”
Carl decided to announce what was so funny and had a patronizing tone in his voice. Obviously, Carl thought, this poor, innocent ingénue of a product manager did not know how the world worked and the burden was on him to explain to me.
Carl said, “I guess no one told you that almost all users of this phone are either cheaters, drug dealers, pimps, or all of the above. But they are mostly cheaters.”
Melissa added, “If we can find out who they are during the payment process, so can their wives or husbands and their one-night stands. We need to allow them to buy refill cards for their minutes in cash so that no one can track them—especially their spouses.”
I said, “so, if you truly do not want to know who these people are, doesn’t this impact the business model of gathering data to better cater to our users?”
Jim said, “Well, of course we would like to gather data so we can learn more about their buying habits. But, this phone generates enormous amounts of revenue for us and the sales go up significantly each time we add more anonymity.”
“We call it The Cheater Phone even though it’s not branded that way,” Melissa added.
And everyone laughed again, except for me. Internally, I was horrified.
It made no sense to me
I could not get my head around why millions of men and women out there would want to cheat on their spouses. I did not understand infidelity since I had not experienced it in any serious way. I was arrogant enough to believe it would never happen to me because I was “smarter than that” and in the past I had simply broken up with a guy if I suspected he was too close to his female buddy. Little did I know that the guy I was dating at the time would become my fiancé, would buy a house with me, and would then ask me to leave so the other woman could move in.
Even though I believed it would never happen to me, this concept of a cheater phone seemed absolutely unethical.
Again, I asked, “Why did the company launch this product in the first place?”
With a look that said it’s time to shut up now, Melissa replied, “This is business, honey.”
That was that, the case of the Cheater Phone was closed.
These marketers certainly knew some of their customer’s wants and needs. They did not care if filling such needs destroyed families. They were getting paid to help create and market products that made the company a lot of money.
At the time, this was especially on everyone’s mind because the executives were preparing to publicly trade the company’s stock. They also hinted that if all lower employees (like me and the marketing team) simply worked hard and kept their opinions to themselves, these same lower-level employees would become rich from the stock option allocations. They liked to throw around the phrase, “Just like Amazon!”
So, all of those folks on the marketing team were looking at an early retirement and pockets flush with cash. As long as they were okay, that is all that mattered. So, they played along. In the end, people never became rich after the IPO. The stock dropped several days after it hit the market.
This very same phone under the very same branding still exists. Of course, it is innocently marketed as a pre-paid wireless service for ‘people on a budget’, but everyone who buys one knows that these phones are hard to discover and even more difficult to track.
Of course, the argument could be made that it is not the Cheater Phone that does harm—it is the person who chooses to have an affair and use the Cheater Phone who does harm.
Still, it is my opinion that it is unethical to manufacture and release a Cheater Phone in the first place. It is my personal opinion that profiting from something that knowingly destroys lives and families is unethical. I know some will not agree with me—but in this case, I do not think it’s just business.
New and Creative Gadgets
Where there are cheating spouses and companies that profit from them, there will also be betrayed spouses and other companies who develop clever spy gadgets to profit from betrayed spouses.
I visualize the Mad Magazine comic strip called Spy Versus Spy, which was first published in 1961. In the comic strip, each spy ends up neutralizing the work of the other.
Since technology changes so quickly, I did some research on some of the latest spy tools for betrayed spouses, if betrayed spouses want to take their chances.
The Smoke Detector Camera
It looks just a like a standard smoke detector, but it actually contains a camera. Considering this device is mounted on the ceiling, I would expect it to capture a pretty good bird’s-eye view of what happens when the proverbial mice come out to play.
Docking Station Hidden Camera
This is an interesting choice for the tech savvy—to hide a camera in the same place they charge their devices. Most often these devices charge in the bedroom, so even better.
Aerial drones provide a hobby, a toy, great views, and an effective spying device rolled into one. In this sad video, one husband used an aerial drone to get proof of his wife’s affair. Unfortunately, the drone was so effective that he found all of the proof that he needed. My heart really goes out to this husband. We all know what it is like to be in his shoes, but his case is even the more devastating since he actually gets to see it happening live before his very eyes.
No Contact Spyware
I do not have a name for a certain type of software program that allows you to monitor a spouse’s phone without ever touching the phone itself. So, I will call it “no contact software.” Companies such as TruthSpy offer products that can be installed on someone’s phone without having physical access to the phone itself. These software products include GPS tracking, but also audio recording and a variety of other features.
From an ethical standpoint, I do not personally believe these do-it-yourself products are a good idea. While I used to think these products were a positive thing, I have since changed my mind. These products, if they fall into the wrong hands, could wreak havoc on families.
For example, in an act of revenge, the other woman or other man could use such a product to track betrayed spouses and their children. I think it is easy to see there is no good end to such a scenario. With anything in life, no “thing” (as in no object such as a knife) is good or bad in itself. It is how that “thing” is used by the person using it. A knife can be used to make dinner that feeds a family or it can be used for violent purposes. So while these no contact spyware programs can be useful for a betrayed spouse, they can be equally as harmful in the wrong hands.
Plus, it kind of creeps me out that any random person (or stalker) could get an intimate peek into someone’s life without their knowledge. It is the idea of having one’s privacy invaded without one’s knowledge that is an issue.
Legal Implications of Spying on a Spouse
Each state has different laws when it comes to recording audio or combination audio/video material without another person’s consent. If you live in such a state where such scenarios are against the law, it would be possible for you to be counter-sued by a spouse even if the audio caught your spouse in the act. Your spouse might be able to file a charge for invasion of privacy, even though he or she is the person who did the harm.
Here is one attorney’s opinion on this and this particular attorney resides in the state of North Carolina. (Note for the future—North Carolina has laws that allow the betrayed spouse to sue the paramour under alienation of affection laws.) Here is an opinion from the Rosen law firm about spying on a spouse:
“There are both federal and state laws that prohibit recording and spying on your spouse. Without getting too bogged down in the details, here is a brief overview of the laws that prohibit you from “bugging” your spouse. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act make it illegal to intercept or gain unauthorized access to certain types of information. There are two subsections we will refer to in this article. The first, referred to as “Title I,” discusses interception of wire, oral, or electronic communication. “Title II” deals with unauthorized access to electronic communications held in electronic storage. Title I is implicated if you are using a voice activated recording device or certain types of email spyware, and Title II is implicated when you “hack” into your spouse’s email account… Somewhat surprisingly, the rules regarding video recording are in fact different from the rules that apply to voice and telephone recording. Strangely enough, the federal and state wiretapping laws only protect the interception of oral communication like voice-activated recorders and phone tap systems. The statute does not ban video recordings. This is precisely why “Nanny Cams” have no audio; it is permissible to record video absent an audio feed. As long as you own the property (or otherwise have permission), placing a video recorder may not result in a violation of the federal or state wire tapping laws.” (1)
Basically, audio recordings without consent of one party are illegal. But, nanny cams without audio are permissible in many cases. Who knew a teddy bear could be so helpful?
I wanted to digress and tell a story about why nanny cams are a must have if you have children. My husband has a colleague – we will call her Belinda – who chose to conceive and carry a son by means of artificial insemination. Since Belinda worked full-time and was well-paid, she found the best nanny service in the city. This particular nanny service did extensive background checks and interviews for each nanny. Belinda interviewed several potential nannies until she settled on a nanny named Dina. Dina loved Belinda’s son and Belinda felt comfortable with Dina.
Still, Belinda knew enough about human nature to realize that being “nice” is a behavioral choice and not a character trait. (Integrity is a character trait and someone with true integrity does the right thing even when no one is looking.) After all, Ted Bundy is still referred to as “the nicest guy anyone could ever meet” by people who were friends with him. I know two people who knew Ted personally and who still cannot wrap their heads around how someone “so nice and charming” could do such horrible things. Well, it is because nice is a choice and because people like ted Bundy have public faces and private faces.
Back to Belinda. Belinda happened to be very savvy in terms of interpersonal skills. Even though she liked Dina the nanny and saw that Dina the nanny liked her son, Belinda’s gut told her to put up nanny cams in every room.
One night, during an overnight shift, Belinda had the nanny cam live streaming to her computer. First, she saw that her son was crying, but Dina decided to yell and pace the floor instead of soothing him. After Dina’s son did not stop crying, Belinda saw Dina take him from his crib, violently shake him, and throw him face-down on the floor.
As you can imagine, Belinda went to her supervisor and left her shift immediately. Belinda also called the police on her way there. By the time Belinda arrived home, the police were there and Dina was taken away in handcuffs. When Belinda sent the police report to the nanny service, they simply could not believe it. They claimed that their nannies had never done such things. (How did they know if there was never nanny cam?)
In fact, this is not the first person I know to have gone through this. Another friend and his wife hired a trusted acquaintance to be a nanny. But, since the husband was a computer guy, he had cameras installed throughout the house. Their nanny was caught holding their son under the water in the tub after he would not stop crying. That nanny was also arrested.
Even though I digressed, I feel that this topic of monitoring is an important one even though it presents an ethical conundrum.
I believe it is absolutely necessary to know exactly what you are facing in life. Even if the truth is ugly, I would rather see the ugly truth than to live in supposedly blissful denial. In fact, I believe living in denial in dangerous because when the truth comes out, and it always comes out, you will be taken completely off guard, shattered, and left unable to think rationally in the moment. So, I unequivocally believe that if you suspect your spouse is cheating, you should talk to a professional investigator and find a way to hire his or her services.
As long as a cheating spouse has you in the dark, a cheating spouse has all the power. He or she could be putting away money in difficult to trace bank accounts. He or she could be viewing homes with the other person and getting ready to make a down payment on a second place. He or she could be taking your retirement money (especially if you do not review finances) and hiding it where you will never find it.
Of course, many of us live in states with no fault divorce where everything is split 50/50 should a divorce go forward. That does not matter—here is why: a cheating spouse is a master manipulator and a cheating spouse will do anything to make you feel like you are crazy and even to go as far as suggesting you go on medication for your alleged craziness. Many of us play into this because we trust our spouses and believe they would never hurt us. That is, if we do not know our spouses are having an affair.
For your own sanity, well being, and future, it is absolutely necessary to uncover infidelity so that you know what you are up against. You need to have this knowledge so that you can decide what your future holds and take steps to protect yourself. Without this knowledge, you could lose everything.
While we cannot control what others do to us, we can control how we respond. In order to respond in a way that benefits us, we must know the whole story.
Most cheating spouses will go to great lengths to hide infidelity. For example, if you listened to Mr. Martin’s interview, you will recall the ‘falling out of the ceiling’ story. That is, a wife caught her husband in the act with the other women in the wife’s marital bed. The husband’s defense was that the ‘women just fell out of the ceiling’ and it was not what it looked like.
There are many cheaters who will try to gaslight even when a spouse catches them. Having concrete and irrefutable evidence is important because it will save your sanity and provide you with a reminder of what happened. With concrete proof, a cheating spouse will not be able to manipulate as effectively. Or, if they do manipulate, they will not be able to target your sanity.
In these cases, you need your sanity. In order to keep it, you must know exactly what is happening. This is why I believe it is so important to hire a private investigator. Plus, if the investigator is like Mr. Martin, he will have a roster of the best attorneys, counselors, and other services to ensure that you have a guiding hand through recovery whether you choose to stay or go.
This is why it is important to find out the truth. Even if the truth hurts, the truth also allows you to take your power back by choosing what you will do, rather than having life happen to you.
Being in a situation where life happens to you often puts you in the role of the victim. When you allow life to just happen, you are powerless because you are living life at the whims of someone else. In cases of infidelity, the truth will set you free and also empower you to take the right steps on your terms. Knowing the truth is essential.
If a spouse is cheating, you need to know. If a spouse is cheating, it is even better if you can find a legal way to gather hard evidence about an affair. While many of us will do our own snooping, I believe that there are many cases where it is necessary to hire a professional. A professional knows the laws and knows how to gather important evidence in a way that is also legal.
Further, it does not matter if you live in a no-fault divorce state or not. Even if you cannot present a spouse’s cheating to the judge, finding out the extent of an affair and having hard evidence is essential for you on many levels. The first is that if you know the truth, you can choose your next move. You will not be subject to the whims of a cheater and will not have to be subject to his or her horrible decisions.
Second, knowing the truth makes it less likely that your spouse will successfully manipulate you. Cheaters who have not yet been discovered have a favorite tactic; that favorite tactic is to convince a betrayed spouse that the betrayed spouse is crazy. (This is often referred to as gaslighting.) Many cheating spouses will go as far as to pepper conversations with family and friends with the idea that the betrayed spouse is crazy. This is done to remove focus from the wayward spouse and put it on the betrayed spouse.
Also, intuition often tells a person what is really going on. If a person’s intuition is that something is amiss in the marriage and if they keep getting told they are crazy, there will be so many negative consequences for the betrayed spouse and for the marriage. There is a strong mind-body connection and a betrayed spouse will suffer if they come to believe they are the problem. This type of manipulation, given time, could drive a sane betrayed spouse crazy and will also likely make a betrayed spouse physically ill. When there is a strong intuition that something is amiss, knowing the truth is essential for a betrayed spouse’s physical and mental health.
Third, it is important to know the truth because the unfaithful spouse could be squirreling away money and this money can be difficult to locate. A cheating spouse can devastate a betrayed spouse financially right under his or her nose, especially if the betrayed spouse has never been involved in family finances. This will also create a devastating financial future for a betrayed spouse.
Finally, I will loop back around to what I said in the beginning. If it is at all financially possible, it is best to hire a professional to help investigate your spouse. A good private investigator is for your protection, not your spouses. A private investigator worth his or her salt will know the laws and gather evidence legally. He or she will also be able to connect you to helpful individuals in other fields such as attorneys, therapists, and forensic accountants.
In the end, I know that many here have successfully done their own investigation and I am not against that. We have some incredibly bright, incredible, and savvy men and women on this site who are natural sleuths in addition to their many other wonderful qualities. Therefore, this article was written with the spirit of guiding betrayed spouses to find ways to access the truth about their marriage without it backfiring on them later. If you have been your own sleuth, I do not judge you—I simply do not want you to get caught because then your wayward spouse can put the focus on you and make you out to be the villain.
If you want to share a successful sleuthing story, please share it in the comment section below.
I hope all of you enjoyed the interview with Thomas Martin. If you have not listened to it yet, you can listen to it below by pushing the play button, or you can download it and listen later by clicking this link. and then saving it to your computer.
If you would like to read his book, you can find it here: http://amzn.to/2vPhKnm
Rosen Law Firm. Can I Tap My Spouse’s Phone? From https://www.rosen.com/alimony/alimonyarticles/cell-phone-spyware/