VOL. 41 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 03, 2017
Social media quick to expose your cheating heart
By Hollie Deese | Correspondent
For many couples, it is the ultimate deal breaker.
It was for Stacey Greene. Her husband cheated on her five years ago after she caught him texting the “other woman.’’ Thanks to the ease by which people can leave a digital paper trail these days, it only took a little time behind the computer screen to learn all she wanted to about the other woman.
“I started with copying the phone number off of my husband’s phone,” says Greene, who documented her divorce in the book, “Stronger Than Broken: One Couple’s Decision to Move Through an Affair.’’
She used the free website, Spokeo, to do a basic search on the number, and once she knew the affair was happening, Greene was able to pick up on all kinds of digital clues from her husband.
“I swear, he must have wanted to get caught,” Greene says. “One of the texts said something about some songs on an iPod. I knew he did not own an iPod, so I searched his clothing when he was at work and found one.”
She plugged the iPod into her computer and up popped the other woman’s full name to whom the iPod was registered. From that point, Greene could go back to the internet and search where the woman lived, her age and much more.
“I could look at her public profile on Facebook without ‘friending’ her,” Greene adds. “I could see what she looked like, what her child looked like and who all of her best friends were. I even saw that we had two mutual friends. Yikes.”
The ease at which she found the information was almost staggering, but Greene was admittedly helped immensely by her husband’s carelessness. He even gave their family’s shared land line number to a fitness place he frequented with the other woman.
“A salesman had called and asked if he liked his free trial membership,” she says. “Now I knew where he and the other woman were working out and spending time together.”
If you don’t have the guts to go digging yourself as Greene did, there are plenty of companies that will. Matt DeLeon is the vice president of investigations for Trustify, an online national marketplace that connects people with licensed private investigators in their area.
“We are kind of the Uber for private investigators,” he says.
DeLeon says Trustify has a strong presence in Nashville and a growing one in Memphis, with a few other regions smattered about. They have tactical investigators who do surveillance and field work, others that are strictly researchers, and some that do both. But whatever they do is all on the up and up.
“The most common request we get is to put a GPS tracker on their [the spouse’s] car to see all of their text messages and both of those are highly illegal,” he explains. “The majority of people don’t use private investigators, in general, so when they are coming to us they have a misinformed impression of what an investigator does, and how we go about it, and what is legal and what’s not.”
Some cases can take months to get everything that’s needed, while others can be shut in just a matter of hours.
Proof can benefit in divorce
DeLeon explains that because divorce laws vary from state to state, his firm always recommends speaking with an attorney first to find out what specifically is needed for the case in that state, what can be done to track a cheating spouse.
Scott Kimberly, a divorce lawyer in Murfreesboro, says proof of cheating helps people getting divorced in Tennessee in two ways. It helps one spouse argue that the other spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage. And, it is a factor that courts consider in assessing alimony.
“Unfortunately, fault is not considered in dividing property, so in many divorces the evidence of cheating may not be as influential or important as a spouse thinks,” Kimberly points out.
In contested divorce cases, Kimberly says the principal tasks assigned to a judge often include dividing marital property between the parties and dividing parenting time between the parties. Another common issue handled by courts is alimony, which is awarded when one spouse needs financial support from another after a divorce.
“If the only issue between spouses is splitting up property, then the court will not consider who broke up the marriage,” Kimberly adds. “However, fault is a factor in assessing alimony and can be a factor in dividing parenting time because the court is instructed to consider the relative moral fitness of the parties as it relates to parenting the children.
“I have often argued that an adulterous relationship and an affair, which destroyed a marriage, demonstrates a lack of moral fitness required to provide for the well-being of a child.”
Heather Brooke Quick’s mission is to educate and empower women on their rights and the law, so each can find the strength to endure the process and end up better off financially and emotionally. As the founder and CEO of the divorce and family law firm for women, The Quick Law Group, in Jacksonville, Florida, she has the tools to find out what’s happening in a marriage on the rocks.
“Most all couples going through a divorce that suspect cheating want proof,” Quick says. “I have successfully used a PI on many occasions to catch the other party involved in the affair. Most people want that more for their own satisfaction, especially if the spouse has lied about the affair.”
To use the information successfully in a divorce action, Quick adds the best evidence is in the financials.
“Many times, the money spent on the affair is the most beneficial information because it is the marital money used for an extra marital affair,” Quick says. “The combination of evidence of the romantic relationship and financial records to support the relationship provide the best advantage in litigation for the spouse to get compensated for the money spent on the affair.”
Online trail hard to erase
Ashley Madison, an online dating site marketed to married people looking for an extramarital relationship, ended up showing what type of mess people can leave online, DeLeon points out.
When Ashley Madison was hacked and the information regarding who was registered was released, Trustify was one of the first firms to have access to the information.
“Anytime you are doing anything online, there is always a trail, always a track, always something that can be found – even if you go through and delete everything instantly,” DeLeon says.
Kimberly says he believes the Facebook archive tool best helps those who want the truth about a straying spouse.
“As technology has expanded, so have the various ways in which cheaters communicate with paramours,” Kimberly says. “If I have a client who suspects that a spouse may be communicating with other women via Facebook messenger, I immediately send a request for the other party to download a Facebook archive, which catalogs activity on Facebook, including an index of every message you have sent and received via the website.
“In this sense, catching a cheating spouse has become much easier, because technology leaves an extensive digital paper trail.”
According to Winq, a social polling app for millennials, 56 percent of their users have thought about following their partner to see if they’re cheating, and 40 percent of their users would trick a partner to find out if they’re cheating or not.
In addition, 25 percent of Winq’s users have caught their partner cheating over social media, while 48 percent of their users have caught someone cheating through text messages. By comparison, only 11 percent of their users have actually walked in on their significant other cheating on them.
Relationship expert Robert Weiss, author of the new book, “Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating,’’ specializes in infidelity and addictions, in particular sex, porn and love addictions. He says the internet not only helps catch people in infidelity, it helps fuel it in the first place.
“The internet provides the three A’s of intensity and attraction that make such an easy lure for porn and casual sex, experiences that are now near immediate via endless porn online, endless partners available via apps like Tinder and Ashley-Madison and many, many hook-up and sex-finder sites,” Weiss says.
The three A’s of internet sexual intensity are anonymity, access and affordability.
“Just think about looking for porn or to get a casual sex partner back in 1992,” he says. “Pre-internet, in order to find a sexual experience, you actually had to go somewhere, a place people might see you, and you might not get lucky or you might go home alone. Now it’s a click and another click, send some data, click more and someone is at your house ready to get in your bed.”
DeLeon says it can be difficult for individuals to face the reality of their suspicions and trains his firm’s investigators to handle how to deliver such news with empathy.
“For anyone thinking about hiring a private investigator, be prepared for the worst,” DeLeon points out. “If you do have a suspicion your spouse is cheating, there is a big difference between a suspicion and seeing a picture of the person you are with embracing someone else or [they] are on one of these countless hookup sites there are out there.”
He also says to be prepared for cheaters to deny everything when confronted, but not to be fooled.
“Even with photographic evidence, people will say ‘That’s not me,” DeLeon says. “Once people go down that path it is very hard to extricate themselves from it.”
Weiss says the most painful part of cheating for a betrayed spouse is not the sex itself, or even the affair. “What kills the soul of a loving committed female spouse is the lying, the manipulating, the secrecy and the craziness all that creates,” he adds “And bottom line, it is a betrayal of trust.”
As hard as it was for Greene to be confronted with proof of her husband’s affair, it was what she needed in order to move on.
“In my case, once I found the texts he knew that I knew he had cheated, and we could move on from there,” Greene says. “I guess that in a case where a wife only suspects, she should still look for behavior that is out of the ordinary and do her due diligence.”