Spouses worried about troubled marriages turn into spies

Divorce attorneys say spouses using evidence from text messages, GPS trackers


ORLANDO, Fla. – Technology is turning scorned lovers into amateur sleuths.  From purses to clocks to GPS devices, you may never know what's recording and who's watching.

A hidden camera obscured in the stairwell of a low-budget hotel offers more proof of what one wife has suspected all along.  Another woman may be the reason for her husband's long nights at work and late night text messages.

"It's just overwhelming as to what intelligence you can gather from these devices," said James Copenhaver, an Orlando private investigator who captured that surveillance video.

Copenhaver says his office gets nearly a dozen calls a day from anxious lovers or suspicious spouses desperate for evidence to justify their gut feeling.

"It comes down to do I invest any more of my life and time with this person. Are you really being faithful," said Copenhaver.

In the past three years 92-percent of divorce attorneys saw an increase in evidence from text messages, emails and GPS trackers, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The technology that makes it easy to cheat, like the internet and smart phones, has ironically made it even easier to catch cheaters.

"This one will let you know all the chat logs. When people are cheating they're usually chatting with their lover via Yahoo or Skype so this will record all that," said Bob Brown, Jr., whose family-run business Spy Geeks in Altamonte Springs has gotten bigger as the James-Bond-like gadgets they sell have gotten smaller and more affordable.

"Ten years ago it [a GPS tracker] was about the size of a brick.  So much more details and you don't have to be there to follow the person any more you can sit at home and track them," said Brown.

But resorting to this kind of technological snooping breaks more than just trust it can also break the law.

In the state of Florida, while you can use hidden cameras to record video of someone in a public place, it's against the law to record what they're saying.

Going through a spouses e-mail or cell phone that is password protected is considered hacking.

Spyware and GPS trackers can only be used on cars and computers that you have paid for and own.

If seeing all of that has made you paranoid, remember, there are devices you can buy that detect bugs and hidden cameras.

And finding a GPS tracker is as simple as looking under your car, but they can be rather small. A GPS tracker given to Local 6 to test out was only two inches in size.

The GPS currently runs about $500, which includes hardware and the website tracking for the first year.