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Are Your Cell Phone Communications Safe?

By Brad Robinson, Private Investigator

Brad RobinsonWe are often asked by our clients who are in the midst of a messy divorce, a contentious child custody battle or a serious stalker situation, “Can he/she be intercepting my cellphone communications?” In almost all cases, the short answer is, “Yes.”

Cell phone “spyware”

Today, it’s not just those 3-letter spy agencies who may be listening in to our most private exchanges. Surprisingly sophisticated and inexpensive cellphone “spyware” can be found and purchased online by anyone. The better versions enable an unauthorized eavesdropper to remotely capture copies of your call log, address book, text messages, photos and more (bank account PIN, anyone?). In some of the more elaborate versions, your actual phone conversations can be overheard in real time! It’s a frightening prospect but there are steps you can take to counter this threat.

One time access to a “Smartphone”

Most at risk are the now ubiquitous Smartphones. These handy devices are, in essence, tiny, portable computers with zero anti-virus software. As such, they are quite vulnerable to all manner of viruses, malware, spyware, Trojans, etc. In most instances, the “bugger” will secretly download the software onto your phone manually, if he has just a few minutes alone with your device. At that point, the target phone can be programmed to report automatically to a second phone. In other words, he/she never has to gain physical access to your phone again.

Attachments that attack

Even more disturbing is the fact that your Smartphone can also be attacked externally. For example, every time you are encouraged to download an attachment onto your phone, covert spyware can be lingering in the background of that attachment.

You could never be tricked into downloading something sketchy, right? How about a birthday card, Happy Hour e-vite or “you gotta check out the funniest video clip ever!”? You see the promised card, clip, etc., so you don’t think anything of it. But it’s the invisible attachment to that attachment that just infected your i-Phone, Android or Blackberry.

In addition, each of those super cool applications that you happily download (seriously, do you really need that new FindMeTheNearestBagel app?) represents another opportunity for someone to backdoor something sinister onto your phone (and they couldn’t have done it without YOUR help).

 It’s smarter not to have a “Smartphone”

Non-Smartphones are less vulnerable. Because it doesn’t have Internet capability, your old-school flip phone is a harder target. However, there are tools (SIM card readers, etc.) for attacking these phones as well. But now the bad guy must get physical access to your phone to do his dirty work. Furthermore, this will get him only historical (not real-time) data from your phone and once he downloads those details, he would need to get back into your phone to gather further info.

Pay-as-you-go is the smartest

Most secure would be a pay-as-you-go, non-Smartphone (i.e., burner phone). If purchased in person (e.g., Walmart’s TracFone), paid for in cash (original and follow-on minutes should also be paid for in cash) and registered with alias name, address, etc., these phones are all but untraceable. Because no call records are kept, even by the provider, on these low-end devices, no one can ever get a copy of your monthly statement (there is none) even if their brother works at the phone company.

Protect your new number

Treat your new phone number as “sensitive” and only give it out to trusted persons. Also, use the password access (I know it’s a hassle) and keep your phone close to you at all times and your secret communications might remain your secret.

Brad Robinson is an ex-CIA operative and currently Senior Partner with The Millennium Group, a full-service investigative and security consulting firm staffed by former federal agents. They offer a variety of romance fraud-related investigations nationwide including debugging “sweeps” of residences, offices, vehicles and phones. Visit their website at MillenniumGroup2001.com or call them at 855-SPY-TEAM.


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28 Comments on "Are Your Cell Phone Communications Safe?"

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Thank you Brad – this information is so important. I have spoken to many Lovefraud readers who believe their cell phones, computers, etc. have been bugged. We really need to be aware of the danger and take steps to protect ourselves.

I always send a no-contract phone with my children when they go on visitation, as it is in another state. I activate it only for a week or two at a time when they will be gone. In March 2013, I discovered as I was trying to reactivate it for the next visit, that the SIM card had been switched out with another. The only people who had any access to that phone were my children (who wouldn’t have the means or interest to switch it) and their father, who they say actively blocks their communication with me when on visits. I can never reach them.

I became very alarmed at this turn of events which made me look at the situation very differently. I had recently moved to another state and gone into hiding so the location information on the SIM card that was removed was no longer valid, however, it likely still had text messages and phone numbers on it. Not long after that visit in March 2013, he had me found at my hidden address that not even my mother had and sent a package to my house to let me know.

“Sweeping” my kids’ suitcases and stuffed animals upon their return, looking for electronic devices and also checking their iPods for new apps has become the norm. It’s pretty sad that I have to tell my children to sleep with their electronics under their pillow to try to protect us.

Oh wow, Lisa. That’s horrible. 🙁 makes me really happy that my ex is a complete moron when it comes to electronics. I hope by the time my son is old enough to have a cell phone, that his dad will be locked up in jail…or 10 ft under (latter one preferred) lol

Great article Brad Robinson,

This information is not widely known. I’ve had several attorneys deny the existence of the technology. But I have had several conversations that my husband was aware of even though he was in ant hoer location. I believe he used one of these programs.

Thanks for confirming that they do indeed exist.

Brad,

Isn’t it illegal for anyone to use any technology on cell phones for private use, other than monitoring children or employees?

Just wondering about the leaglities of the cell phone tracking.

Thanks so much for your input!

In most cases, yes, such activity IS illegal. Depending on the circumstances and the jurisdiction, eavesdropping on another person’s private phone conversations can be a violation of state law and even federal “wiretapping” statutes. Unfortunately, even if they are aware that their actions are illegal, most sociopaths won’t let a little thing like “laws” stand between them and something they want.

HopingToHeal,
You are exactly right, many attorneys and people in general do not realize this is possible to do. I am glad you have noticed that your husband (or ex) has mentioned things that he otherwise couldn’t be aware of otherwise. I noticed the same when I was going through my divorce. My family (and some of my friends) thought I was crazy. However, I knew him best-I got a private investigator to my house. He found a listening device in my house and additionally found that my home phone landline was forwarded to my ex’s cellphone where he could pick and choose landline conversations i was having. These people stop at nothing when it comes to control and money in a divorce.

I_survived_The_Bastard

While we were still living at the same address, my ex would make comments about my ‘boyfriends’ etc and seemed to know stuff there was no way he should have been able to know. He claimed to be able to read my emails. I was never 100% sure about this and wondered if he had a keystroke log software installed on the computer.

He claimed not to know too much about computers and got very upset one day when he couldn’t get stuff to work. Then once it was sorted he became almost addicted to the computer and he spent more time playing games that having a relationship with me.

After I threw him out I found the most horrendous images on the computer, in the start up programme and all over it. It took months to get rid of them all. Every now and again I would find some in places like the Temp folder or int he cache or even deeper in the file structure.

Now I have a new computer built totally from scratch. It made me feel like i was being watched all the time.

I_survived_The_Bastard

Also he claimed that the secret services had bugged our flat and that every now and again he had to ‘sweep’ to make sure no one was listening to him. I know for definite our phone was bugged once, I heard the tell tale click.

haha…this reminded me that my ex used to claim he was in the ‘witness protection program’. I met his huge family 4 times. He still goes by his birth name! lolol what a dumba$$! he used to claim he was under surveillance too, but I’m guessing that’s because he was a drug dealer/gang banger. You never really get the WHOLE truth from these creatures.

So good to see an article like this. My ex called AT&T probably knew someone there and threw him some money and got the serial number of my phone. With that serial number he was able to download an app called reflection which mirrored everything I did. From my texts to my camera roll. He knew exactly what I would text my best friend because my words would later be used by him in manipulative emails. He did this all without ever having access to my iphone. If you have a smartphone always keep location services off and Bluetooth off. They are sick twisted individuals!

This process is designed to help you uninstall Mobile Spy from your iPhone 3G, 3Gs, 4, 4S, or 5.

*** If Cydia is hidden, you will need to unhide it to uninstall Mobile Spy. To do so:

Dial #54321* for Mobile Spy version 6.5
Dial *12345 for Mobile Spy versions 6.0 and 5.0
Dial **54321 for Mobile Spy version 4.0
Once the Smartphone / Smartpad icon appears, tap on it to bring up the interface, tap Settings, and slide the slider next to Hide Jailbroken Icon to the OFF position. Then tap Save in the top-right corner, and press the Home button to return to the main springboard. In 3-5 seconds, it will re-spring and Cydia should now be visible. ***

nomoretears2013,
How/where were the detectors hidden? How were they discovered…special devices?
I know there are cameras all over our house…he says not, but when he’s been elsewhere, I’ve been looking up at smoke/fire and CO detectors mounted onto 10′ ceilings. He’s told me that he knows I’ve been looking for cameras!…really…how would he know that if there weren’t working cameras?
Regarding listening devices…I’m certain there’s at least one in the master bath or closet. A plumber friend was working in the shower area. I told him to make sure to take all of his tools because my husband (the guy’s “friend”) takes other peoples’ tools. My husband was off purchasing parts…came beck…told the guy to make sure he took all of his tools with when he left…repeated this at least 3 times!
A friend has called my cell phone…and his answering machine answered! I’ve called my friend using my cell and have heard his office phone ring. Also, when talking on the land line (last telephone number different from his office) I can hear him talking on his line…she can too!

I_survived_The_Bastard
We’re on a computer network. Every email goes to one of his computers first. I also assume he sees every keystroke I’m making right now! Sure wish I knew how to corrupt his spy action…at least make him have to take time out to rebuild the system. He wanted to get new HDMI (?) TVs …that have built-in cameras…I told him that if he did that I’d cover them w/art quilts. (We didn’t get them!…but I discovered that the Br TV already had it…covered every pin hole that I could find w/ “foggy” gift wrapping tape…hope that worked. )

I don’t understand all of the spying, but I sure wish I could figure out a way to turn this to make him defeat himself.

Yes, the private investigator had some sort of device that he used to scan the house that beeped. I had devices in both the upstairs and downstairs DVD/TV’s. Also coming from basement where you could hear all from my great room area through a floor vent. When I got those out I later discovered he purchased something from a spyware store on the internet that he could come as far as a football field distance from my house, sit in his car and listen to all in my house (without having any device in my house) Everyone pay attention to when they repeat comments or pieces of conversation they otherwise wouldn’t know. They love the control and mind games as we know. They must be listening to you-do not put anything past them.

I have to say this-in remembering and sharing all of this and reading ya’lls posts it is so awful and invading what people can do to another human being. I can tell you it is so peaceful to be divorced and away from the enemy. To not feel safe in your own home is the worst feeling a person can have.

Please assume that your phone, computer, tablet, and kids’ phones are tracked and monitored! Upon a split, you must get them “wiped” by the cell phone store, or debugged, or get new ones. Four+ years ago, I installed such software on my husband’s phone, with his permission, counselor told him we had to be totally transparent with each other. I was non-techy and it was super easy. The software had GPS tracking, so I watched everywhere he went. He didn’t realize this, and forgot I was seeing his text msgs, so he got ‘caught.’ So YES, even non-techy people will do this, if they have had access to your equipment. One kid I know asked to borrow his mom’s phone, because dad had instructed him to… so he could install software. The kid was already disordered because of the very-bad dad, and knowingly helped the dad. So sad.

But what may be equally important to know, is that technology exists today to “mirror” computers. A friend of mine is now working with a PI, and they are plotting to mirror all the home & biz computers before she leaves the Borderline PD husband. With the right expert, the mirroring will show EVERYTHING that has ever happened on the computer, even if they think they’ve wiped it clean. There is a top expert in Raleigh NC who can do this. They attach a device to the computer and it copies it. If I had known to do this before splitting with my ex-soc, I could have saved myself $100,000+ in the legal battle afterward. Of course you must have legal rights to the equipment, such as being an owner of the business, etc.

While we’re on the subject, I want to again stress the importance of using a digital voice recorder to record EVERY phone call and conversation you have, once you split. It is legal in most states (google it) if you are a party to the conversation. These recordings have captured critical info and exposed massive lies, in the 2 years I’ve fought a legal battle since splitting. They were CRITICAL in helping me obtain sole custody and protect my kids.

Great advice to all elizabethbrooks! Especially, do not waste money and time on monitoring the items you have no ownership of.

One other point, do not forget your online cell phone account. If your ex paid the bills, etc. he/she could easily have set up your online account, and be monitoring your every call and text. Be sure to set up your own account! If you are unable to log in to it, immediately get on the phone with the cell co., your ex may have your acct set up.

Also, some cell companies (maybe all) have the option of adding GPS locating to your phones. I’ve heard it’s only $10 a month with Verizon to add this feature. If your ex has your acct online, they could easily add this.

aintgonnatakeitnomore

i have been using pay as you go phns, and i refuse to give my name when they activate it, for last 5 yrs. glad to know there is no call record. is there no text record either? id love to know this. i cant imagine having a phn that is: HERE I AM, where i live–come rob or rape me and my kids. im just not cool enough to need to tell everyone i am eating a bagel at brueggers with betty-lou either.
and having the cheapo phn also allows me to drop it in the nearest garbage if i feel i need to and getting another cheapo non-traceable phn. which the ex has never touched for sure.

I agree going to your cell provider is the best way to know your phone is cleared of any spyware or whatever. Geez if sociopaths put in as much time in something with a good cause – and not dedicating their life to make sure ours are miserable. Think of things they could do. But a sociopath doesn’t know how to be good. They will never learn. They don’t want to. It irritates me how much of my life is consumed and wasted because the sociopath is constantly up to trickery and deception. I’m so freaking sick of it. I’m so sick of feeling paranoid and worried and stressed. But like the sociopath can’t stop doing vindictive and malicious and hateful things. I can’t stop worrying about what will be done next to hurt me and my family…

SocioSugar,

I so agree with you. It stinks to have someone play games with you constantly! My attorney hit home with me when he told me “You may divorce him, but you will never be rid of him”. The thought of it makes me ill. NC helps, but how do you ever find peace from the constant monitoring?

This article really touches home for me. a few years ago, I noticed my phone would make “noises” when I was on a conversation such as clicking noises and static. Then I would notice my phone would light up even when I was not using it. This alerted me that there was a possibility that someone was accessing my “speaker: and listening to my conversations even when I was at home. What was the “breaker” was when my phone battery was hot even after being unused for hours. I knew the that my ex-s/p had bugged my phone. I purchased an application called ‘bulldog” that can detect viruses. Once I applied the app to my phone and administered it, there were several viruses detected. This confirmed my phone had been bugged. My daughter also had a “blue tooth” application added to her phone without any awareness in which my ex-s/p was able to access it and listen in on her from anywhere. He also told her he knows everywhere she is and can track her. What I have learned from these deranged individuals is that they are so proud of their devious accomplishments and they cannot contain themselves. They will tell on themselves eventually…you just have to have the savvy to LISTEN. They are definitely the epitome of “mind rape” at its best and when you try to explain it to people, they just can not wrap their heads around it. It is evil beyond an reasonable explanation because people do not want to believe such evil exists. But it does. Just read the bible…Evil is rampant in both the old and new testament. Where is God? He is everywhere and has already warned us that the prince of this earth is the devil and encourages us not to seek our treasures here on earth, but to seek Him. Where our heart is, there our treasure is also…doesn’t make it any easier but this is not the end of our story. We have to believe that these s/p individuals will go to every extent possible to break us. That is why the bible teaches us to be wise as a serpent and calm as a dove. They are looking for a reaction and we are NOT to give them what they want. I have a smart phone now and I am very careful what I discuss when on the phone. y ex’s wife even went so far as to follow my attorney to another country, most likely to bribe him. Whether he took it or not is still a mystery. He I going on vacation for a month, which seems to be the norm for those that have been bribed by my ex. Two evaluators took the same “hiatus” and it has me wondering…

So scary . Thank you for the “bulldog” tip. I will use that.

hgg522,

It has blown my mind over the last few years of reading and blogging on this website how we all could have been married to the same man; including now bribing as yours did-mine did that too.

How is it possible to have cellphone remotely hacked. It happened to me. The background echo a little static. I knew of the signs. I called my freind back again standing in the same place in the house, no electricals on. And again the same odd noise. I asked my friend is there any background noise,etc she says no. I told her my phone is not right. Hang on there while I say something, Then I shouted, I know my phone is being tapped. I hung up. Dialed again 30secs later and it was gone. I explained it to my friend, embarrasingly. But what its stranger than fiction is how people access outside your home and remotely? And why?

Is the clicking sound heard from the other end as well as your own? I know my Narc husband tried to remove my hard drive from my macbook so I suspect something is up with my new smartphone. Friends tell me there is a clicking noise on my phone that they never hear on other phones.
Is this a sign that he hacked into my phone?

Definitely could be sign your phone hacked!

It could be. Some of today’s more sophisticated eavesdropping systems can be set to signal a second phone (the eavesdropper’s) when the target phone has an incoming/outgoing call. This allows him the option of listening in to your call “real-time”. The clicking you hear could be him coming onto the line (joining the call, so to speak) after having been alerted that you are on a new call. Best to ditch that phone or simply limit your conversations to non-sensitive topics that would not be harmful to you in the event that someone IS listening in. Of course, you could also go on the offensive and have the bad guy running around town trying to follow up on the fake “leads” that you feed him. For example, “I am so excited about my date with Carlos at the zoo on Saturday!” Spies call this “disinformation”.

KeepingOn, here is another article for you to read.

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