Valentine's Day Security

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article (unfortunately, the link is only for paid subscribers) about how Valentine's Day is the day when cheating spouses are most likely to trip up:

Valentine's Day is the biggest single 24-hour period for florists, a huge event for greeting-card companies and a boon for candy makers. But it's also a major crisis day for anyone who is having an affair. After all, Valentine's Day is the one holiday when everyone is expected to do something romantic for their spouse or lover -- and if someone has both, it's a serious problem.

So, of course, private detectives work overtime.

"If anything is going on, it will be happening on that day," says Irene Smith, who says business at her Discreet Investigations detective agency in Golden, Colo., as much as doubles -- to as many as 12 cases some years -- on Valentine's Day.

Private detectives are expensive -- about $100 per hour, according to the article -- and might not be worth it.

The article suggests some surveillance tools you can buy at home: a real-time GPS tracking system you can hide in your spouse's car, a Home Evidence Collection Kit you can use to analyze stains on "clothing, car seats or elsewhere," Internet spying software, a telephone recorder, and a really cool buttonhole camera.

But even that stuff may be overkill:

Ruth Houston, author of a book called Is He Cheating on You? -- 829 Telltale Signs, says she generally recommends against spending money on private detectives to catch cheaters because the indications are so easy to read. (Sign No. 3 under "Gifts": He tries to convince you he bought expensive chocolates for himself.)

I hope I don't need to remind you that cheaters should also be reading that book, familiarizing themselves with the 829 telltale signs they should avoid making.

The article has several interesting personal stories, and warns that "planning a 'business trip' that falls over Valentine's Day is a typical mistake cheaters make."

So now I'm wondering why the RSA Conference is being held over Valentine's Day.

EDITED TO ADD (2/14): Today's Washington Post has a similar story.

Posted on February 14, 2006 at 8:35 AM • 26 Comments

Comments

jayhFebruary 14, 2006 8:54 AM

>>Telltale Signs,

Gee I'll bet everyone probably (and often quite innocently) must display some of those signs. Lots of false positives.

Seriously, nothing will destroy a relationship as thoroughly as excess suspicion, this kind of obsession only fuels that.

The MailmanFebruary 14, 2006 9:06 AM

> I hope I don't need to remind you
> that cheaters should also be
> reading that book, familiarizing
> themselves with the 829 telltale
> signs they should avoid making.

Interesting. This actually makes buying the book in the first place a telltale sign.

So, is everyone "attending the RSA conference" this year?

Davi OttenheimerFebruary 14, 2006 10:05 AM

I like the book cover. The only thing less obvious might be a series of embedded flashing LEDs. Leave that out on the coffee table... And I heard it was going to be "830 things" but the NSA forced her to redact the last thing.

Here are some examples I found:

"A hidden gift discovered before Valentine’s Day that has disappeared but wasn’t given to you."

and

"Restaurant receipts or charge slips dated February 13,14,15 for meals that didn’t include you."

Bills, gifts, receipts, etc. Nothing surprising there. I was looking for something more sophisticated like "fails lie-detector test".

Come to think of it, where does someone find the companion guide "Is she trying to catch you cheating on her? 829 ways to hide the telltale signs"

AnonymousFebruary 14, 2006 10:19 AM

> So now I'm wondering why the RSA Conference is being held over Valentine's Day.

That's easy to answer. Are you bringing your wife or your girlfriend?

Mad PatterFebruary 14, 2006 10:35 AM

I don't remember who supposedly said this (Feynman?): You need to have a wife and a mistress, so that your wife will think you're off with your mistress, the mistress will assume you're home with your wife, and you can go to the lab and finally get some work done.

Also, here's an article from today's Washington Post (free reg. req.) that's similar to the WSJ article:
http://tinyurl.com/bkerf

marcoFebruary 14, 2006 10:47 AM

As humans we struggle in life between trust and fear. Survelliance technology would not buy us trust because technology is neutral in this balance, it could make things worst (trace your unfaithful) or better (send a love SMS message). Leaning toward fear makes life more difficult to control and technology also struggles in the balance. There is probably a reason why white list (positive assertion) is easier to implement than black list (negative assertion). The question probably is: are we more secure if we become more paranoic? Do we just increase the number of false positives? Probably the lesson that technology can learn from human is to use some heuristics to look for root vulnerabilities that break the "basic circles of trust".

jammitFebruary 14, 2006 11:10 AM

How dare these guys grab two women when I can't even find one? Oops. Too much information.
It seems funny to me that the cheaters are caught on Valentines day. On the surface it seems like a plausibility, but if I were a cheater I would use credit card/checks for my wife as a paper trail, and cash for my homewrecker. Split things up so it can't be traced to you. As an example, we had a robbery in our store a few years ago. Someone smashed the front window. The cops asked me if I had the keys and knew the alarm code. I had both key and code and they dismissed me as a suspect. Go figure.

Nell WaltonFebruary 14, 2006 12:25 PM

Home Evidence Collection Kit - Man that's just nasty. I'd almost rather deal with the infidelity that have to collect the "evidence." YUCK!!

Matthew SkalaFebruary 14, 2006 12:49 PM

Home Evidence Collection Kit - Man that's just nasty.

I find particularly offensive the fact that it's marketed to parents. That kind of surveillance of adults (and by definition, any child old enough to be voluntarily engaging in sex is an adult) ought to be illegal.

AnonymousFebruary 14, 2006 2:09 PM

>> I'd almost rather deal with the infidelity that have to collect the "evidence." YUCK!!

If the behavior wer so completely discreet so that nothing is visible in behavior toward the partner or general life, it becomes questionable as to what is gained by ripping everything open.

Ari HeikkinenFebruary 14, 2006 3:32 PM

Heh, anyone who's considering surveillance tools in their house to track their spouse has some serious issues. That'd probably be the time to break up.

Richard BraakmanFebruary 14, 2006 3:34 PM

Hmm. Putting the first two comments together gives an interesting result. I'd expect most people to score some false positives on the 829 signs. So someone who shows *none* of the signs has probably read the book and is avoiding them deliberately -- a telltale sign!

VickiFebruary 14, 2006 4:32 PM

Am I the only person who noticed that the private detective interviewed by the WSJ admitted to theft? (Stealing a card addressed to someone else from the addressee's car windshield--probably only a misdemeanor, since it wasn't in the US mail, but it is theft.)

For the record, I buy expensive chocolates for myself, my spouse, and my other sweeties (and my other sweetie's spouse). If anyone has a problem with that, they don't have to eat the chocolate.

stacyFebruary 14, 2006 5:22 PM

I would have to be buying the expensive chocolates for myself... my wife doesn't eat chocolates.

Paine Was OvergenerousFebruary 14, 2006 7:14 PM

@ marco
As humans we struggle in life between trust and fear. Survelliance technology would not buy us trust because technology is neutral in this balance

The big problem with surveilance technology is that most of it is being deployed by government and big business. Anyone who trusts either one of these very far has got bigger problems than "trust issues".

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.
Thomas Paine, Common-Sense

Davi OttenheimerFebruary 14, 2006 7:22 PM

"I'm a bit suprised that you encouraged 'cheaters' to read that book Bruce."

As if they would need any encouragement...they actually might be the primary buyers.

TankFebruary 14, 2006 7:36 PM

"I hope I don't need to remind you that cheaters should also be reading that book, familiarizing themselves with the 829 telltale signs they should avoid making."

#830 = Man buys copy of book about how to tell if a man is cheating.

LukasFebruary 14, 2006 8:51 PM

I agree that any relationship that requires this technology is probably doomed (and may indicate personal issues); but don't forget that proof of infidelity can be very profitable in divorce court in some places.

RobertFebruary 15, 2006 7:30 AM

Why pay for a private detective when you can call Joey Greco from "Cheaters" TV show and they'll do it for free?

Of course, there are downsides to this method...

KarenFebruary 15, 2006 1:48 PM

Why are we all assuming that the only cheaters are men? Or are we actually assuming either that only women would resort to these stealth tactics, or only men are dumb enough to leave a trail?!

ZwackFebruary 15, 2006 4:52 PM

I think the original is what gives it away Karen...

"author of a book called Is He Cheating on You?"

Not She, but He...

Everything before that in the blurb was gender neutral.

Z.

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