Cell Phone Spying

Tuesday, April 22nd 2008, 6:08 pm
By: News On 6

Cell phones are essential for most of us; they're a life line to work, family and friends, but could they be used to spy on you? Last fall, News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright introduced us to a woman being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. She was convinced he was using her cell phone to learn things about her that were private. Her idea seemed far-fetched and police were stumped, but The News On 6 did some digging and found out that anyone can listen to your conversations, read your text messages and even turn the phone into a microphone.  News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports cell phone spies can take control of your cell phone from anywhere and you would never know.

Cell phones let us keep in touch, check email, exchange messages and be connected to the world. Who would ever think it could be turned against you?

Carla Robinson's ex-boyfriend has stalked her for three years. Nobody could figure out how he was able to track her every move, her every conversation, especially when he was often out of state.

The FBI even checked her car for bugs, but, found none, but The News On 6 discovered how he could have turned her cell phone into a high-tech snooping device. Robinson allowed The News On 6 to download the software onto her cell phone.

The News On 6 asked Robinson and a friend to talk over coffee. Robinson was not using her cell phone, it was just sitting nearby.

"When we first started filing reports on this, cops told us there was nothing illegal about what he was doing because the laws are so far behind the technology," said electronic stalking victim, Carla Robinson.

The entire conversation between Carla Robinson and her friend was heard through the microphone on Robinson's cell phone, and she has no way of knowing.

As long as they talk they can be heard. It doesn't matter where you are, you can be miles away or even out of state.

"Knowing there is this capability is pretty scary, pretty scary. Yes, it is," said Robinson.

A person can also hear Robinson's actual phone calls. The News On 6 had her call her mom, those nearby can only hear Robinson's side of the conversation, but The News On 6 could hear both.

"Did you remember what you were going to tell me," Robinson asked her mother over her cell phone.

"Oh, I talked to Lonnie and he didn't have much to say. He and Brittany have been so busy with the baby. I have pictures," Robinson's mother responded.

Robinson was talking to her mother, who was in south Tulsa, and we could hear every part of their conversation. The News On 6 played the conversation back for Robinson to hear, while Robinson was shocked, she was also relieved to know she wasn't crazy and hopes now, she'll be believed.

"I really hope now that you've uncovered this that they'll start taking this stuff serious and change some of the laws," said electronic stalking victim, Carla Robinson.

Another use of this software would be parents monitoring all their kids' text messages, calls and conversations. Evin and her cousin text each other about sneaking out and drinking beer. The News On 6 immediately got a copy of the entire text conversation. One check of a computer and a parent could read every word. The same is true if they're just sitting around talking, thinking the conversation is private. The two are not on the phone, it's just nearby. But again, everything can be heard; distance doesn't matter.

What if you wanted to know everything your boss was up to, even behind closed doors? The software gives you access to all kinds of secrets.

Things that used to be confidential, no longer are. This type of electronic spying breaks state and federal laws, but proving it can be tough.

"The problem is proving a particular person did it, a particular person placed that software on the computer. Just proving it is a problem," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Tim Stadler with the Cyber Crimes Unit.

More information about electronic spying is available on our interactive cell phone.  You can make your selections by clicking on the "view interactive link."