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Steve Lake

Steve Lake

Posted: December 20, 2010 04:19 PM

Here's a bit of last minute Christmas shopping tip: If your think your spouse is cheating on you, buy him or her a fancy smartphone and put it under the tree.

Android, iPhone, BlackBerry - any one will do.

They're all perfect for catching a committed partner with a wandering eye or a penchant for "sexting" - that's sexy texting for short - with someone else.

We all know smart phones often are at the center of celebrity cheating scandals in the tabloids. Jesse James, Tony Parker, and of course Tiger Woods, are now all split from their beautiful brides after being outed as cads thanks to dirty messages allegedly found on their cell phones.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame "Kwame Sutra" Kilpatrick got busted having an extramarital affair with a staff member, was ousted from City Hall and sent to jail for lying about it.

US Weekly covers have been filled with details of troubled romances rocked by cheating evidence left on smart phones - reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian and boyfriend Scott Disick, Demi Moore and husband Ashton Kutcher, and Nicole Ritche and fiancé Joel Madden among them.

Getting caught with a phone full of incriminating evidence isn't a new trend, but it's a growing one. And it's one of the few ways that celebrities are a lot like the rest of us.

Bill Gates rightly predicted in his 1995 book, The Road Ahead that we will live "documented lives... subject to third party review and scrutiny."

In 2009, about 21 percent of Americans had smart phones, and by 2011, the Nielsen Company expects half of America to be using smart phones.

And a study commissioned by online gadget site Retrevo.com found that 38 percent of people under age 25 had "snooped" on their significant other's texts or e-mails. About 10% of that age group who "snooped" found their lover was unfaithful.

About 36 percent of married couples of all ages said they check emails or call histories without their partner's knowledge. Only 3% of the "married" group discovered they were being cheated on, according to the study.

Over the years, I've represented plenty of clients whose partner' secret lives have been, well, exposed by their BlackBerry.

In court, an electronic trail of cheating left on a smart phone could end up being important evidence. And trust me, it isn't just text messages, emails and pictures left on a smart phone that we're looking for.

There's certainly too much to write in a single blog about the wealth of information that can be found on a smart phone. Mining smart phones for data is certainly an evergreen topic in my office, and I'm sure it will come up again in this blog.

But here are a few things a divorce attorney like me will be looking for on a smart phone, if necessary.

  • Deleted text messages aren't lost forever. Instead, the message is coded so that a new message can take its place. But until that happens, the message remains on the phone. There are cell phone forensic specialists for hire to crack those codes.

  • SIM card reading devices that are a lot like computer hard drive recovery programs - called SIM card spies - are available for about 100 bucks at places including Best Buy and Amazon.com. The device makes it easy to restore "deleted" messages.

  • Cellular phone carriers can be subpoenaed for records. In former Mayor Kilpatrick's case, the subpoena of his city issued pager produced 14,000 sultry text messages that led to his ouster.

  • Your smart phone is also a tracking device that can offer the real-time locations of where messages are sent from, or even where a person is when they're not using the device.

  • Information provided by "spying" applications that are available specifically for mobile phones. These apps allow a curious spouse to monitor text messages, emails and other information sent from a smart phone.

So if you're suspicious of your spouse this holiday season remember the smart phone - it's the perfect gift to catch a dummy.