Smartphones Are Used to Stalk

Detective Brian Hill with the sheriff’s office in Anoka County, Minn., gives me a crash course on one popular brand called mSpy. It costs about $70 for a month or $200 for a year. “Very cheap, considering what it can do,” he says.

MSpy is easy to install. The stalker just needs a few minutes alone with the smartphone of the person being stalked. So when they’re in the shower, just say: “Hey, honey, I need to use your phone. Tell me the passcode!”

Then, Hill shows me how it works on a smartphone that he’s hacked: “It tells you to go to the settings, go to the security and the screen lock, and then tells you to check the box for unknown sources.”

MSpy has a step-by-step guide — with screenshots — on how to download the app onto an iPhone or Android device, how to activate it, and then how to delete any visible trace of it. It’ll just hang out in a hidden folder, with a nondescript name like “Android.sys.” If someone happened to find it, they’d just see the iconic green Android robot and think it’s part of the phone’s operating system. The app also uses less data than basic text messaging services like WhatsApp, “so mSpy stays under the radar that way,” Hill explains.

Now the stalker can monitor the person being stalked, from the website of the spyware company. Hill goes to his laptop and logs into his mSpy account. There’s a really nice dashboard to organize all the information you’re grabbing — and it’s a lot of information, like contacts, call logs, text messages, call recordings (full recordings of entire conversations), photos, video files, and a log of every website visited by the person being stalked.

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