Local News

Aug 26, 2013 6:12 PM by Janine Reyes

Local Victim's Advocates Worry About Cell Phone Spyware Similar to Boyfriend Tracker

CORPUS CHRISTI -- Google Play recently removed a controversial app from it's store; the Boyfriend Tracking App is now off the market in Brazil.

It basically turned a cell phone into a spy, watching the target's every move.

But, that's not the only app of it's kind. Spyware is available on every smartphone and every platform. Most claim to help track down cheating partners.

For victims of abuse, this can be very dangerous.

"I often wonder how many women this is happening to that they're not even aware of," Paulette Maier, Senior Counselor at the Women's Shelter of South Texas wondered when we asked her about the problem.

Although the newest app to make headlines is called Boyfriend Tracker, there's no shortage of spyware for cheating partners of either gender.

Maier is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works at the shelter and she tells us, in the hands of an abuser, these apps are very dangerous.

"If this is someone that's an abuser, and they want to know where you're at who you're with, what you're doing, and they're able to log on their phone and find your location, this could be a life or death situation," said Maier.

It's control they can gain in just minutes with your cell phone, some apps claim you can remotely install them by sending a text.

"Somebody can see what your phone is seeing, listen to any conversations just because you have your cell phone on you," said Adela Garcia, Community Educator for the Women's Shelter.

So we decided to put one of those apps to the test, using one phoen set up to be tracked by another one. We're handed it to some of our crew and just send them driving around the block, to see what it showed us.

As they drove, we watched.

It showed us some of the locations they've been in, not exact and in real time, but we could tell generally where that phone had been traveling.

We should mention that app was free. We paid $15 for another app that allowed a lot more spying options. It also tells you how to hide that app, so the other person will have no idea they're being tracked.

At the Women's Shelter, the staff always suggests clients disable their GPS. That provides some safety.

But, in some cases, they say it may be best to get an entirely new phone and keep that number and your passwords secret.

"We have donated phones that we hand out, where the service has been turned off that will still dial out 911," said Maier.

Here's what's really scary about that $15 app. It can send you hourly reports that include the cell phone users location, text message log, even what websites they've visited.

We could even get a live location by simply texting a secret code to the phone.

All that for only $15..

The women's shelter tells us, if your partner demands your password, that's a big red flag. And, if you find an app like this on your phone, and you did not authorize it, that is a case of stalking.

If you or someone you know is in this situation, call their hotline at 881-8888.

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