Help us reach our campaign target: Become a member
The Bristol Cable

LISTEN: Private detective offers to spy on mobile phone


Audio released here for the first time: A private detective offering to sell confidential phone records.

In a recently published investigation, the Cable revealed the alarming services on offer by some private detective firms operating in Bristol.

Released here is an audio recording from a phone call with one private detective who offered to sell the reporter, masquerading as a jealous partner, his wife’s confidential phone records (transcript below).

The private investigator (PI) was contacted via a number listed on the website, which undercover Cable reporters called three times, each time posing as a different type of client. The website and other associated websites across the country appear to have been closed down since the initial investigation.


The PI said that he could “go into the service provider and look at numbers” dialed from the partner’s mobile phone and provide the confidential phone records for £650. “What you’re asking for is data protected obviously,” said the PI, adding that he could provide a list of outgoing calls from any mobile phone across any network: “It’s hard to get, but we’ll get it for you.”

It’s unclear how the PI in this case would “go into the service provider” to obtain the phone records. Elsewhere, PIs have been caught ‘blagging‘ – whereby expert mimics pretend to be the owner of the phone and ring up the service provider, who then innocently supply the data. ‘Blagging’ addresses, phone bills, bank statements and health records has been illegal since 1994.

The Association of British Investigators, a trade body that trains and regulates private investigators, told the Cable:

“The circumstances portrayed, whilst anecdotal, would appear to indicate unlawful activity. Were this to be more than speculation, then the matter should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement authority.”

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office – the independent authority upholding information rights – has said that the details uncovered in the Cable’s investigation “could help from an intelligence perspective”.





Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Police spies, broken lives and one of the UK’s longest-running public inquiries

A Bristol activist turned investigator explains how police spies infiltrated and disrupted left-wing groups over decades and even fathered children with unsuspecting activists. Undercover policing researcher Chris Brian traces the scandal which shook a generation of activists, as a public inquir...

Bristol Council questioned over social media ‘spying’

Councillors are asking whether the “surveillance”, which they say was “covert”, needed authorisation.

Artificial intelligence, robots, and the future of society: interview with Darren Jones

We are hurtling into a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’: an age of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and unparalleled automation in the workplace. Should we be worried? To find out, the Cable spoke to Darren Jones – one Bristol MP who is paying attention

Opinion: Bristol’s new phoneboxes could end up spying on you

Councillors should scrutinise plans to introduce phonebox replacements with potentially worrying surveillance capabilities.

National report slams police ‘digital stop and search’ following Cable investigation

Following a Bristol Cable investigation in 2017, charity Privacy International have today published a new report on the technology UK police forces are secretly using to download all the content and data from people’s phones.

Opinion: Surveillance Britain, nothing to fear? Think again

We need to act fast to defend our civil liberties or, like the frog in the pot, we could too late find ourselves in a very different climate.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning