On a recent episode of the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney Kardashian tells her sister Kim she has her boyfriend’s old phone. “Have you gone through it?” Kim asks Kourtney excitedly. What’s the point, Courtney wants to know. “What do you mean what is the point?” Kim asks. “You want to know what your boyfriend is up to.” Then, speaking directly to the camera, Kim proudly says, “I can break into any phone, can get any code, can get into any voice mail.” She’s not the only phone-email snooper out there. One of the main characters on the show Entourage just dropped a woman who listened to one of his phone messages when he was in the shower.
Ali Wise, a stunning 32-year-old New Yorker, was arrested in July on felony charges of computer trespass and eavesdropping after allegedly hacking into the voice mail of Nina Freudenberger, an interior designer and socialite. Hacking “isn’t the sort of crime that normally comes to mind when you think of a pretty young publicist who attends glam parties on a nightly basis,” says Remy Stern, founder of Cityfile, a gossip website that has followed the story. “It was a little more juicy because she wasn’t accused of hacking into her boyfriend’s voice mail; the victim was another woman . . . who may have been involved with an ex-boyfriend of hers.”
Wise used software called SpoofCard to hack into the voice mail. The SpoofCard can be bought online and, according to information on the product’s website, “offers the ability to change what someone sees on their caller ID display when they receive a phone call.” You simply dial SpoofCard’s toll-free number or local access number in your country and then enter your PIN (like a calling card). What comes up on a person’s phone is a number that’s not yours.
The SpoofCard is meant to be used, mostly it seems, for crank calls and for other times people want to hide their number. But, obviously, it’s being misused. The Internet is rife with information about how to break into someone’s voice mail using a SpoofCard. “I’ll tell you how,” writes one snooper. “Call up SpoofCard and when they ask you to enter the number you want to show [up] on the caller ID, you enter your boyfriend’s number. When they ask you to enter the number you want to call, you enter your boyfriend’s number again, and, bingo, you’ll get into his messages. This works because it tricks the cellphone to think the cell is calling into the voice message system.” The deviousness doesn’t end there. “Now remember,” another writes, “when you get into the voice message, you must quickly change the password so you can always access the voice mail messages.”
According to a friend of Wise’s, when the police asked her if she had used a SpoofCard, her answer was, “Of course I used a SpoofCard.” It was as if they had asked a meat lover if they ate steak.
Wise stepped down from her job at Dolce & Gabbana, and has become fodder for New York gossip rags. But to some women she’s become, if not a hero, at least relatable. Movie producers have begged to option her story.
On a recent night out, five women laughed at stories of breaking into men’s voice mails. “I would wait until he went into the shower,” said one, “and I would manically try and figure out his password.” Another admitted that for years she has broken into her boyfriend’s, and ex-boyfriend’s, email and voice mail accounts. “It’s really not that hard. Men are stupid. If you know their Interac password, that’s generally their code for all their other PDAs,” she said. One woman is so skilled at figuring out passwords, she can hear someone type in the phone digits, and from the tones of the numbers, figure out the code. “I want to see if they’re up to no good,” she laughs.
Obviously, serial snooping isn’t just for the rich and famous. The founder of Toronto-based Blue Star Investigations Inc. International, Allen Brik, has been a private detective for 15 years. He says this kind of invasion of privacy has exploded in the past five years. “It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly doable.” It’s strictly illegal, he says, and shouldn’t be done, “but people want to know they can trust someone. They’re not thinking with their heads about right or wrong.”
Brik agrees that men “don’t often change their password. They usually use their date of birth or their middle names. Women are more creative.” (He hasn’t changed any of his passwords in 12 years.) It’s not only females who snoop, he says, but the majority are women. “I think it comes down to men cheating more.”
A judge could turn Wise’s case, due in court in October, into an “example” à la Paris Hilton’s jail stint. “I do hope that no prison time is involved,” says Stern. “A much better punishment would be to require her to have those godawful orange jumpsuits worn by American prisoners redesigned by Dolce & Gabbana. That might make it all worth it.”