updated 18 Feb 2014, 05:59
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Mon, Jan 13, 2014
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$50,000 bill to spy on lover over CNY period
by Zul Othman

The client wanted someone to keep tabs on his mistress at one of the integrated resorts here.

But the boss of the private investigating (PI) company had a problem. It was the Chinese New Year holidays and all his investigators were away.

The client in his 60s, a high roller, was insistent.

Said Mr Lawrence Koh, 46, the managing director of SK Investigation Services: "He said he would pay us more. So I recalled all my PIs from their holidays, compensated those who had already made plans with their families, and had to book hotels to do our surveillance."

The job came at a cost to the client.

The total bill for nine days of surveillance came up to a whopping $50,000, said Mr Koh.

But the case, which happened two years ago, is an exception, just like the recent case involving a dentist who spent $55,000 to gather evidence to support a divorce from her husband bill to spy on lover over CNY period whom she suspected of having affairs with two women.

While 10 agencies contacted by The New Paper said they have seen a rise in the number of people hiring PIs to keep track of their spouses, they also said the prices are rarely astronomical.

Said Mr Koh, who has been a private investigator since 1988 and deals with at least 15 infidelity cases each month: "Since I started my firm in 2004, we've only had three cases of clients being charged up to $50,000."

Most of these cases cost between $3,000 and $4,000 for a week's work, said Mr Koh.

Agreeing, Mr David Kang, a manager at SG Investigators, told TNP: "We work up to 30 hours for each package and this cost also covers trips made regionally."

"But if there are trips to faraway places, then the client will have to pay more," said Mr Kang, who has been a PI for 12 years. His firm gets about 10 such cases a year, starting from about three years ago.

PIs here said customers should not expect their work to come cheap.

After all, their work involves tailing their suspects everywhere, from the swankiest establishments to budget hotels in Chinatown and Geylang.

And no matter the location, they employ the latest gadgets - anything from the latest cameras to tiny spycams hidden inside key chains - to photograph their subjects.

"People also forget that what we do is time-consuming," said another PI who declined to be identified.

"For example, I've trailed men and women who meet outdoors because they don't want to be registered in a hotel and be captured by CCTV cameras." PI work often involves painstakingly recording the suspect's activities in detail.

"Getting the right and relevant information is not always easy," said the PI.

Mr Koh agreed: "Our job is to collect the evidence that the client wants.

"But we don't go on charging even if it the client cannot afford it.

"All PI companies have suitable plans to suit their requirements."

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» Wife spent $55,000 to spy on husband

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