Private detective Ali Marsh tells us what her job is really like, what it entails and also shares some tips on how to tell if your partner is betraying your trust…
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Ali Marsh, 54, is never surprised to hear about the recent celebrity infidelity scandal. Most of her work – running a private investigative agency – comes from suspect spouses. And while the reality of being a PI may not be everything you see on TV, it has proven satisfying and rewarding for Ali.
Here she tells us what her job is really like and shares some tips on how to tell if your partner is betraying your trust…
One of my earliest cases was a man who thought his wife had started acting cold towards him. Every Wednesday night she would go out and come home much happier, so he suspected she was cheating on him.
I started monitoring her, watching her come and go for a couple of Wednesdays. I noticed that her neighbor also went out at the same time on a Wednesday. I followed him and soon discovered they were having an affair.
The client was distraught, of course, but like all my clients whose spouses have been unfaithful, knowing that he was right to be suspicious allowed him to come to terms with what was happening and move on with his life.
Every single one of my clients who came to me with suspected infidelity was absolutely right. I think deep down they know their spouses are having an affair but have been told many times they are wrong, even paranoid. It’s good for them to be able to say, “No, I’m not imagining it, and here’s the proof.”
I first became interested in investigative work when I was stabbed by an addict who was after money to buy drugs. At first I tried to argue with him but he lunged at me so I threw my bag at him and he ran into a dark alley.
I was shocked but also interested in what drives people to become criminals. In addition to my work with older people with dementia, I have started a distance learning course in criminal psychology.
Then when my father died a few years ago, I missed him so much that I found it hard to be around older people, so I decided it was time to change course.
I enrolled in courses in criminology, forensics and criminal psychology and four years later, at the age of 50, opened my own private investigative agency, Miss AM Investigations.
Crack my first case
My first case was a man who had moved out of the family home but suspected another man was living in the home. His wife denies it. I was monitoring something, saw a man come out of the house several mornings and was able to provide my client with the evidence he needed.
I also learned a good lesson from that first case. I had dash cam footage to show the client but didn’t realize it contained audio as well. So while he viewed the harrowing evidence of his wife’s infidelity, I was in the background shouting abuse at traffic and singing along to Dolly Parton!
Surveillance is not what it is portrayed on TV. It is very boring. You are on your own with no one to talk to to pass the time. Although sometimes I listen to a podcast or music, there is nothing else you can do in case you miss what you came for. No need to scroll or take a walk on your phone. You also need a very strong bladder.
Once I had to duck behind a bush with my camera to avoid someone I was trying to catch in the act. That’s the closest I got to it.
I always take a dog leash and photos of a dog with me when I work. So if anyone asks why I’m hanging around here I can say I’m looking for a dog. It’s a trick of an experienced private detective!
The first thing I do with a new case is work online. Everyone leaves an online footprint, even if they don’t believe it. I am also licensed to access certain data as an investigator.
I’ve often put a tracker on a car to see if a pattern is emerging – you couldn’t monitor someone every day of the week because it would be too expensive for the customer.
I usually track for a week, and if they go to a home address for example two weeks in a row on the same day, I can ask the customer if they know anyone who lives there. If they don’t, I’ll start monitoring and then I can provide the video or photo evidence they need.
I charge £70 an hour and the longest it has ever taken me to solve an adultery case was three weeks. It’s often much shorter.
About 50% of my work involves adultery and I have as many men as women asking for help.
I usually keep in touch afterwards because clients often feel devastated when it is confirmed to them that their spouse cheated on them. Men often seem to have a harder time because their egos have taken a hit.
I also help with missing person searches and have a 98% success rate which makes me very proud. I once found a little boy’s missing father which was a nice result and I also helped a father from USA to find his daughter.
A ghostwriter received royalties on a book he co-wrote with someone after I tracked them down. It took quite a while, but I found the daughter of the woman in question and the author got the money he was due.
I recently helped a woman who suspected her husband was cheating. It turned out that he had had several affairs, but in the course of my research I found out that he had secretly started a company. This helped her financially when she divorced him.
My family supports my work but doesn’t ask too many questions. And sometimes I have to be suspicious myself. I ask every customer to email me exactly what they need and if they expect me to do something that blurs the lines then I refuse to help. One case I happily turned down was a man who wanted me to track down his ex-fiancé to get back the ring he gave her. He said it was a family heirloom but my gut told me something was wrong so I said I couldn’t help him.
The police later contacted me. They had found my details on the man’s laptop. He had planned to kill his ex and even hired a hitman. He’s in prison now and I’m glad I trusted my intuition.
I want to help remove the stigma surrounding my work. There’s nothing shoddy or illegal about private investigations. I see it as a force for good and it’s the most satisfying job I’ve ever done.
Recognize the signs of infidelity
- Being with someone new is like a fresh start. Watch out for changes in their appearance, such as B. hairstyle or clothing.
- Notice any change in routine. Are you suddenly going out more often?
- If you’ve avoided the gym for 20 years and suddenly start lifting weights, that’s a red flag for a possible affair.
- If they get calls and leave the room to answer them, or start taking their phones into the bathroom or other places in the house they haven’t before, that could be a red flag.
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