Has a jealous lover hired hackers to get into your e-mail?

Two Arkansas men face charges for allegedly running a business that helps the suspicious but loving pry into their partner's e-mails.

The heart can work in difficult ways. Cookies Cupcakes and Cardio/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

On seeing a happy, loving couple my first reaction is always one of teary admiration. My second, which arrives very quickly, is sniffy suspicion.

"Can they really be this happy?" I wonder. "How is it possible after 18 months? Aren't they bored of each other yet? She's a lot better-looking than he is, so, well, at least one of her eyes must wander." These are just some of the life-addled thoughts that pass into my consideration.

I was moved, therefore, to hear that last week federal prosecutors charged two Arkansas men for allegedly helping suspicious lovers secure their partners' e-mail passwords.

As Mother Jones reported on Tuesday, Mark Anthony Townsend and Joshua Alan Tabor are said to have created a site called Needapassword.com. There's a version of it here.

This site was allegedly so successful that it managed to obtain 6,000 passwords and pass them on to the potentially outraged. The fee per password was anything between $50 and $300, reported Mother Jones.

The technique allegedly used to allay lovers' fears -- or exacerbate them -- was spear fishing. Yes, they allegedly sent bogus e-mails in the hope that the recipient would trust the sender and hand over personal information.

Both Townsend and Tabor were charged with a felony violation that carries a potential prison sentence of five yeas.

Those who have been hurt in love -- or had their lovers guess their passwords and then pour over their most intimate e-mail details -- will be fascinated by one element of this tale.

The police aren't just going after people who do the hacking, like Townsend and Tabor, they're also going after people who pay money to spy on those supposedly closest to them. As part of the crack down on e-mail hacking Web sites, federal prosecutors also charged three other Americas last week with paying computer hackers in other nations between $1,011 and $21,675 to obtain e-mail account passwords. These customers each face up to one year in federal prison.

Amateur psychologists would suggest that forking over $300 to Needapassword.com to spy on your lover is an indication of a terrible relationship.

However, we love professionals know that sometimes you fall for the wrong person. Sometimes you allow yourself to be fooled by the twisted, the tortured, or the simply mendacious.

Sometimes, your heart says: "yes, yes, yes," while your head screams: "look at Philomena's lying eyes, and her smile, it's a thin disguise." Once you're deep in that chasm of pleasure and pain, you'll try anything to confirm your greatest fears.

It isn't right, of course. But if governments and Google can spy on your e-mails, you can imagine that crazed lovers are tempted to do the same.

 

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