Rich S’porean wives hiring women to lure their own husbands
When some women find out about their husbands' infidelity, they 'give' the men another woman. NG JUN SEN (firstname.lastname@example.org) finds out more about honey trapping
You have a wife.
You also have a mistress.
And then comes a sweet, elegant and intelligent woman taking an interest in you as well. Even better, she seems to know what you like.
A perfect woman. You fall head over heels for her.
You forget that you already have a wife and a mistress. This perfect woman is your world now.
So enamoured are you by this new lover that your mistress soon leaves you, now that your attention is occupied elsewhere.
Then, for no reason, things start falling apart as this new perfect woman breaks up with you and leaves you twisting in the wind.
But through it all, your wife has stood by you.
So, you return to her, realising what "true" love is.
Here's the twist: this perfect woman is a clandestine agent hired by your wife.
She had been coached to seduce you, using information about you that only your wife knows.
Sounds like a TV drama? No, it happens here.
To save their marriages from extramarital affairs, Singaporeans have been paying five-figure sums to hire these agents.
The objective: To destroy the extramarital affair.
Yes, agents have been engaged by distraught husbands, too.
This scheme is known as honey trapping, say five private investigators (PIs) The New Paper on Sunday spoke to.
"It is not an advertised service. The request must come from the client," says Mr David Ng from DP Quest Private Investigation Consultancy.
"They usually know what they want. They would request a particular profile of a honey trapper that they want, specific to the preference of their cheating spouses."
Depending on the nature of the relationships, some clients prefer to have the honey trapper seduce the third party instead, says Mr Ng.
For both honey-trapping methods, the spouse would never know that the honey trapper is a hired agent.
TNPS understands that many honey trappers are sourced from foreign countries such as China, Bangladesh and East Europe.
Those with prior training in intelligence gathering are particularly prized, says a private investigator who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"Honey trappers are not just used for destroying extramarital affairs, they are also employed for corporate espionage purposes," he says.
But these honey trappers are on tourist visas and are not supposed to be working. So when asked, the PI firms denied ever engaging one but said they were familiar with the practice.
Says Mr James Loh from International Investigators, who gets one honey-trapping request every three months: "Apparently, clients learn about these methods from their friends or from movies and television shows."
But be warned if you are thinking of hiring honey trappers.
Not only are they expensive, but they are also not guaranteed to work.
Clients are charged around $5,000 per month for as long as the mission takes.
"The success rate is probably about 50 per cent. And if they still want to pursue the option, they must know that it could take many months and the fees will keep on adding up until the mission is complete," says Mr Loh, adding that such jobs normally cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Mr Ng says that in many cases, the infidelity resumes after the honey trapper completes his or her mission.
"There is also the possibility that the honey trapper may fall for the target. Whatever happens after the operation, I wouldn't know."
Not all PI firms we spoke to are willing to provide this service, even though they still receive such requests from well-heeled Singaporeans.
Mr Gilbert de Silva of SecureGuard says this could be illegal as these foreign agents might not be licensed to work for a PI or in a PI operation, and could also flout work permit laws.
He rejects clients when they ask for honey trappers and tells them he would offer them surveillance services instead.
Mr de Silva says: "Many of these cases involve complicated disputes between husband and wife, and the matter can get out of hand if the ploy is uncovered.
"It's not wise to risk the company's reputation on this."
Big money to be made in honey trapping
Ditching mistresses is big business in China.
Even Singaporeans have sought the services of these "mistress-dispelling" firms.
There, agencies hire teams of handsome gym instructors, counsellors, lawyers and investigators to provide a "holistic approach" in persuading the third party to leave, reported the South China Morning Post.
They help mistresses explore better life options in romance and careers, introducing them to new social circles and offering counselling if it is needed.
This is not new.
In 2011, TNPS ran a story on a Chinese PI who saves marriages by holding recordings and videos which could ruin the husband's career if made public.
The PI, Miss Zhang Yufen, says she accepts jobs from Singaporeans, too.
PIs here say some clients have inquired about such services, but they warn that these could be elaborate scams.
Often, it involves blackmailing, which is illegal here, says Mr S. M. Jegan, who has more than 32 years of experience as a PI.
The veteran PI from Kokusai Security also says: "It is not possible to verify if these so-called agencies have conspired with the mistresses.
"The mistress scene in China is very complex and the mistresses could be working hand in hand with these agencies.
"The agencies simply collect the money, pay off the mistresses and the client is none the wiser."
'They come to us when divorce is not an option'
ST FILE PHOTO
Rich women who are at their wits' end are the main rice bowl for honey trappers.
Mr James Loh (above), who has been in the PI business for 13 years, says: "They come to us with this idea because they have already decided that a divorce is not an option.
"All they want is for the affairs to end. These are usually tai tais who have too much to lose if they divorce."
The well-heeled women are the ones who can afford the exorbitant fees for something that works only half the time, he adds. Honey trapping can take up to half a year, with each month costing the client thousands of dollars.
Majority of clients requesting for honey trappers are women, says Mr David Ng of DP Quest Private Investigation Consultancy.
"Interestingly, men would rather opt for divorce if they find out that their wives have been seeing other people. They rarely hire a honey trapper."
Mr Ng reveals that four out of five of the cases he sees involve extramarital affairs and half of them end up in a divorce.
The cheating spouses are usually working professionals with the ability to support their affairs, says SecureGuard's Gilbert de Silva.
Some become "sugar daddies" to women they meet in karaoke lounges.
"These are people who are able to splash out thousands of dollars on KTV singers. We're talking about the big boys here, not the likes of you and me," says Mr de Silva.
"With that in mind, you get the idea how much money these men and their wives are willing to throw around."
Marriage counsellor sees more cases involving affairs
Hiring honey trappers to save marriages may have long-lasting negative effects.
Marriage counsellor Chang-Goh Song Eng has not dealt with cases involving honey trappers, but the head of Reach Counselling says: "It is a deceiving act and deceptions like that can remain in the marriage.
"The sheer weight of having to keep that secret may be too emotionally taxing."
But Mrs Chang-Goh admits that honey trapping may work out for some people.
"Such a method may seem necessary - had they any other way, they would have tried it.
"Simply put, it is a desperate attempt to save a marriage."
She says more couples are seeking counselling due to extramarital affairs. Around seven out of every 1,000 Singaporeans aged above 20 went through divorce last year, according to the latest data published in July.
Mrs Chang-Goh adds: "We started to see this trend two years ago. In 2013, one in five cases that came to our centres involved affairs.
"Today, that number has risen to one in three.
"It could be because more people are willing to come forward to seek help. In any case, it is a worrying trend."
In response, her organisation started a new programme for couples to resolve their differences and "affair-proof" their marriages.
Called Torn Asunder Affair Recovery Programme, participants undergo a structured 90-day recovery process that helps them heal from affairs.
Mrs Chang-Goh says: "It is a strict programme devised by an American counsellor and requires heavy commitment from the couple."
Couples need to attend between 10 to 14 one-hour sessions weekly, where they will meet a trained counsellor together.
"A straying spouse finds comfort out of marriage as the couple do not know how to meet their needs within marriage," she explains.
"Conflicts and cold wars inadvertently push partners into hands of third parties.
"Communication problems or the lack of emotional connection have to be sorted out."