06:42 GMT07 July 2020
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    An "evasive and dishonest" British man is facing jail after spying on his former lover by concealing hidden listening devices in her home. It's just the latest example of a burgeoning criminal phenomenon - one members of the security services have themselves been guilty of.

    Wayne Bamford, 47, mounted a stalking campaign after being dumped by his Joanna Dawson, a single mother of one. Their relationship in May 2016, launching an accident management business together within six months — but the relationship broke down quickly thereafter, ending January 2017.

    Not taking his spurning lying down, Bamford went on to launch a "highly sophisticated" spying plot, secreting two small spying devices in her home, which he could call via mobile in order to ‘tap in' to any discussions or activities taking place in the residence at any time. This he did a whopping 1,600 times at least over 15 days from March 1 to March 16 2017 alone.


    However, his one-man mass-surveillance operation was scuppered before long, arousing Dawson's suspicious due to his own shocking lack of subtlety.

    "He played me a recording in my own house and told me he'd paid someone to place a device on the outside of my house which I didn't believe. I went to a spy shop in Leeds [which] sells surveillance devices. I asked them, 'if I wanted to bug someone's house, what do I do?'. He told me I could use some extensions leads and plug adapters. He told me what to look for," Dawson testified.

    © CC0 / Pixabay

    She duly found a twin dual adapter plug in her bedroom next to her bedside cabinet that had a small hole in it — experts revealed it was a listening device, and Bamford was arrested and bailed. However, his brush with the law did nought to deter his activities — in fact, Dawson stated his "behavior escalated", and "got worse".

    Bamford began to comment directly and frequently on her movements, for instance informing her "there's no need to change your locks" via text message after she contacted a locksmith. Subsequent searches of Dawson's home revealed another device secreted behind a television, and Bamford was arrested again.

    Significant Sentence

    On trial, Bamford pleaded guilty to stalking causing serious alarm or distress, but claimed he was only responsible for planting one device, and Dawson installed the convert cameras herself to keep tabs on her ex-partner, following an acrimonious split after ten years.

    However, Bamford's allegations were sharply rejected by court recorder Anthony Hawks, who said he was "evasive and dishonest".

    "I find the complainant entirely plausible. I totally reject [Bamford's] account. I'm very concerned about the risk you may present to people. It goes without saying there can be little more terrifying for somebody to find out they're being listened to in their own home, the one place entitled to feel safe. This is an inevitable prison sentence. I regard these offences extremely serious and highly sinister," he said.

    Bamford was granted bail and will be sentenced on October 19.

    Spies Spying

    The irresistible proliferation of technology has meant ever-more — and ever-cheaper — surveillance provisions on offer to average citizens. Often, these resources have reached proverbial supermarket shelves after being used by actual spies for years.

    Perhaps accordingly, there are several documented examples of intelligence service employees using professional resources to spy on their current and former romantic interests. It's a practice dubbed LOVEINT, a perverse play on common intelligence terminology such as COMINT, HUMINT and SIGINT.

    In 2013, the Edward Snowden leaks revealed the NSA had uncovered 12 LOVEINT incidents in its own ranks. Despite the illegality of such activities, none of the individuals involved were prosecuted — seven simply resigned while disciplinary processes were ongoing, while the rest received letters of reprimand, were demoted, had pay docked or faced other meagre punishments.

    In one particularly egregious instance, between 1998 and 2003, an employee listened to the phone conversations of nine different women — caught when a woman he was sleeping with cottoned on to the con and notified authorities, he resigned before further disciplinary action could be brought. 

    In another, in 2011 a female staffer used Agency surveillance facilities to ‘vet' boyfriends in advance and ensure they weren't "shady characters". She also resigned before she could be disciplined.

    In 2004, an employee admitted she'd spied on call audio to and from a foreign telephone number she discovered in her husband's cellphone, as she suspected he was being unfaithful. She likewise resigned.

    Finally, on his first day of access to the NSA's surveillance system, another employee spied on his ex-partner's six email addresses. When promptly caught, he claimed he "wanted to practice on the system" and opted to use those email addresses. He was demoted, assigned 45 days of extra work, lost half his pay for two months, and was denied a security clearance.


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    stalking, NSA Surveillance, spying scandal, spying, spies, NSA spying, surveillance, National Security Agency (NSA), United States, United Kingdom
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