Sky News: Domestic Abuse Victims Warned Over Presents

Abusers will go to great lengths to hide cameras or listening devices inside gifts such as mobiles, laptops and toys, say experts.

By Martin Brunt, Crime Correspondent

Victims of domestic abuse are being warned to beware of Christmas gifts containing hidden spyware.

Abusers will hide cameras or listening devices inside presents such as mobile phones, laptops and toys to snoop on their targets, say campaigners.

Jennifer Perry, CEO of Digital-Trust, which helps victims of digital abuse, said: "Surveillance technology is getting cheaper, better disguised, simpler to use and easier to find.

"We work with a range of domestic violence professionals who are telling us that digital abuse is making it much more difficult to help women and keep them safe."

She said new smartphones given by a possessive spouse could include an app that can turn on the microphone remotely and eavesdrop on their partner's conversations.

Emma, a woman with a jealous and controlling partner, said: "I had been out having coffee with a friend and when I returned he played back part of our conversation.

"I couldn't figure out how he had done it.

"Had he hired someone to follow me? Did he bug the cafe? It was my domestic violence case worker who told me to check my phone.

"I found he had put spyware on my phone and had been listening and reading my texts for months."

Digital-Trust said listening devices can be hidden in everyday products such as extension cords, phone chargers and carbon monoxide detectors, all of which will function normally.

It said the new Paddington Bear movie will promote sales of a voice-activated Paddington Bear recorder, which could become popular with people who want to spy on their partners or have shared custody of children.

"An abuser can send the bear home with the child and then during their next visit the abuser can listen to the recordings and charge the battery," Ms Perry warned.

"Add a small tracking chip in the bear and the abuser will also be able to track the child and its mother."

The trust offers advice for anyone who suspects they are being monitored at

BBC: Spyware use in domestic violence 'escalating'

The Independent: Gifts used by cyberstalkers and abusers to spy on and track victims, say campaigners