Private eyes spy a rising market in the gold-digging male: Successful women are asking detectives to check on their boyfriends'

CAREER women have been identified by private investigation agencies as a lucrative new market.

Private detectives have long been used by wives for matrimonial investigations. But female high-flyers are now turning to agencies before marriage for checks on their boyfriends' bank balance, assets and sexual history.

The market for unmasking fortune hunters is becoming so profitable that Hodge Investigation Services of Cardiff now offers women pre-marital status reports starting at pounds 70. Most are requested by clients working as personal assistants or in finance or business. Up to four inquire a week.

Marika, an elegant 32-year-old Italian interpreter, asked for a report after meeting a man at a business convention. The 45-year-old managing director had wined and dined her in Cardiff three times a week. He had showed her pictures of his luxurious London flat. He had squired her in his BMW and bought her lingerie.

She became suspicious because he always paid for the meals and presents in cash, avoided giving her his telephone number and never invited her home. When he proposed marriage she asked Hodge Investigation Services to confirm his story. Checks at Companies House revealed that he had no connection with the limited company he purported to run. Others showed he did not own a flat - he had shown Marika estate agents' particulars. He was an undischarged bankrupt, which was why he always paid in cash, and a chauffeur, hence his expensive car.

The demand for such checks reflects the growing status of working women, according to Caroline Hodge, who runs the agency. 'More and more are putting their emotional life on hold while they establish themselves in their profession. By the time they're looking for marriage they're in their thirties with perhaps pounds 20,000 equity on their flat, savings, or inherited wealth.'

Mrs Hodge's investigations have turned up former wives, secret children and other girlfriends. The worst involved telling a middle- aged woman that her fiance had been having a relationship with another man since late childhood.

David Roberts, who works for British Detection in Preston, is also doing an increasing number of pre- marital status reports. 'They're for middle-aged women in the Northwest with grown-up children and mundane jobs, living in their own house,' he said. 'They're worried that their boyfriend will move in and they'll never get rid of him. They'll say he never uses credit cards and drives a rented car. But by the time they approach me they're usually on the way to the truth.'

Career women are most often targeted at clubs, particularly in London, according to Peter Heims of the Association of British Investigators. 'People do this virtually as a career. They meet somebody with money who clubs, they're charming, they pick their victim and make sure they meet them accidentally. Then it goes from there.'

Women may be taking the initiative in unmasking gold-diggers. But they do not always leave them when the truth comes out. 'When we find something bad the women won't take any advice at all. They just carry on,' Mr Heims said.

'One of my clients had a lot of money and was being courted by a chappie who said he was a colonel. We found out he lived off women and spent all their money by setting up in business. He'd done it to three already. When we got the report we told her to drop him like hot cakes. She gave it to him] He came to the office threatening to punch me through the wall. I told him: 'You know it's true, and I know it's true. So eff off.' He took her money, of course.'

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Patient Advisor / Treatment Assistant

£13520 - £19520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's market leader in Refra...

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Business Development B2B - Year 1 OTE £25,000

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Several opportunities to join t...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Administrator

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a small, busy team s...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works