Fighting the unfaithful

By Global Times Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2015-7-20 20:58:01

Consultants threaten, seduce to drive away mistresses

Photo: IC

Zheng Yi, of Wuhan, Hubei Province, has been dubbed the "mistress killer" online. But he's not a serial murderer. Rather, he's taken up the cause of defending marriages against affairs - through any means necessary.

Zheng, who started off as a debt collector, has provided free consultations to women who discover that their husbands are having extramarital affairs, for 15 years, the Wuhan Evening News reported on Wednesday. His job is to "persuade" mistresses to leave husbands and save marriages.

Zhang is not alone.

In China, as the divorce rate grows, marriage consultancies are becoming common, with many of them providing similar services to help heartbroken wives drive other women away from their unfaithful husbands. These businesses are unregulated - they exist in a legal "grey zone" of threats, extortion, and prying into personal data.

'Mistress killers'

Zheng started to provide such services in 2000 when a woman came to his debt collecting agency and asked for his help to drive her husband's mistress away.

The woman, surnamed Zhang, ran a store in Wuhan and had two children. Zhang discovered her husband's affairs but she did not want to divorce him.

Zheng asked Zhang to figure out who her husband had been sending money to in order to collect evidence of his extramarital affairs. Then, Zheng and Zhang revealed the affair to the mistress' employer and her parents. The mistress finally left Zhang's husband and Zhang was able to go back to her "normal life."

The case inspired Zheng and he began to believe these women need "professional consultants" when their marriage faces a"mistress crisis."

Zheng also helps his clients deal with financial problems. His team includes a phycologist, a lawyer and a private detective.

Zhang will not reveal how many cases he has handled in the past 15 years or what payment he receives. But he is not the only such "mistress killer."

A 57-year-old woman Zhang Yufen, who has been given the same nickname, started to help wives collect evidence and search for mistresses some 20 years ago after her husband was unfaithful. She said that she receives as many as 167 phone calls asking for her help every day, the Nandu Daily reported in April. Like Zheng, her initial consultations are free.

Zhang helps wives check their husbands' phone call records, tail them and even catch adulterers in the act, the report said.

Extramarital affairs, which used to be regarded as private family issues, are getting more attention from the public in recent years as corrupt officials often keep multiple mistresses.

According to one research, 95 percent of the officials who were investigated for corruption have at least one mistress, Procuratorial Daily, a newspaper under the Supreme People's Procuratorate, reported in January 2013.

Zhang Yufen became famous after reportedly revealing the 17 mistresses of an unidentified railway official.

Growing trade

A report released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs recently showed that around 3.6 million Chinese couples got divorced in 2014, up 3.9 percent year-on-year. The divorce rate  has steadily risen in the 12 years since 2003.

Advertisements for "driving mistress away" services can be easily found on the Internet.

Several such agents reached by a Global Times reporter who posed as a client via a social network, said that they design special plans for each client and the price one must pay depends on the level of difficulties.

"We will evaluate the case first. If the mistress can leave your husband in one or two months, the solution may cost about 50,000 yuan. But if the case is more difficult, the cost can be up to 400,000 yuan," a staff member surnamed Huang, from a Beijing-based agency, told the Global Times. "It is not cheap but we still have many clients as they believe the cost is less than what their husbands or wives spent on their lovers."

Huang also claimed that their "success rate" is over 90 percent and they have solved more than 100 cases in the last year.

Other agencies also gave similar promises when reached by the Global Times. These agencies said that they would collect evidence of extramarital affairs and then negotiate with the mistresses.

"Sometimes, persuading the mistresses to leave could take a year or more. If clients want to solve the case quickly, we can use some 'special measures,' such as hiring good-looking guys to seduce the mistress and forcing her to leave the husband," a staff member from a Shanghai-based marriage consulting agency told the Global Times. 

Unlicensed private detectives commonly use phone hacking and in-person surveillance to collect evidence and then threaten these allegedly unfaithful wives and husbands, the Beijing Evening News reported in 2011.

However, the business is still in a gray area legally as China banned private detective agencies in 1993 and some measures they use may violate the law.

Zhang Yanfeng, a lawyer with Beijing-based law firm King and Capital, was quoted by the Beijing Evening News as saying that measures to collect evidence, such as threats and phone hacking, may violate citizens' right to privacy and could even be seen as extortion and fraud.

If the clients knew about such illegal measures beforehand, they could be regarded as accomplices, Zhang said. 

Moreover, although candid photos or videos taken on the plaintiff's property are likely to be recognized as legal evidence in court, photos or video secretly taken in other properties, including hotel rooms or on property owned by the other women, are illegal, according to an article published on, a news site run by China's top procuratorial body, in June.

In the Chinese mainland, adultery is not a crime, and is also given little consideration during the divorce process. If the law gave more protection to women or men who were betrayed by their spouses, the need for such gray-zone business would shrink, Beijing-based The Mirror argued in September 2014.

Zheng said he has a bigger plan. "We hope some judges, economists and Internet specialists can join us as long as they can provide free services to women who faced threats from mistresses."

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