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India's New Detectives Track Down Serial E-Cheaters

India's New Detectives Track Down Serial E-Cheaters

India is fast becoming a modernized nation — reflected in their rising middle-class wealth, slowly improving infrastructure, and use of the Internet. The latter has brought to light a very unique problem as well as a very interesting solution.

More and more men and women are meeting and building relationships online that eventually lead to marriage. Take that eHarmony ideal and move it to India, however, and those marriages can cost a bride’s family thousands of dollars for dowry. Technically, this dowry system was declared illegal in 1961, but the ritual is so entrenched that most families ignore the edict — creepily, with so much at stake men are marrying, claiming their dowry, and then disappearing — only to repeat the bamboozle until they’re caught.

Enter, a new breed of female private detectives specializing in “matrimonial investigations” to warn potential victims before they hit the altar. And business is booming. To see how,


In the old days, families arranged marriages with people familiar to them: friends of friends and the like. But with the Internet, families aren't limited to selecting suitors who live in their village, and this also means either relying on trust or hiring someone like these detectives who will do the fact checking — though in many cases, it’s not a happy ending.

One detective, Bhawna Paliwal, says that female detectives are often better than men because of the powers of observation and under the radarness — people simply don’t expect women to play such a role. In one case Paliwal took a position as a domestic servant next door to her subject and found not only was the man a smoker and a drinker but was having an affair with his maid. So what did she do? She sat down with the woman who was to be married in two weeks, handed her a box of tissues, and broke the news. Although it was a shock to the woman and her family, Paliwal said: “If she had got married, it would have been bad.”


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