"If a guy is cheating and he knows there may be a divorce on the horizon, he may be hiding money," Payton says. "We'll follow him and all of a sudden he stops at a bank that she doesn't know about. Then you have the child custody issues. Is the person capable of raising their children? What kind of people is he associating with?"
Both investigators have been married for over 20 years. When asked how their job has impacted their relationships, they laugh.
"We know what not to do," Scheuermann says, joking.
"So why do these cheaters make it so easy to get caught?" I ask.
"A lot of it is arrogance," Payton says. "This guy we're following now is involved with some money and is probably feeling pretty good about himself and is just ready to break out. What we've witnessed from day one is that a lot of it has just been out in the open."
Studies have shown that people in the throes of sexual intercourse experience a severe reduction in peripheral vision; likewise, the excitement of a new affair can erase all sense of rational judgment.
"Ninety-eight percent of the people we follow are just oblivious to everything they do in life," Payton says. "Like the case we're working now. This guy traveled to The Todd to get some toys, then went back to the hotel room to wait for her. It was just total tunnel vision because that's all he wanted in life. He just focused on that one thing. When you're following someone, they have no clue because they aren't looking for it."
Payton has only been "made" once, and only then because the client couldn't help boasting to his unfaithful wife that he knew exactly where she was and who she was with — while Payton still had her under surveillance. The first rule of hiring a PI is not to talk about it, as this information will inevitably make it back to the subject.
Both men make it a point not to glamorize their profession, saying that it's nothing like the movies. But the pair does occasionally get exciting cases, like the time Payton was hired to spy on a celebrity client in South Beach during fashion week.
"I'm sitting in a trailer park on some boring insurance fraud case and Alan keeps texting me pictures of him with models in South Beach," Scheuermann says.
"He had to blend in," I say. "Did your wife get to see those pictures?"
"Probably not," Payton says, grinning. "I know better."
While everyone at the fashion shows was taking pictures of the new looks, Payton was snapping photos of the female celebrity with her suspected lover. No hard evidence of infidelity materialized until the last hour of the investigation. Of course, to get the evidence Payton had to resort to some less than glamorous tactics. He laid on the sidewalk beside a homeless man named Marvin to discreetly videotape the celebrity walking by with her lover.
"We were working 16 hours a day, then all of a sudden within that last hour, boom, I get the money shot of them kissing," Payton says. "That was a fun one. But there are the other ones."
Their typical cheating-spouse case is in the suburbs, which makes surveillance trickier.
"The infidelity cases are fun at times," Payton says, "but I mean, we've gone through people's garbage. Legally we can if it's at the curb. It's disgusting, but it's amazing what people throw away. We'll find out what other bank accounts they have or if they're heavy drinkers."
While it may be easy to think of these PIs as the un-matchmakers — tearing apart relationships instead of bringing lovers together — they are rarely called in to spy on happy marriages. In many cases, one partner is trying to work things out through counseling while the other partner just doesn't care. Other times the pair is already separated but has yet to divorce. However, there is the rare occasion when a spouse believes everything is going great until she reads something like the story Payton penned last V-Day in a trade magazine detailing signs of an unfaithful partner.
"The story went live online before it went to print," Payton says. "The next morning we get a call at 7 in the morning with a woman saying, 'You just described my husband. He does all these things.'"
"Was he cheating?" I ask.
"He was," Payton says. "Most of the time if you have a feeling your partner is cheating, it's happening."