Author: Frank M. Ahearn

The Limited State of Disappearing

As time goes on I am beginning the think that there is no such thing as disappearing. You can go on the run, in hiding, stay under the radar or off the grid but can you truly disappear? If you are somewhere and someone is hunting you, you are not disappeared but in the hunt! For most who have disappeared, it is a limited state of being. If you cannot lay your head on your pillow with absolute surety that you are safe, you are on the run.

I speak with many people who run disappear plans by me and most of them are failure from the get go. Most create a plan based upon a reaction to a current or coming situation. All strategy is about the big picture and should ever be exclusive to the immediate. If you think immediate you will get the immediate pay-off. However, the immediate may not be what is needed to be successful in the future.

Perhaps disappearing should be a state of mind and one should consider themselves perpetually on the run. It is like the idea of freedom, true freedom can only ring in one’s mind because society creates limitations. When there are limitations freedom is hindered. When there is a predator, disappearing will always be a limited state.

Frank M. Ahearn
www.FrankAhearn.com
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

The Mind – The Only Place For Freedom!

A new year and new thoughts about privacy. What I have been thinking about is what happens when smartphones go beyond being smart? I am not talking about the rise of the machines and other fine Hollywood fantasies. Although, Hollywood fantasies tend to be on the mark. What I mean is when hardware will be able to extract information from us by touch. Maybe they can now, I do not know. I am not referring to when your thumb or retina unlocks an iPhone or laptop. But when you pick up a random mobile phone or laptop will it ever be able extract our fingerprints or DNA? I know these are not original thoughts but I do feel these are thoughts we should ponder.

In privacy, the initial strategies are always how avoid or combat intrusions. It is difficult to imagine how one would go about using technology if machines could extract information from humans. The same way humans extract information from machines. Creating and protecting privacy always comes down to who is better at the game.

We know we are being tracked online and watched by the eye in the sky or the random person across from us with a Twitter account. So the question is, when do the machines come alive and join the party? When must we become concerned about that human to machine touch? How we will live free among this coming predation. Maybe the mind will be the only place available for privacy and freedom.

Frank M. Ahearn
www.FrankAhearn.com
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy And Disappearing Tips

I posted the Art of Disappearing for free on my blog.

At one point I thought a disappearing strategy book based on the Art of War by Sun Tzu was a good idea. I no longer think so and so I have removed from Amazon and posted here. Perhaps there is some value to offer, perhaps not. Frank M. Ahearn

The Art of Disappearing:  According to Sun Tzu’s, Art of War – Laying Plans

Those who preplan their disappearance will have a greater chance at succeeding than those who do not. The essential message here is to walk away with the understanding that, the act of pre-disappearing is equally as important as the art of disappearing. Therefore, view the contents of this book from the perspective of pre-disappearing.

The Art of Disappearing will be explained through, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, using Section I: Laying Plans. (Translated from the Chinese by Lionel Giles, M.A.) I chose The Art of War because it can be engineered for the advantage of the prey.

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and Eastern philosophy. (wiki)

When you walk out the door and become a disappeared person you must accept that there is nothing constant but change. As a disappeared person you need to become instantly changeable and be able to adapt to new situations immediately. No matter the peril.

As a disappeared person you must utilize the tool of what if in all, thoughts, decisions and actions. You analyze your thoughts, what if this, what if that. You make a decision and you consider what if it is the wrong decision. You take action and you consider what if it was the wrong action. The what if becomes a code you live by. Your freedom depends on identifying all the what ifs that exist. To ignore but one what if, is to ignore potential failure.

The terms tactic and strategy are often confused: tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns, activity, and decision-making that lead to tactical execution. (wiki)

Never move forward on an action if you have not resolved the what if. Avoid having the attitude that you will cross that bridge when you get there or worry about something when it arrives. This is the mentality of an escaped prisoner, who never plans past the wall. Disappearing is never about chance, it is about a safe road to personal freedom.

Always anticipate the possibility of the unwanted knock. There is always a one percent chance you made a mistake, overlooked something or random chance has occurred. Such is the reason to have a backup plan for a new disappear city.

Disappearing is not solely about disappearing. Disappearing is about knowing your predator, knowing the information known about you and knowing the footprints you left behind. Disappearing is creating disinformation, utilizing deception and knowing how to avoid connections.

Everything is connected! All things digital are a disease which aims to connect. The problem is the digital is pushing itself into the offline world of physical space. In time the digital you and the offline you will be forced to be one identity. In my opinion this is the grave danger to personal identity. As a disappeared person you have to combat the digital so it does not connect to your offline physical space.

This book is about teaching you how to be a disappear strategist, not a follower of a how to book.

When you are out in the cold or on the run in Brussels, you cannot flip through the pages of a book for guidance. All the solutions of the future will come from you. In order for you to make the correct decisions you must learn to think like a strategist.

Sun Tzu: The Art of War is of vital importance to the State.

The Art of War is of vital importance to you! It will teach you about predators and their potential abilities. By being able to anticipate tactics you will be able to avoid confrontations and be successful in your disappearance.

Everything in your past and present are a potential footprint. Every footprint is a potential connection to your future. A disappeared person must learn how to incorporate what if, into each thought, decision and action. A strategist questions all and leaves nothing unanswered.

In The Art of Disappearing, what if, is imperative.

Sun Tzu: It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

There is only one of two outcomes when you disappear, freedom or no freedom. Disappearing is not a limited action from point A to point B but a lifestyle which involves strategies, tactics, a code and discipline.

Never think disappearing is exclusively about disappearing. Being disappeared is merely a result of actions you take. Those actions are all deception based actions. Therefore, to be and to remain a disappeared person you must learn to be a master of deception.

Being a disappeared person means understanding cause and effect: Cause and effect is a relationship between events or things, where one is the result of the other or others. This is a combination of action and reaction. (yourdictionary.com) Being a disappeared person means that you will not always be able to know the result of a decision or action.  Therefore, you must prepare yourself for numerous possible outcomes. 

In The Art of Disappearing, you must become a master of deception!

Sun Tzu: The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

The Art of Disappearing is an abstract battle and never perceived to be governed by one force or countable actions. You cannot govern the actions of a spinning top. However, knowing that the top is spinning and knowing that it is might be spinning in your direction, offers you the opportunity to combat the situation.

In the Art of Disappearing the unexpected is expected!

Sun Tzu: The Moral Law – Sun Tzu states that people should be in accord with their ruler.

There is no moral law in the world of being disappeared. You are simply fair game to your predator! If you are confronted with a moral choice, the decision that follows must be based on your road to freedom.

In The Art of Disappearing, freedom is always the objective!

Sun Tzu: Heaven –  Signifies, night and day, cold and heat

You exist in a world where your thoughts decisions and actions will determine your fate. To disappear properly it is important to learn how to make decisions based upon information you know as well as information you do not know. The decisions you make must be black and white, however, your actions will be a shade of gray. Meaning, as you move forward, be aware that the black and white may need to change.

In The Art of Disappearing, you exist in a dichotomy!

Sun Tzu: Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

You are at war with numerous foes, such being humans, information, technology, connections, personal mistakes, the past and random chance. You are at war with everything around you, the corner you turn, the border you cross, the public space you walk and the stranger sitting across the room. In the disappearing world time, space, past, present and current are one.

“So what does time and space mean? It means time and space is inseparable and yet separable. Just as everything in life is present, and yet not present.” Dr. Vijai S. Shankar

Just because you cannot see it, does not mean it does not exist. You must always believe your predator is in your space, regardless of that space being measured by miles.

In The Art of Disappearing, everything is one!

Sun Tzu: The Commander – Virtue of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.

These are admirable words in a two-thousand-year-old book, which suggests a man should have a code. I do believe it is important to create a disappear code, however, avoid the chivalry. A disappear code is the foundation that creates the rules of self. The rules of self are a weapon to live by and never compromise.

In The Art of Disappearing, one must live by the rules of self!

Sun Tzu: Method and Discipline – Marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.

To underestimate your predator is to surrender all advantage. As you have evolved into a strategic disappearing machine, expecting the same advancement from your predator is necessary. Consider your predator a mirror image of your own actions. As you appear invisible so shall your predator. As you employ tactics so shall your predator. As you move, your predator follows. Always view your predator as the shadow not far behind.

In The Art of Disappearing, view your predator as omnipotent!

Sun Tzu: These five heads should be familiar to every general: He Who Knows – Will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

Disappearing is to be broken down into three stages.  Pre-disappearing, Disappearing Day and Post Disappearing.

Pre-Disappearing is the know before you go! You must know and combat the vulnerable information you are leaving behind. You must know if the disappear plans you created can be compromised by a potential digital footprint. You must identify the what ifs!

Disappear Day (D-Day) the day of exposure. How will get from point A to point B without creating connections? When you walk out the door, assume you are under surveillance?

Post Disappearance, living as a disappeared person and avoiding the connections that can trace you. Always be aware of people, places and things that can connect to your here and now.

In The Art of Disappearing, you must know before you go!

Sun Tzu: The Art of War: Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:–

You will be hunted in numerous ways. It will begin by searching the information you left behind and then the hunt goes in any and every possible direction. This is why I state you make your decisions in black and white but you maneuver in a shade of gray. For the disappear world has too many variables to know all.

In The Art of Disappearing one must consider all possibilities!

Sun Tzu: Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?

Moral law is an idea created by those who control. This is not to say you should break the law or harm another. Be it stalkers or law enforcement, all predators must be viewed as one in the same. The both have the same objective, which is to hinder your freedom.

In The Art of Disappearing all predators are one!

Sun Tzu: Which of the two generals has most ability?

Anticipate that the predator has access to all the resources needed to hunt you. Anticipate your predator will go to the ends of the earth to capture you. View your predator as extreme, capable, with deep pockets and serious cunning.

In the Art of Disappearing never under estimate your predator!

Sun Tzu: With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?

Being disappeared is simply an illusion. It is just as easy to find a person who is hiding five or five-thousand miles away. Such persons are only separated by space, time, walls and information. Realize that all things are one and yesterday, today and tomorrow are all equal parts of your disappearance. Meaning, that the footprints from yesterday, the connections today and the unknown tomorrow, makes no difference if you are five or five-thousand miles away.

In The Art of Disappearing, all is an illusion!

Sun Tzu: On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?

Having a code can separate you from pass or fail. A code is the inner voice that dictates without emotions. A code is a council that will never lie to you, it will force you to make the decisions you may not want to make. All thoughts, decisions and action must fall under the code of what if.

In The Art of Disappearing, you must heed to your code!

Sun Tzu: Which army is stronger?

Again! If your predator was not more capable than you when you disappeared, assume they are now. As you have educated yourself on the ways of disappearing and deception. Assume that your predator is now educated on the ways of hunting.

In The Art of Disappearing, be stronger by feigning the weaker role!

Sun Tzu: On which side are officers and men more highly trained?

The hunter needs only one skill, hunting. You need many skills as a disappeared person. However, learning one hundred skills to its exact is impossible. Although, creating a code to live by and utilizing the what if in your thoughts, decisions and actions will be the closest you will come to mastering one hundred skills.

In The Art of Disappearing, mastering your code is mastering one hundred tactics!

Sun Tzu: In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

Enforcing your code and staying in the moment is a never-ending way of being. The worst of days must bring out the greatest of personal actions. The best of days cannot create complacency. No matter the mood or weather of the day, you are disappeared and must always stay within in that moment.

In The Art of Disappearing, the mood never dictates!

Sun Tzu: By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.

This is a sentence in a two-thousand-year-old book. You cannot forecast the future you can only anticipate possible outcomes. The disappear strategy is to have a move ready in order to avoid capture.

In The Art of Disappearing, words are only words!

Sun Tzu: The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed!

There are two types of criminals, those that get caught and those that do not. What is the difference between the two? One could say luck, which is probably correct. However, preplanning the crime is key. However, more important is planning the getaway.

In The Art of Disappearing is a planned art!

Sun Tzu: While heeding the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.

Reading books written by Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, von Clausewitz, Frank M. Ahearn and JJ Luna is all well and good but it is limited. However, an education in disappearing and deception can come by reading about the experiences of those who disappeared and failed.

In The Art of Disappearing books are just books!

Sun Tzu: According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.

Utilize information like pawns, rooks, knights and bishops on a chess board. Understand that no one move will outwit your enemy or win the game. It is a combination of malleable actions that will lead to victory.

In The Art of Disappearing you are the King of your world!

Sun Tzu: All warfare is based on deception.

Your weapon for survival in the disappear world is deception. You will not remain free if you do not master the skills of deception.

In The Art of Disappearing deception is a way of life!

Sun Tzu…. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

In pre-disappear you will exist in a perception and deception stage. How are the people around you perceiving you? Do they see a change in you? You may believe they are unaware, however, you cannot always be so confident. In addition, what if something occurs the day you plan to disappear and it must be postponed.

In The Art of Disappearing, perception is important!

Sun Tzu: Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

Even two-thousand-years ago Sun Tzu knew that deception and disinformation was vital to wining a war. However, in your war you will not try to crush your predator. The success of your disappearance is measured by freedom, not necessarily by the downfall of your enemy.

I often state that disinformation is the most important tactic when it comes to disappearing. The reason for this is, if you do not create disinformation your predator will search the known information about you. The known information can be the road map to your present location. By creating disinformation, you make it more difficult to locate you.

Disinformation does not always need to be believable but it must be find-able by the predator. It does not matter if you are creating information about being in Fiji or Belize. Once the hunter locates the information it will play on their mind. They will question if the information was purposely created to look fake but perhaps it is real. Either way, they will search.

In The Art of Disappearing, disinformation is a necessity!

Sun Tzu: If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

Act as if your hunter is mammoth, live as if they have you pinned down and know that evasion is the only road to freedom. This is the mindset of being a disappeared person.

A simple act of deception can be the road to freedom. Your ex is hunting you in Paris, you purposely drop your wallet in a hotel. In the wallet there is a contact number for your ex. The hotel contacts you ex. Your ex goes to the hotel where you have dropped the wallet. This becomes your opportunity to escape.

In The Art of Disappearing, simple deception leads to freedom.

Sun Tzu: If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

The disinformation you create will irritate your predator. However, caution yourself and do not become arrogant and believe in your own ego.

Sun Tzu: If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

In the disappear world your armed forces are your money and your identification. Being separated from either can be catastrophic. When the predators cannot locate the prey, they resort to, follow the money. There are two aspects of money, where you park your money and how you access your money. When you are in the hunt you need to be extremely cautious when it comes to accessing funds.

Having a solid identification is crucial to disappear survival. Your identification must always be kept on your person, not in the pocket of a carry bag.

In The Art of Disappearing one must always protect their armed forces!

Sun Tzu: Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

Think of your war as being that of Guerilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is for the smaller weaker armies who fights on their own terrain. However, the difference is, you do not fight on your own terrain, your fight is to protect the location of your terrain.

The first step to protecting your terrain is to become a Virtual Entity who has no connections to anything physical. This means the information from the past and present can never lead to something tangible. When the tangible becomes available to your prey, you become in the gravest of dangers.

In The Art of Disappearing one must avoid connections!

Sun Tzu: These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

Divulging your detailed disappear plans to another will only put you at jeopardy. The hunt for will involve your family and friends. The person you shared your disappear plans with may unknowingly share a piece of information that leads to you.

In The Art of Disappearing only one can keep a secret!

Sun Tzu: Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple where the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

Planning the perfect disappearance is impossible. What is possible is to properly pre-plan your disappearance. As you make your plans always think of the past, present and future separately, and as one. This will keep the perspective that time, space, information and miles do not separate you from your predator.

In The Art of Disappearing, all is one!

By Frank M. Ahearn

www.FrankAhearn.com

 

Skip Trace of the Week

Back in the day, skip tracing (finding people) was mostly picking up the phone and pretexting (lying). However, the digital world has created new and creative methods for locating people. I do not mean the use of database information but more so, social information combined with some fine pretext.

Recently, I had to locate a subject who was once a stage actor in Lichtenstein. He dashed out of the country to avoid a serious lawsuit and supposedly settled in Lisbon. The subject’s phone numbers were long disconnected and the address provided was a mail drop.  Utilizing a variety of skip tracing methods, I was able to figure out the subject was no longer in Portugal. The trace looked like it was going to be a dead end. However, when all else fails, Google it!

I discovered that the subject had a Facebook page and confirmed the identity via his city of birth and university. The Facebook page still listed Lisbon as his current city. I sent a friend request and a note stating, I am a college journalism student interested in writing an article about him for my class. Naturally, I friended him from a female profile. A week went by with no response and again, I assumed it was dead in the water.

Late the other night, I received a message of interest from the subject and the chat began! I have learned over the years, that if you feed into someone’s ego, greed, vanity, or other interests, they tend to respond. As we chatted, I fed deep into his ego and he gave me his email address, along with some heavy flirtation.  I asked if it would be possible to speak with him on the phone so I can hear his intonations when he responds to the interview questions. He liked this idea and so he provided me with a mobile phone number for me to call. Perhaps man has yet to evolve.

I wasted no time and the following morning, I called him and posed as a delivery person. I claimed I had a package from the name and address of his old agent. I did not even say what city I was in or street I was near. He jumped at it and provided me with an address. I explained that the package was for a home delivery and not commercial delivery. I say this to avoid a mail drop address. I waited ten minutes and called again. I stated the address shows as a commercial address. He assured me it was his home address and he will arrive home in one hour. I believed him but confirming information is key. So, I threw some other skip tracing tricks in the mix in order to confirm and it was his current home address.

Sometimes I like to include a moral of a story. However, this skip tracing moral is quite obvious on so many levels.

Frank M. Ahearn
www.FrankAhearn.com

Author of: The Little Black Book Of Skip Tracing: Creating Pretext, Mastering Social Engineering And Finding Anyone Anywhere

The Lagom of Privacy

I am not one to follow trends or get caught up in the waves of internet movements. However, I read an interesting article from the BBC about Lagom a Scandinavian term meaning, “just the right amount.” I believe to create the ultimate privacy one must live by a code and that code should have a balance. Lagom is about balance. The balance of work and life, disappearing is about the same. Ultimately, the two become one to be dictated by a code.

So, why the babble about this new word and way known as Lagom. The reason being is I believe people who want a private lifestyle must also figure out how to co-exist with intrusion and in do so in society. As opposed to sitting on the side lines of the world, waiting and watching. The is no need to lock yourself up in a room if you have disappeared, venture with caution, find a community be one with something. Even if it is a Scandinavian trend or word. Do not let your privacy rule you, be the master of your world not a slave to your dilemma.

Fran M. Ahearn
www.FrankAhearn.com
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

The Allure of Skip Tracing

I often think about the line from The Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in…” This is how I feel about skip tracing, no matter what happens in my life I somehow end up back in this business. Not that this is a bad thing but I will admit there is a love, hate relationship. I love the act and art of skip tracing. The research part is challenging and the pretext aspect feeds my creative. It is the business side I dislike but I will refrain from discussing that element.

For a person like me, there is something cool about looking at information and trying to make sense of it. Which pieces will lead me onward to the road of discovery. It is like trying to create order and form in a world with no boundaries as well as connecting the non-tangible to the tangible. To a certain extent, it is taking lost information, or I should say the left behind information and reuniting it with the reluctant owner.

Unfortunately, the type of skip tracing I am currently working is too easy. That is not to say I find everyone but most. It is like searching for a lemming, most have the same pattern whether it is New York, Monaco, London, Luxembourg, or Auckland. The only barrier in skip tracing is the language but most times I can work through that. Although, Eastern European countries can be difficult but most are fair game.

I began skip tracing in the mid-eighties and not much has changed. There are databases which has alleviated the need for the hundred pounds of Coles Directories. This statement is no doubt showing my age. The internet has also alleviated the need for Directory Assistance, which was a huge expense each month. Social Media has created a new area of search. Basically, skip tracing has not changed much.

But my dilemma. I feel like a hunter who has engages in small game. The deadbeat, the guy who needs to be served, the long-lost-love and similar types of skips. I need some big game, something challenging, something to get me away from my desk. Something that brings me to the hills of Italy or the shores of Greece. I need that search where I do not know if I am going to locate the subject in an hour in Kamloops or Oslo. I am tired of looking at the skip’s information and thinking, piece of cake.

Then again, am I looking to search for a person who mysteriously disappeared, a potential abduction, the con artist on the run or the one who may have faked their death. I guess I am looking for an odyssey or a skip tracing pilgrimage. Something to feed the need, any ideas?

Frank M. Ahearn
www.FrankAhearn.com
Author of: The Little Black Book Of Skip Tracing: Creating Pretext, Mastering Social Engineering And Finding Anyone Anywhere

The Peanut Butter Café in Monaco

Today my thoughts flow from this month’s meeting at The Peanut Butter Café in Monaco. I was prepared to discuss how a high-net-worth client can create more privacy and security for their family. However, the topic of Donald Trump stole the conversation and me being an American, the group was curious about my thoughts. Truthfully, I am not a political person and I am usually reluctant to share my thoughts. I was asked to give one thought of Donald Trump winning the election. I equate it to Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, however, in this case the Hudson River is the Rubicon and it seems more like a reality show than the forward of a nation.

The question is can the new America affect your digitally nomadic or expat life? Has Brexit negatively affected citizens living abroad? We must always think about, the what if and the what if it happens to me. Be aware of political happenings from home because the ripples can drift your way and do damage. Donald appears myopic on the idea of making America great again, myopic in the sense that it is his idea of what will make America great again and a population of people but not the whole. I guess this is the point of being an expat, finding a patch of land where politics, health care and quality of life have a balance. Perhaps we will all be surprised and Donald will be more like Marcus Aurelius, if not be prepared.