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


Disappearing from Disappearing

For years I have been obsessed with the idea of being number one in the disappearing world. I wanted to be the go to guy, the one who knew it all about disappearing. Maybe I do and maybe I do not. Either way I am feeling more like a creation, like a how to disappear reputation management.

Recently I have become involved in a relationship and have found myself being accountable for things I have stated online. Not that I fault my partner but the strangeness of my world generates a lot of curiosity. I found myself explaining that the person she reads about is a creation and not the person sitting across the table from her. I think she found this quite odd.

This conversation opened up some serious personal thought. What are we doing online when it comes to reputation management? Are we creating false images of ourselves, of what we want others to believe? It’s not truth but marketing and nothing more. It is strange writing about this considering I have done so much online disinformation.

Lately, I have been asking myself, what have I become. Will I be forever known as the disappear guy? I sure hope not but it is looking that way. I will end up like one of those child stars who can’t be recognized for anything else but.

I was in a class recently when a person asked if I have ever disappeared. I laughed it off like I wish. However, I think I am at the point where I want to disappear from the disappearing world. I have had my fill and it is time to become something else.

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

An Apprentice in The Art of Disappearing

You are now an apprentice in the art of disappearing and it is twenty-four hours since you walked out the door. You will go from edge to edge, the paranoia will kick in and you will question every move. The route you took, the streets you turned, the bus you jumped on, the electronics you touched, the faces in the crowd and that gorilla in the mist, that camouflaged beast I call the unknown.

Where is the predator? Did they find the find bus route, the phone call you placed three months back or an unknown credit card transaction? The first twenty—four is not about celebrating but reviewing your exit, over and over again. the most dangerous part of your day is exiting your room. Is there someone waiting in the hotel lobby, a car parked down the street or the door waiting to be kicked in and you apprehended by your predator.

Being disappeared is not a vacation and the first twenty-four should not be a sigh of relief but a practice in strategy. This is the moment where you create your discipline, where you put down the how to books and become the Sun Tzu of your world. There is no absolute way of knowing if you have been compromised. Assume you have been and be prepared to get out of Dodge.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing, According to Sun Tzu’s, Art of War: Book One: Laying Plans

The Troubles of Disappearing Travel

Let me begin this by stating, I live in Europe and I have dual citizenship. A great perk in the world of travel and disappearing. However, a few weeks ago when I was leaving Europe for the states I was asked for my visa, since I was abroad for over a year. I produced my EU passport which usually settles matters quickly. However, a barrage of questions followed. Why do I live in Europe, what do I do for a living in Europe, I avoid mentioning disappearing people. Why am I traveling to the US, when will I return to Europe? No big thing, all turned out cool. Let me add, I have no issues with such controls and find it important in global security.

The other day, when it was time to check in online for my return to Europe I received a notice on the screen that they were unable to check me in online. The message explained that I had to go to the counter and prove I had proper document allowing me return to Europe legally. This was a first for me. I went to the counter and produced my EU passport which was acceptable and on my way I went.

The thing is, from a disappearing perspective this could be an issue. Such an incident could hinder your travel if you do not have dual citizenship or the proper papers. You could become landlocked, never good when disappeared. If you are disappeared in a foreign country and must travel internationally, you must research your ability to return. What would you do if you were not allowed to return to your country of disappearance. Some fly to a different city and then make their way home, via a separate flight, train or bus. Either way, be in the know before you go!

Frank M. Ahearn


Author of: The Art of Disappearing, According to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.