Chapter 4: Time to Disappear
All right, I think I’ve made it clear: If someone’s determined to find you and has the time and money to do so, that person is going to lie, cheat, and steal in relentless pursuit. But you can head him off at every turn.
You’re probably raring to go at this point: OK, so how do I do it? Let the games begin.
If you’re in a hurry to disappear, you might be wondering how long it will
take to accomplish your goals according to my instructions. My answer is that it depends on your money and assets. The more you want to take with you when you disappear, the longer it’s going to take (assuming you want to keep things legal, and I hope you do). If you’re trying to disappear with a lot of cash, you should allow yourself
at least two to three months to prepare. If you’re footloose and fancyfree—that is, poor—you can be out the door in a month.
Have you ever read that short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” by Richard Connell? A man named Rainsford finds himself stranded on an island with a very gentlemanly but crazy old man, General Zaroff, who likes to hunt human beings for sport. Before Rainsford knows it, he’s racing through the jungle, the newest trophy item on the world’s shittiest safari: His whole idea at first was to put distance between himself and General Zaroff; and, to this end, he had plunged long, spurred on by the sharp rowers of something very like panic. Now he had got a grip on himself, had topped, and was taking stock of himself and the situation. He saw that straight flight was futile; inevitably it would bring him face to face with the sea. He was in a picture with a frame of water, and his operations, clearly, must take place within that frame.
“I’ll give him a trail to follow,” muttered Rainsford, and he struck off from the rude path he had been following into
the trackless wilderness. He executed a series of intricate loops; he doubled on his trail again and again, recalling
all the lore of the fox hunt, and all the dodges of the fox. I don’t want to give away the ending of the story, but let’s just say Rainsford’s cunning pays off. He knows what a successful disappearance is all about: being a little wily, a little deceptive; doing your best to cover the path you’ve taken while simultaneously creating false
trails to throw off your pursuer. Think of yourself as prey in the jungle:
What are the three things you’ll need to do to escape your predator? You’ll need to camouflage yourself. You’ll need to send your predator running off in another direction. And you’ll need to find and build a safe new place to hide. That’s more or less what disappearing is all about. It’s a three-step process that involves what we in the field call misinformation, disinformation, and reformation.
Misinformation, the act of finding all the information available about
you and either removing it or altering it so that a skip tracer can’t use it
to find your real location.
Disinformation, the act of fabricating information; creating bogus trails for a stalker, predator, or private investigator to find and follow.
Reformation, the process of starting a new, more private life, leaving no clue as to your whereabouts.
Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, And Vanish Without A Trace