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

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


Privacy – Digital Nomad – Couch Surfer

Is there such a place where real privacy truly exists or is privacy something which needs to be created? We are sewn to our national identity numbers like never ending stories, be it the SSN, DNI, SIN, CURP or HKID we need one to exist. When you think about it, they are as much a part of us as we are of them. So the question is, in the quest for privacy, are we trying to escape a government, an attachment to an identity number or the boundaries of land?

Harry D. Schultz suggested the idea known as the Three Flag Theory. Which is owning a second passport, living in a tax haven and keeping your assets in another country. This is simplistic and is not really an ideal of privacy because it is just tools not a way of life. Nor does these acts protect one against government intrusion. Governments today have long arms and are shaking hands with one another.

Privacy could be as simple as being an expat in Lichtenstein or Padua. Or that of a couch surfer traveling one living room at a time. Privacy is not solely about disappearing or hiding your information but about redefining your world in a digital age.

In addition, privacy is not always about not creating digital footprints. There are those who are Digital Nomads and choose where they live and how they work. They embrace technology recognizing that giving up a little privacy leads to real personal freedom. Sometimes one must give something up to gain independence.

As time goes on I am beginning to wonder what all the fear is about when it comes to surrendering information. Perhaps I am becoming a dinosaur in the digital age, perhaps I need to give up a little more to find more of my own freedom. Maybe digital foot prints are not always a bad thing, maybe it is a question of who you give the footprints to. When you think about privacy, do not think of it as an absolute, think of it more as a give and take.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips