pretext

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

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Confirming a Skip Trace

Lately, I have been focusing on the skip tracing business because on a day to day basis it is far more exciting than the privacy business. The privacy work is cool and can be real exciting but there is something to picking up the phone and hunting someone down.

I think I have always had a love/hate relationship with skip tracing. Back in the early days it was like the wild west, no laws really stopped a skip tracer from pulling phone records or bank records. It was much of an underground world. I think the love/hate stemmed from being involved and successful at something that would eventually have to end. Not that all skip tracing had to end but the illegal aspect of pretexting phone companies and financial companies did.

The key to skip tracing today is knowing how to piece together information. Such information being database information, online information and offline information. Database and online information should be used with caution because it is not always up-to-date or accurate. Offline information, like closed service accounts are always useful and sometimes provide specks of information not available elsewhere. I believe a good skip tracer knows how decipher the useful information and string it together to figure out the direction of a skip.

However, how one goes about skip tracing is somewhat immaterial to how they confirm the results. Just because a database shows a subject living at Plaka, Elounda or even having current utilities on Riverdale Avenue in the Bronx, does not mean the subject is actually at that location. One of the terms never allowed in my office is, that’s what they said. Just because that is what they said, does not mean it is up-to-date, correct or even true.

I believe that a skip should be confirmed with information and verbal. Therefore, if I locate an address of a skip I then go for the verbal confirmation. What I do is, I pretext the skip with a water damaged box delivery and I misspell their last name and street name. If they correct me, it usually means I got them.

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

Locating People for Law Firms & Finance Companies

I do a reasonable amount of skip tracing (locating people) for finance companies and global law firms. Recently I have been asking my clients what is their in-house skip tracing process.

1.    Send a letter by post to the subject.
2.    Call the phone number in the file.

If neither of these are successful, the client will use an online database. If the database report provides an updated address and phone number.

3.    Send another letter.
4.    Call the new number.

I am against using databases in the skip tracing process. Much of it is regurgitated and not necessarily accurate. The other issue is that just because a database shows a subject living on 10 Main Street, it does not mean the subject is currently located at 10 Main Street. Databases are based on past information so there is no verification of the here and now. Even if the utilities, cable or phone number is registered to your subject.

Let me point out that some of the larger companies do not call the phone numbers on file and relied more on postal communications. This is a short sighted way of skip tracing, since some individuals move and do not forward their mail but much of the time do keep the same phone number. Also, sending a postal letter is a passive way of locating people, this would include a registered letter as well. A letter sent only proves a letter was sent, it does not reveal if a person is or is not at an address.

The first rule in skip tracing is to call Directory Assistance from a mobile or landline phone. Sometimes directory Assistance is more current and you may get a hit on the subject. You would be surprised at how many people I have located in a matter of minutes by making the Directory Assistance call.

Remember, if you do get a hit via Directory you need to verify it is your subject and your subject is currently at that address provided. A simple pretext can answer that question. “Hi, this is Max from ABC Shipping, we have a water damaged package for Mr. Jones, J.O.N.E.Z.” I misspell the subjects last name and if I have the right person, he or she usually corrects me. I always ask for the zip code, the building number and then the street name. Sometimes the subject will get paranoid and halfway through the pretext stop providing information. if I have the zip code, I now know what city. If I have the zip code and building number, I can easily locate the street name.

So, before you go on the hunt, try the Directory Assistance call, you might get a hit.

Frank M. Ahearn
www.Disappear.Info

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

Pre-Privacy

When I think about privacy I do not limit my scope to the end game of something which protects. I believe the process of creating privacy should be equally secure as the act of privacy itself. What this means is many individuals and organizations think about creating privacy but do not think about the pre-privacy process. Meaning, how secure is the journey and execution? Imagine going through all the motions of creating privacy only to discover that your past actions created a hole.

In addition, and equally important, many view privacy, from solely a digital point of view and this is a dire mistake. Privacy and security must also be dealt with from a non—digital/non-technological point of view as well. Just as technology can hack, humans can pretext, therefore each are an equal danger to the integrity of your security.

What I do is work with clients before and after they cross the privacy bridge. My job is to confirm that the bridge is sound, the path is clear and all secure on the other side. Or if you are over the bridge, I search to backwards for potential vulnerabilities left in the path. My expertise as a skip tracer, social engineer and privacy expert provides a unique perspective in privacy, one which engineers and technology cannot foresee.

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 Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

Frank M. Ahearn spent much of his career as a skip tracer finding people for private investigators, lawyers and tabloids. However, his real forte was extracting private information for sale. He is a leading privacy expert and author of The New York Times Best Seller: How to Disappear.

Skip Tracing & Pretextretext

Available at Amazon!

Most of the pretext and social engineering tactics in this book are illegal. In non-technical language, that means do not be a dumbass and try this stuff at home, from work, on Skype, with a prepaid cell phone or through a psychic medium. If you are caught, utilizing these tactics some bad mojo will happen. That is my disclaimer.

Excerpt from The Little Black Book Of Skip Tracing:

I mentioned that another way to pretext a subject of a landline is to do so as a telephone repair employee.

“Hi, this is Joe Momma from Dingle Falls Telephone Repair. I am working on the phone lines and your phone service might be disconnected for about five minutes. Fear not it will be immediately repaired.”

Some people are cool about it and others are huge dicks rambling off they need their phone service. Yea, yeah, yeah! I wait a few minutes and dial them back and when they answer, I hold down the pound button as it cranks out that unpleasant sound in their ear. I do this a few times, depending how much of a schmuck the subject was during the pretext call.

After about five minutes, I call the subject back and explain all is fixed and there will be no interruption of service. Before I hang up, I hit them with the second part of the pretext.

“I need you to confirm your building number and zip code.” And “Please spell the name correctly.”
Note, I do not ask what the building number is but confirm the building number. By saying, confirm it automatically implies that I have the information. Most people fall for the pretext but there is always one unpleasant crayon in the box.

“You work for the phone company, you should know my address”

If someone were being a dick about confirming the information, I would ease out of the call and tell them no problem. From the multiple prepaid cell phones, I call the subject back using different voices and requesting various styles of pizza. The subject would soon realize that their phone number is crossed with the local pizza shop.

I call the pain in the ass subject back and act as if I am calling the pizza shop to confirm all is well with their services. The subject usually blew their stack and blasted me for screwing up their phone line. This was a good thing.

“Sorry but I am showing this line belonging to Pizza Haven. You will need to dial 611 and report the issue.”

This totally infuriated the subject.

“You are repair, you broke it now fix it.”

My response was polite.

“I would if I could but I can’t. I show the number 867.5309 belonging to Pizza Haven on Broadway.”

Then came the roar!

“No you moron my name is Kurt Duesterdick and my address is 1313 Webfoot Walk, Duckburg, Calisota.

“My apologies, I will repair immediately.”

Pretext is like a prompt system, you need to create the right buttons to push.

http://www.FrankAhearn.com