We Are Human & We Are Digtal

Recently I gave a talk at New Scientist Live in London. Before the talk, I was going over my speech and thinking about some of the critical points about privacy and disappearing. Top of my list was the idea that we are two entities, physical and digital. When individuals think about tweaking their privacy or hitting the road in a vanishing act, they focus on the digital and overlook the human aspect.

We, humans, tend to forget that we are creatures of habit and such habits can make us vulnerable. Take the extra time and focus on your human traits. Find the idiosyncracies about you that can reveal your plans. Such can be travel habits, select types of coffee, rare medicine, and one travel destination.

We are human and we are digital.

Frank M. Ahearn


Private How to Disappear Seminar

I am holding a private online-seminar on Saturday July 29 at 12:00 EST. I will speak for thirty minutes about how to disappear, privacy, how people are located, disinformation, offshore tools, getting from here to there and being disappeared. Participants will be able to ask direct questions about the content as well as off topic questions. Learn More

Frank M. Ahearn

How to Disappear – Go!

CHAPTER TEN – How to Disappear from Big Brother

In the STOP chapter, I explained the importance of STOPPING and walking away from your computer. The GO chapter is about finding and using computers and internet services that have no connection to you.

When I use the word connection, I mean that you have no direct link to the computer or internet connection. This does NOT mean the connection is untraceable. When I say connections, I mean online/digital connections and offline connections.

The reason I use the word connection is that people tend to forget that connections can create traces just as digital can create digital footprints. If you begin to see them as a whole or the same, you will most likely create fewer footprints.

Take Mr. Munich who I located in Nice. He started out in Munich and created a connection to Belfast. The Belfast apartment created a connection to an internet café and the internet café created a connection to Nice and Monaco.

The mistake Mr. Munich created was not thinking about his online and offline connections as a whole. He probably thought he was being smart not having an internet connection in the Belfast apartment. However, all this did was force me to walk the streets of Belfast searching for a connection he may have used.

Mr. Munich should have stood on the street in front of the Belfast internet café and asked himself if a connection with the internet café exists.

Keep in mind things tend to appear private, like an internet café two blocks from your home but in reality, it is not private and to a degree guilty by association. Remember paying cash and not using your name is not anonymous!

a·non·y·mous – əˈnänəməs/ – adjective: anonymous – (of a person) not identified by name; of unknown name. 

con·nec·tion – kəˈnekSHən/

noun: connection; plural noun: connections; noun: connexion; plural noun: connexions

a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.

Again, if Mr. Munich stood in front of the internet café and thought carefully about what he was about to do it is possible that he may have realized that the location was not safe.  He would have realized that there is a connection between the internet store and his apartment. There is not a digital connection but a walking connection, which is no different from a digital connection.

What Mr. Munich should have done is set up an internet connection in the Belfast apartment and spread the internet with some bogus traces. Instead of searching for hotels and exotic car rentals in Nice and Monaco at the Belfast internet café he should have searched in Belgrade. It is quite possible I would have been on a plane to Belgrade.

To connect to the internet Mr. Munich should have taken a train ride a few hours south to Dublin. From there find free internet service offered in many parts of the city and do his thing.  It is more than likely that I would not have discovered his disappearance to Monaco.

It is important to understand that the goal is to break or seriously distance your identity from the connections you utilize. That does not guarantee the connections will not be discovered but it will make it more difficult for BIG BROTHER or any predator to locate.

Let me shuffle around and talk about the evil twins in society, BIG BUSINESS and BIG BROTHER. Both of them want to know everything about you and neither care about your personal privacy. The snoopy BROTHERS also want to use your information to further their cause. One wants money and the other wants control.

Whether you like it or not we are small pawns in the big game of information- gathering. In my opinion, we have entered a dark era where governments are spying more on their citizens than ever before. East Berlin will go down as the amateurs of citizen spying and the world champions will be The United States of Fearica.

It is up to you to decide what information you keep private and what information you give away. It is also up to you to figure out how to keep your information private. Privacy is only as private as you make it. If you email compromising photos of yourself, it is equal to handing the postal worker the photos with and open envelope. If you email questions to your offshore banker, your government will know about it.

If you write information in your email that, you do not want to share publicly. That is equivalent to shouting it through a megaphone on your street corner. Other people have access to your communications, as simple as that. Privacy discretion begins with you and your actions.

We are being monitored twenty-four seven in various ways. When you turn on your light on in the morning the utility company knows you have most likely woken up. The cable company knows what you watch on TV and when you change the station. The internet company knows when you log on and what you surf. Your building manager knows when you step in the elevator and exit the building. The police know when you walk down the street. The subway police know which train station you enter and which station you exit. The building manager for the building you work at knows when you arrive. Your employer knows your internet habits and possibly the contents of your emails. Daily life has become intrusive and there seems to be no stopping in the future. Always remember there is a third party witnessing and recording your actions.

Where to Surf?

The unfortunate reality of disappearing is there is no 100% private place to surf and plan your disappearance. You must locate a place that has no connection to you. This is the best odds of safe surfing. Always keep in mind that technology changes each second of the day. The location you believe secure today will become the compromised location tomorrow, if not sooner.

GO Location

The GO location is where you will search and acquire your GO tools. From this point on, I want you to forget about the word digital and solely think connections.

The GO Tools – Large Mail Drop – Several Prepaid Debit Cards – Several Prepaid Cell Phones – Several Prepaid Calling Cards – Cheap Laptop or Tablet

Finding a mail drop in most countries is easy. I suggest not using a brand box store but a locally owned drop store. They are the stores that usually have boxes strewn all over the place and most likely will not take notice of you using the mail box as a stash.

The reason for using a mail drop is to stash your disappear gear and to keep it from other people’s hands. If you unknowingly allow others to have access to your phone or laptop, they could put a tracking device or keystroke software on your computer.

The spyware can blow your disappear plans out of the water. I would suggest using several mail drops so not to keep your gear in one location. This is smart in case you need to leave town quickly and one of your boxes are blown.

A note about prepaid credit/debit cards, there are two different types. One card you fill out an application, which has identifiers like, name, address, and social security number. The second card is more of a gift cards supplied by credit card companies. The gift cards you give cash to the cashier to load up the card with credit and the best part is there are no identifiers. However, keep in mind there is the store surveillance capturing the transaction.

Think Connections When Obtaining Tools

Never walk into a store yourself and purchase disappear tools! Remember CONNECTIONS! I would assume that 99.9% of retail locations have surveillance cameras. Do not think you are James Bond or Jason Bourne and try going into the store with a disguise unless you have no other choice.

What you do, is go to a city area that is bustling with people and pay a less fortunate individual a couple of bucks to go into the store and purchase your disappear gear. Do not tempt the minion and hand over a hundred-dollar bill for the purchase. They might disappear, on you.

Give only enough money to buy two phones at a clip and pay them their reward when the merchandise is in your hands. Do not stand in front of the store waiting for your merchandise because a camera could pick you up. Wait across the street out of eyeshot of surveillance cameras.

Be Smart About Your Choice in Minions!

Never, ever give money to a minor to purchase your disappear tools. An individual I spoke with paid a teenager to go into a store and buy a bunch of prepaid phones and several prepaid credit cards.  Standing behind the teen at the register was a plain-clothes detective who found the purchase odd. The detective followed the teen outside and observed him handing over the merchandise to a much older man. Even though there was, no law broken the person found himself in quite the awkward position.

When it comes to a laptop or tablet, buy a cheap small one that will fit in your mail drop. You will NOT register the computer. You will NOT check your real email or any connected email addresses. You will NOT do anything where you have to sign in with identifying information. This laptop is to search for your desired destination. 


Bring Tools to Home or Work – Have Automatic Wireless Connections – Use Identifiable Information – Never Create Connections

The predator hunting you down can make one hundred mistakes but you the prey cannot afford one mistake. Before you walk into a store, coffee shop or internet café to surf, stand outside and ask if you are creating a connection.

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

How to Disappear – Fear the Buttons

CHAPTER EIGHT – How to Disappear from Big Brother

The idea behind being a Virtual Entity is being able to exist “in” society not outside of society. Outside of society be it a commune or deep in a cave with the enlightened ones. However, a commune is not a bad place to disappear.

I assume most people reading this needs or at very least wants access to the digital world, perhaps business, friends, family and even some tasteful porn. The trick is to figure how you can do these things without creating connections.

Disappearing and privacy has changed since the publishing of my first disappear book. In the past, I relied mostly on disinformation, misinformation and reformation. The strategy was to try to delete, manipulate or deviate personal information.

If the client’s home services were in the name of Frank M. Ahearn, I would deviate Frank to Hank and eventually Ahearn to Hearn. In addition, I would deviate the SS#, date of birth, contact numbers and employment. By the time I finished the current information was as abstract as a Picasso painting was. This was the tactic of Misinformation.

From there I would create massive amounts of Disinformation by making it appear the client disappeared to Toronto but actually, the client disappeared to Berlin.

This I accomplished via social media, making bogus phone calls to Toronto and emailing potential employers in Toronto. I purposely leaked information for the predator to find.

The last step of disappearing was Reformation, getting the client from point A to point B in a seamless fashion.

Disappearing people in the past was much easier. I only had to deal with mostly offline information like phone, electric and other database type records. There were minimal amounts of online information and social networking. Today it is much more difficult because information is at a maximum and easily located. In addition, every street you walk down and building you pass has a camera waiting to rat you out.

Fear the Buttons

I say fear the buttons. We click sign on in the morning, we press a button to read our email, we press, reply forward, send and delete.

When a call comes to our cell phone, we press the screen to communicate and then press the screen to end the call. To a large degree, our existence depends on the ability to press buttons. However, technology is perfecting voice activation.

Each touch of the button records our action. Before your finger makes a move ask if the action can trace to you, will the connection, get you captured or killed.

People often asked if it is possible to disappear in the digital age. The answer is yes if you know what you are doing. However, from experience, I have discovered most people do not know what they are doing when it comes to disappearing.

I receive emails from people claiming they need to disappear. They usually address the issue of how to delete their online information. They tend to think that ridding the internet of their information is the end all to their disappear problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Information assists with locating a person’s where about but it is the physical information that proves their whereabouts.

Online information is only as accurate as its source. Online information can be untrue. The snoop searching for you needs to figure out how to decipher the truth before they move forward and act with the information.

Another question often asked, is it easier to disappear or more difficult to disappear in the digital age? I believe that it comes down to who is using the technology and who is disappearing. It is a chess game, no more, no less. Although those that have the larger budget do own the better odds in the game of hide and seek.

Way back when in my days of skip tracing (finding people) and pretext (lying to obtain information) I worked many crazy cases. Some were seriously dangerous and other outright illegal. Which ultimately brought an unwanted visit to my home; I did everything possible to hide my work and home locations.

This is when the idea of becoming a Virtual Entity popped in my head. My goal was to be able to live, work and not fear a bang on the door.

At first, I thought idea of being a Virtual Entity was being on the move and working out of coffee shops and internet cafes. I would spend an hour in one place and move on to another. The funny part is I never considered the possibility that my car GPS could identify my daily track.

I would spend one hour working on a computer in Hermosa Beach and then ride up to Santa Monica, locate another internet café and set up shop. I never allowed myself more than sixty minutes in one location. I never became friendly with the staff and always parked my car off street.

Then I Realized!

One afternoon I am in an internet café and I sign on to a subjects cell phone account and I hit the print button to print out several months of their phone bill.

After I hit print, I walk over to the printer and wait for the printing to begin. The sweet sound of paper shooting out is like the sound of the morning bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

As I am standing and watching the papers flood from the printer, I see the little screen on the printer display how many pages are to be printed and the current time. Then I look up at a very large round clock and next to the clock is a surveillance camera. Smile Frank.

That is when I realized that connections go beyond the computer screen. I created a physical connection from the downloading of the cell phone bills, to the printing and with the time. All caught on camera.

If the cell company sent an investigator to find out who printed the cell phone bill on Wednesday at 2:30 pm. They would have my shocked face staring at the eye in the sky. This was unsettling and unacceptable in my business. This event made me understand that being a Virtual Entity is someone who has no connections to anything physical.

It became standard operating procedure that everything I did I asked myself if I could be connected to whatever it is, I am doing. If the answer were yes, I asked myself how I could accomplish the same task without creating a link. This is how you must think.

If you are driving from point A to point B and you encounter a toll. Driving through the toll creates a physical connection. If you drive five miles around the toll, there is no connection.

You are probably thinking what if there is no other route around the toll. My answer to that is, you should have thought about that before arriving at the toll. The objective is to be Virtual Entity with peace of mind. No one wants to hear the word gotcha!

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

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

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

The Luxembourg Talks…

Is privacy real or are we chasing a grand illusion? Do any of us truly know or understand what privacy means to us as humans? Most of us understand the idea of privacy in an intrusion sense, like foot prints, location services and hacking. Yet, many fall short when discussing the idea of human privacy. Think about it, we protect our computers, mobile phones, data, and assets. Privacy protection appears separate, when maybe we should think of our technology and our self as one.

The key topic of this month’s Luxembourg discussion was how will the pursuit of personal privacy today effect personal privacy in the future? The truth that came out was no one had been thinking of personal privacy in the future. Most admitted when they thought of privacy they thought mostly about business privacy, protecting data and assets. Another question that surfaced is should asset protection go beyond the corporation and into a client’s personal life. Meaning if you are keeping their assets private should you not also consider ways of protecting their personal privacy.

I think privacy needs be re-invented and we must recognize that we are no different than the tools we use. If we download a virus protection for our computer should we not think about how to protect our human actions from intrusion?  Certain intrusions will exist in our life no matter what, however, it is how we operate around these intrusions that are key. Begin thinking about privacy from a as collective and a from long-term perspective. Think beyond the setting up of a corporation, think about you as an asset.

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