skip trace

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
www.FrankAhearn.com

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

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