How to disappear completely
May 6, 2011 3:40 AM   Subscribe

How to disappear completely: Almost everyone has a digital footprint these days. Think you could remove your tracks? Frank Ahearn worked as a skip tracer for years, but now he helps folks drop off the face of the Earth, those who want to disappear and erase evidence of their existence. "So, what we do in a nutshell, is make you a virtual entity where you work for this corporation. You lease your apartment through this corporation, your electricity, your phone. Everything about you exists under the corporation. The address doesn't have to be in the same city you're in. The goal is to make you virtual and have you communicate virtually through this corporation. "
posted by Blake (40 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
saw you on the street
as if by chance
but now i know you choreographed it
like a little dance
guess i'd have to wonder why
you'd come back around here
was it to watch me
as i slowly disappear?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:54 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So that is their formula? The classic shell-company? That's old news for shady companies and divorced men hiding assets. Takes real money to keep that going, too.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:57 AM on May 6, 2011


Oh, and sorry to just link to my song, without also saying that this little interview is really interesting. Cause it is really interesting. Thanks for the post!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:59 AM on May 6, 2011


Can't wait to share this with my 500 friends on facebook.
posted by Hickeystudio at 4:21 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not on Facebook. Do I exist?

On Twitter I'm a parrot.
posted by Splunge at 4:40 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like that within the article that talks about buying books on disappearing using a credit card is dumb, yet it has a link to Ahearn's book on Amazon. Very hard to pay cash at Amazon.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:20 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very hard to pay cash at Amazon.

Only if your local coinstar doesn't emit Amazon gift cards, and your local grocery store isn't spamming you with Amazon gift cards at every corner.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:50 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


buying books on disappearing using a credit card is dumb

Only if it's your credit card.

Same goes for the shipping address.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:54 AM on May 6, 2011


...buying books on disappearing using a credit card is dumb...

Only if you are the one disappearing; perhaps you are wanting to find someone who has used the advice in the book.
posted by TedW at 6:06 AM on May 6, 2011


But I thought corporations were people?!
posted by Skeptic at 6:16 AM on May 6, 2011


But I thought corporations were people?!

no, they're made out of people.
posted by dubold at 6:33 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


no, they're made out of people.

You know what else was made out of people? Soylent Green.
posted by dortmunder at 6:39 AM on May 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


For all of the ways you can make your money relatively hard to trace, it is quite difficult to make receipt of physical goods the same.
posted by adipocere at 6:42 AM on May 6, 2011


But I thought corporations were people?!

They are other people -- not you -- which is how this scheme works.
posted by notyou at 7:09 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


If only Bin Laden had contacted them a few weeks ago...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 AM on May 6, 2011


If only Bin Laden had contacted them a few weeks ago...

Hey, maybe he did, and Frank Ahearn just decided that the CIA would be best at making the client... disappear.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:21 AM on May 6, 2011


Hey, maybe he did, and Frank Ahearn just decided that the CIA would be best at making the client... disappear.

[Flapjax puts on sunglasses]

YEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:24 AM on May 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


How Not to be Seen
posted by 0bvious at 7:27 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I anticipate an upcoming movie, starring someone like Keanu Reeves about a guy disappearing into an underworld of analogue information, on the run from authorities, unless somone, somewhere has reinterpreted one of the Matrix sequels this way, or decided that Johnny Mnemonic was actually worth a damn.

"It's sort of a Blade Runner-meets-Midnight Express thing, via Jeunet and Aranofsky. it takes place in New York, Monrovia and Shanghai and we can save money by substituting teleporters for all of the airports..."
posted by vhsiv at 7:35 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


All you have to do to disappear these days is piss off google somehow.
posted by srboisvert at 7:51 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who comes to you looking for help with disappearing?
Clients typically come from two kinds of scenarios: Money or violence. Violence is usually a victim of stalker or in a domestic situation with an abusive ex and not sure how to get away. Then there is the money end of it. People who have come into some money and want to leave the world behind.

posted by vhsiv at 8:00 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The methods he describes would make a great way to fly under the radar if you ever won the lottery.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 8:01 AM on May 6, 2011


this youtube video does not contribute at all to this thread:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vFaoA7t2RE
posted by lulz at 8:07 AM on May 6, 2011


Perhaps a minor spoiler, but this is what the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo does.
posted by dhartung at 8:10 AM on May 6, 2011


I tried to learn how to disappear, but frustratingly, all I managed to do was become invisible. Which sounds awesome right? Get to check out the women's shower, rob banks, all that good stuff? Yeah, number one, you have to be naked. All the time. Ever been naked in Wisconsin in winter? Fuck that. Second, try getting across the street when cars can't see you.

The movies completely got this one wrong. It sucks beyond words.
posted by quin at 8:24 AM on May 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Number one
a) Live in the tropics
b) You get to be naked all the time.

Number two
A little makeup here, a few bandages there and you can reenter normal society at will.

Number three
"Rob banks" -- the floating sacks of money might attract attention. Be creative. You've just gotten yourself free concert tickets for life. Poltergeist Willem Dafoe. Endless amusement just watching yourself eat.

Number four
"check out the women's shower..." Yeah, that's the guy you want to be. Surely there must be invisibility groupies out there somewhere.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:08 AM on May 6, 2011


quin, are you Marcie Ross? If so, how are the assassinations going?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:20 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If corporations are people, how come they can own other corporations?
posted by Eideteker at 9:22 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what? If something is "perhaps" a "minor" spoiler, just don't say it. OK?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:26 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eideteker: "If corporations are people, how come they can own other corporations?"

Some corporations are more equal than other corporations.
posted by Splunge at 9:32 AM on May 6, 2011


LLC showboats.
posted by clavdivs at 9:33 AM on May 6, 2011


Yeah, what stupidsexyFlanders said!
Way to ruin Soylent Green for me, dortmunder! Geez!

hamburger.
posted by zoinks at 9:39 AM on May 6, 2011


Okay, maybe this is a dumb question, but if you form a corporation to protect your identity, who are your corporate officers? Are you one? If not you, who do you trust with running the corporation that basically owns your entire life?

It's trivially easy to find out who the officers of a corporation are, and the same is true w/re partners and LLCs. It's also trivially easy to find out which entities a given person is involved with as an officer or as a partner. The info's available to anyone with five minutes and an internet connection. (If you have to look at multiple states, that time estimate expands to 5 min/state.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:59 AM on May 6, 2011




Yeah, well, the main problem is ending up on this weird island, attacked by giant white balloons while they use psywar tactics to get your resignation code...

Wait...

What were we talking about?
posted by Samizdata at 1:14 PM on May 6, 2011


There are Five Ways of Disappearing.
posted by foonly at 2:31 PM on May 6, 2011


palmcorder_yajna: "... It's trivially easy to find out who the officers of a corporation are, and the same is true w/re partners and LLCs ... "

This is not universally true. Delaware is a popular state to incorporate partly for this reason
posted by ivancho at 2:57 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's trivially easy to find out who the officers of a corporation are, and the same is true w/re partners and LLCs.

This is not always true, but it's also not entirely relevant.

For instance, New Mexico still offers an anonymous LLC, where the partners information does not have to be shared with the state. The person who formed the LLC can be determined, but that person does not have to be one of the managers of the LLC. LLCs in New Mexico can be sold to new managers without further reporting.

Also, an officer of a corporation does not have to be a primary shareholder of the corporation, and not every state requires shareholder information to be registered (e.g. Wyoming). For a reasonable fee, I can hire a Nominee Officer (perhaps my lawyer, for confidentiality purposes?) to be the chairman of my corporate entity. His name is on the state's paperwork, and he collects a fee from the corporation for his services, to act on behalf of the (shielded) shareholder(s).
posted by toxic at 3:56 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I had no idea New Mexico, Wyoming, and Delaware allowed that degree of squirreliness! Thanks for the correction, toxic and ivancho!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:47 PM on May 6, 2011


All you'd need to do is create a bunch of content farms about yourself, all linking to each other, and accepting paid inbound links. Google would drop you quicker than any fake corporation.
posted by greenhornet at 5:45 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


« Older In Soviet Russia, MosFilm posts YOU(tube)   |   Then... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments