First, be smart from the very beginning
September 15, 2016 7:37 AM   Subscribe

The most helpful career advice article ever posted on LinkedIn: "So you think you can fake your own death?" by Elizabeth Greenwood, author of the new book Playing Dead.
posted by Potomac Avenue (35 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
In case faking your own life stops working
posted by thelonius at 7:49 AM on September 15, 2016 [49 favorites]


Story concept: An underworld fixer will, for a large fee, assist you in faking your death. Her reputation grows, because none of her clients are ever exposed or caught. This is of course because instead of painstakingly faking her clients' deaths, she simply kills them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:52 AM on September 15, 2016 [69 favorites]


Is there a copy for people who don't have LinkedIn accounts?
posted by acb at 7:55 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Story concept: An underworld fixer will, for a large fee, assist you in faking your death. Her reputation grows, because none of her clients are ever exposed or caught. This is of course because instead of painstakingly faking her clients' deaths, she simply kills them.

Obvious twist is obvious.
posted by acb at 7:55 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Related: The Flitcraft Parable from The Maltese Falcon
posted by chavenet at 7:56 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am obsessed with people who fake their own death, so now I have a new book to read on the plane this weekend. Awesome! (If something happens to me on that plane, it's not me faking my own death....I mean it.)
posted by xingcat at 7:56 AM on September 15, 2016


Is there a copy for people who don't have LinkedIn accounts?

Hmmm, I can see it while logged out.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:59 AM on September 15, 2016


Anyway here's the best part:

If you don’t file a police report or death certificate, making it look like you are deceased violates no law except perhaps that of good taste. Promoting the idea that you have met an untimely end when in fact you are lazing beachside, paying for your daiquiris with a suitcase full of cash, is perfectly legal.

“In those narrow confines, it wouldn’t create any legal issue,” says Judge Daniel Procaccini, a Rhode Island Superior Court judge who dealt with the legendary disappearance case of Adam Emery. If you even try to rent a bike or apply for a library card with another identity, then you are committing fraud. But to make believe that you are dead poses no crime. “It’s surprising more people don’t do it,” the judge says.


#resumegoals
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


i would fake being dead right now if it meant i didn't have to be at this job with my passive-aggressive office manager

#lunchtimereading
posted by Kitteh at 8:14 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Don't fake your death as a hiking disappearance, please! Do you have any idea how much trouble and even danger people will go through in their attempts to find you? It would be a very selfish way to fall off the map. But then, I suppose running away from one's problems by pretending to be dead is pretty selfish to begin with.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:18 AM on September 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


So, TIL, you can post stories to linkedin. Huh.

Also, Faking your own death in the country you plan to live in after your pseudocide would seem to make it easier to avoid getting caught with a fake passport.

If you can fake your own death on a cruise ship, that'd be a very good start. They are notorious (I understand) for have massive conflicts of interest and vague jurisdictions.
posted by oddman at 8:26 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Article says that raises a ton of suspicions though, most common way to fake it, plus how do you get off the boat? Best way IMO is plan a solo trip to a big city far from your home then just slip away on foot from your hotel.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2016


If you can fake your own death on a cruise ship, that'd be a very good start. They are notorious (I understand) for have massive conflicts of interest and vague jurisdictions.

Or a container ship; many of them have a small number of passenger cabins (just below the number at which regulations kick in, i.e., them having to have staff looking after passengers), and with cut-throat cost cutting in today's globalised marketplace, there would be plenty of cracks to fall through. (The ownership and staffing of the ships is often a cross-jurisdictional mishmash, which would further facilitate this.)
posted by acb at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2016


In case you missed the reference in the post title, here is the now-infamous Ask MeFi answer on how to dispose of a dead body without getting caught.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:38 AM on September 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


If you even try to rent a bike or apply for a library card with another identity, then you are committing fraud. But to make believe that you are dead poses no crime. “It’s surprising more people don’t do it,” the judge says.

I was under the impression that in America, you're allowed to assume whatever name you want so long as it's not for fraudulent purposes. If you rent a bike or get a library card as Superman Jones, and you pay for the bike and return it, and return your library books on time, no law is broken.

How does "I'm Superman Jones" and letting people believe Bob Smith is dead count as illegal if "I'm Superman Jones, previously Bob Smith" is legal? There aren't laws requiring disclosure of previous names or aliases if they aren't asked.
posted by explosion at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Story concept: An underworld fixer will, for a large fee, assist you in faking your death. Her reputation grows, because none of her clients are ever exposed or caught. This is of course because instead of painstakingly faking her clients' deaths, she simply kills them.
posted by Faint of Butt

Obvious twist is obvious.
posted by acb


Then, obviously, the plot doesn't unfold with a twist. Instead, the secret is revealed to the audience fairly early on, and they get to watch the fixer-protagonist forced into more and more elaborate lies and cover-ups as the body count/disappearances increase. The third act could feature her deciding to "vanish" herself and discovering how difficult it really is. Go for suspense rather than surprise.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


Don't fake your death as a hiking disappearance, please! Do you have any idea how much trouble and even danger people will go through in their attempts to find you? It would be a very selfish way to fall off the map. But then, I suppose running away from one's problems by pretending to be dead is pretty selfish to begin with.

If anyone wants a real‐world example of the lengths kind strangers will go through in an attempt to find your body, read Tom Mahood’s pages (one of his searches was previously on the blue)

He’s logged 907 miles to date on one search, and he’s just one (unusually persistent, granted) man.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 9:01 AM on September 15, 2016


.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:06 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would read Faint of Butt's book in a hot second.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Article says that raises a ton of suspicions though,"

Yes but cruiseships (or maritime deaths in general as Cash4Lead suggests) are such a clusterf@#% of jurisdictions that investigations are particularly difficult. And I suspect, that falling off a ship in the middle of the Atlantic is the one time that (water death) bodies aren't found very often. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2040248/Why-165-people-gone-missing-cruise-ships-recent-years.html

Of course, the idea is that it would only look like a maritime death. You'd get off at port (or something like that). It's admittedly tricky!
posted by oddman at 9:10 AM on September 15, 2016


Quote: Story concept: An underworld fixer will, for a large fee, assist you in faking your death. Her reputation grows, because none of her clients are ever exposed or caught. This is of course because instead of painstakingly faking her clients' deaths, she simply kills them.
posted by Faint of Butt

Obvious twist is obvious.
posted by acb

Then, obviously, the plot doesn't unfold with a twist. Instead, the secret is revealed to the audience fairly early on, and they get to watch the fixer-protagonist forced into more and more elaborate lies and cover-ups as the body count/disappearances increase. The third act could feature her deciding to "vanish" herself and discovering how difficult it really is. Go for suspense rather than surprise. End Quote

Or then again it turns out all those bodies she has been disposing of are all those people she has murdered in order to steal their identities to give to the people who paid her to disappear. Or alternatively they are (mostly) all still alive, but now living in a supposedly abandoned copper mine fulfilling her strange and twisted fantasies of a perfect society in which they never get to see the sun and support her by designing websites and doing piecework.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:29 AM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Remember not to muddle disappearing with faking your own death. Disappearing in a big city or in a wilderness is one thing. The whole point of faking your own death is so that people will stop looking for you. If you simply step off the Appalachian Trail they are going to keep looking for you and that includes for that tiny sign that someone has googled you, or used your SIN number just in case someone found your backpack with your wallet in it. The whole point of faking your death is so that nobody will notice if someone looks like you or acts like you or sounds like you.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:32 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Faint of Butt's concept reminds me of the Frankenheimer film "Seconds".
posted by rmd1023 at 9:33 AM on September 15, 2016


"Or alternatively they are (mostly) all still alive, but now living in a supposedly abandoned copper mine fulfilling her strange and twisted fantasies of a perfect society in which they never get to see the sun and support her by designing websites and doing piecework."

So replace "her" with "Mathowie", figure that Jessamyn was disappeared years ago and has been replaced by a series of Q-&-A algorithms and complex switchbacks, and Metafilter ends up looking a whole lot darker.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Story concept: An underworld fixer will, for a large fee, assist you in faking your death. Her reputation grows, because none of her clients are ever exposed or caught. This is of course because instead of painstakingly faking her clients' deaths, she simply kills them.

Reminded me of a story which turns out to be this one.
posted by atoxyl at 11:32 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was under the impression that in America, you're allowed to assume whatever name you want so long as it's not for fraudulent purposes. If you rent a bike or get a library card as Superman Jones, and you pay for the bike and return it, and return your library books on time, no law is broken.

Good luck doing 99% of things involving money without a legal ID.

If it were this easy, trans people wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars to change their names. I can tell everyone my name is Kevin, but when I have to pick up a prescription, I need an ID that says "Kevin" on it. I can't do that without legally changing my name, which involves legally changing my birth certificate and social security card, etc.

Maybe that was all covered in the FPP link but LinkedIn won't let me access it.
posted by AFABulous at 11:43 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some trans people go stealth (never tell anyone they're trans), which is essentially like faking your own death, but it's very hard in the age of the Internet. Most people don't want to cut ties with literally anyone they ever knew before transition.
posted by AFABulous at 11:44 AM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


> story concept

...but then, one day, the ghosts of all the people she's killed turn up at her house. Hilarity ensues! Starring Adam Sandler.
posted by parm at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Don't fake your death as a hiking disappearance, please!

You're right of course. Staging a catastrophic gas explosion that takes half a dozen innocents with me will be way more believable.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 12:27 PM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Obvious twist is obvious.
posted by acb


But the one twist the killer didn't count on... falling in love! /"Solsbury Hill"
posted by SPrintF at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


First, consider what you're trying to accomplish and whether it's actually necessary to fake your own death to accomplish that.

The author notes that her interest in the subject first occurred to her as and idle notion of a way to escape student debt: "I fantasized about finding a sun-bleached country with a rickety government and no extradition policy and just slipping through the cracks, disappearing without a trace. "

But I would suggest that if you're just trying to escape debt, it's not necessary to either disappear or fake your death. Find that sun-bleached country that still operates primarily on cash, and you're good to go. Get a job at a some mom-and-pop small business that operates only in that country, and pays in cash, and what, exactly, are your creditors going to do? You don't need to fake your death, don't need to disappear, don't even need to hide — you can send your creditors your new address, for all you care. Let them send all the "collection notices" they want. "No extradition policy" isn't even a requirement for the country — defaulting on your debt is a civil cause of action, not a criminal one; and with no crime, no extradition.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:15 PM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you cultivate a sufficiently pessimistic and depressive personal image, all you have to do is miss an appointment and half of everybody will guess you're dead.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:22 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Jubey at 4:32 PM on September 15, 2016


When I got a library card I had to show legal ID AND a bill with matching name on it.

Sure, it's fine to fake dead, but you have to show ID at what, 80% of anywhere you go or anything you do any more, so....
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:46 PM on September 15, 2016


Cash4Lead: "In case you missed the reference in the post title, here is the now-infamous Ask MeFi answer on how to dispose of a dead body without getting caught."

Yes, I was just writing up a post about this article using the very same title.

There's only so many clever references to go around, I guess.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:56 PM on September 15, 2016


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