How to Disappear Part 1 – Dismantling your Identity

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You can call me John. About 10 years ago I was left with 2 options in life. (1) Face serious tax evasion charges from the IRS that guaranteed a lengthy federal prison sentence. (2) Fake my own death, leave the country, and start over as a new man. Needless to say, I chose the latter.

I built a successful business in my early 20’s. In fact, the business became too successful for my own good. Without going into detail, I wasn’t paying my taxes in a manner that was satisfactory with Uncle Sam. Unwilling to give up my freedom, I decided to fight the machine, no matter the consequences. A choice I realize that I must live with until the day I die. I have evaded my opponents with diligent planning and disciplined execution. After years of close calls, extreme paranoia, and loneliness I have finally reached my goal of absolute comfort in a new life. I write this article today to help others secure freedom from an opponent with unlimited resources, the United States of America.

You might think I’m selfish, running from my problems, or just a plain coward, but you’re wrong. I’ve already suffered immensely for my so-called crimes, despite the fact my actions produced neither victims nor suffering upon the world. I urge all to fight for what is morally right no matter how powerful of an opponent you face.

1. Planning and Preparation

There are several prerequisites you must meet before you can disappear without a trace. Meticulous planning is the key to vanishing successfully. Failing to plan properly in any of the areas listed below will leave you vulnerable and limited in options.

1.1. Reasons for Vanishing

People cite a wide range of reasons to vanish. Perhaps you are wanted for a crime, overwhelmed with debt, leaving an abusive relationship, or just starting over. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to understand that this is a permanent choice. The old you will become nothing than a distant a memory. The goal of How to Vanish Part 1 is to get you prepared for this monumental event in your life. An monumental task requires even more monumental planning to pull off successfully.

1.2 Who is Chasing You? Know your Enemy

The urgency and aggressiveness of your pursuers will dictate your actions. If the entire police force is on a manhunt for you, your ability to escape is far more limited than the average person. Or, if you are constantly under surveillance, you will need to find a way to shake it before moving forward. Consider the resources of your opponent carefully and try to predict their course of action for capturing you.

I was in the process of being audited by the IRS. After several tense conversations with a tax lawyer, we concluded that I was completely fucked. I owed an amount of money that my business would not even come close to supporting. However, I had not disclosed all documents at this point and was making every attempt to stall their efforts. This was not a situation I ever intending on creating. It was just the result of gaining too much financial success too soon, of which I will admit I managed very poorly.

Luckily, time was on my side. The investigation was still at least a month or two from being finished, and I wasn’t a criminal at this point.  I had time to lay the groundwork for an escape before I was arrested or put under constant surveillance.

1.3 Raising Money

Without sufficient capital to finance your disappearance, you will have few options for transportation, shelter, and clothing.

Cash Only. All money must be kept in cash, or tangible assets like platinum, gold, diamonds, etc. It is crucial that you do not use credit cards, debit cards, or any other electronic payment type after you have disappeared.

Exhaust all credit lines. If you have credit cards you should max them out in exchange for items that can be converted into cash. When you are declared deceased or missing, this debt cannot be inherited by your family. However, assets left in your estate can be used to pay outstanding debts.

Empty out retirement and 401K savings. You will never be able to access this money after your vanish. You’re best bet is to liquidate these accounts and covert the funds into cash. If you do not empty these accounts, they will be used to pay of outstanding debt left over in your estate.

Buy small valuable assets. Visit your local coin collector’s store and use your credit cards to purchase gold and platinum bullion coins. An ounce of either gold or platinum is worth about $1,700 at the time of writing this article. It is easy to disguise these valuable assets in a coin purse with other loose change. When you’re on the move, you will attract suspicion if you are found carrying a large amount of cash. In addition, you are required to declare cash when you travel with amounts over $5,000. However, it’s unlikely prying eyes will spot platinum sitting in a bag of dirty old quarters. These coins can be converted into cash readily in most parts of the world.

Create an insolvent estate. Your goal is to create an estate that is high in debt and low in assets. The only way to accomplish this is to empty funds for accounts in your name and convert them to the tangible assets above. Check out this article for an idea about what will happen to your estate.

Do not buy supplies you plan to use after your disappearance.  If you’re seen buying clothing, vehicles, or other supplies before you disappear, these items will serve as clues to help your pursuers track you down. Believe me, no stone will be left unturned, especially if you are dealing with federal law enforcement agencies.

Leaving money behind. If you are leaving family behind, you will probably be compelled to leave them with some financial security. In most cases, life insurance is the best way accomplish this goal. Keep in mind, your death must be caused by an accident or homicide in order for a life insurance policy to pay the beneficiaries. Death by suicide will invalidate your life insurance policy.

Destroy Magnetic Cards. Get rid of any credit cards, ATM cards, library cards, gas cards, etc. Swiping a magnetic card will give authorities your exact location anywhere in the world within minutes. Every It’s not even worth the risk of carrying these cards with you while you run. Max them out, then destroy them. The federal government has a sophisticated method of tracking financial instruments available to fugitives. Think you can outsmart it? Good luck.

1.4. Acquiring False Identification

Having exceptional fake travel documents will make your movement much easier abroad. It is well worth the time and effort to acquire the highest quality identification possible. The best plan of action for acquiring these documents is to steal or hijack somebody’s identity. When done correctly, you will have completely valid and authentic documentation for the new you. Just make sure not to use the identity for anything financially, as this will grab the attention of the authorities.

Step 1. Acquire a Social Security Number, Name, Date of Birth, and Birth Location.

If you have access to records of personal information at work, great! If not, you will need to find a way to get this information. Stealing a dead person’s identity is often the best bet. Look at the obituaries for someone of similar age to yourself. They often post important details about the person in the obituary, such as date of birth, location, and name. From there, you just need to get the SSN. If you have money, background checks and private investigators can obtain this information for you.

Step 2. A Secret Mailing Address.

Having these documents mailed to your primary residence will immediately link your old self to your new self. Open an account at a UPS store or other private mailbox location using an alias or hijacked corporate name. Search the Secretary of State website for your state for active corporate names in the area. Always pay for your mailbox services in cash and make sure the box is located a significant distance from your known residence, in a different county or state if possible.

Step 3. Birth Certificate. 

The birth certificate is the best document to start out with because it is relatively easy to obtain and can be used to acquire the other documents listed below. When I started at this, I simply called the county clerk after seeing an obituary and said I need a birth certificate mailed to my new address. A week later, it was in my mailbox. Today, I suspect this will be more difficult due to growing concerns with identity theft. However, there are many websites online that will order birth certificates provided to have the SSN and other personal information.

Step 4. State ID or Drivers License.

When you’ve acquired your birth certificate, it’s time apply for a drivers license at the DMV. In addition, a simple state ID or drivers license that matches your fake passport is a valuable item to have. Ideally, it should be issued by a state that you are not associated with. In my case, I lived in California, but my newly acquired ID was issued from Georgia.

Step 5. Passport.

Because you are traveling internationally, a valid passport is the single most important document to obtain. . With birth certificate and drivers license in hand, you can now obtain a valid US Passport by simply filling out an application and going to your local post office.

Step 6. Medical and Immunization Records.

Medical records are good to have for your own personal wellbeing and sometimes necessary to enter certain countries. Simply take your own medical records and put them forge them into records that match your new identity. This is as simple as scanning the records into a digital file, using Photoshop to alter the details, and printing them out.

1.5 Your Looks, Style, and Moves

Before you depart, it’s important to consider your appearance. You must avoid being spotted by friends, relatives, or the authorities when on the run. Try to correlate your appearance with your new identity. For example, if your new identity is from Decatur, Georgia, learn everything you can about the city and how people act and talk there.

We will go into much greater detail about disguising your appearance in the 4th installment of this article, so stay tuned… For now, all you need to do is shed any easily recognizable artifacts from your body such as jewelry, piercings, unique clothing or shoes, and eye-glasses.

1.6 Leaving a Trail of False Breadcrumbs

At some point, your pursuers will realize you have fled and start hunting you down. They will look into all areas of your life for clues to your current whereabouts. Your goal is to leave clues, but clues that simply confuse the hell out of them. Ideally, you should leave them with a pile of information so complex that it sends them on all sorts of wild goose chases. If you are facing aggressive pursuers (aka Law Enforcement), this step is of utmost importance. Forcing the opposition to spread its resources thin will buy you valuable time.

Phone calls.  In the weeks leading up to my disappearance, I used my home phone, business phone, and cell phone to leave clues. First, I made multiple international phone calls to several apartments in Europe and Central America, although I had no intention on going to these places. I spoke to apartment managers and made realistic inquiries to about price and availability. I followed up these calls several times to ensure my phone records showed strong interest to visiting these places.

Credit Reports. Apply for apartments, bank accounts, or other services that will run a credit check on you. You can be assured your pursuers will be watching your credit history closely.

Security Cameras. Security cameras are watching you constantly. Use them to your advantage by appearing at locations that throw off your enemy. For example, go to shuttle company that goes to Mexico or Canada.

Hotel Reservations. I made a handful of hotel reservations around the world prior to leaving. Most hotels only require a credit card to reserve a room, but don’t charge until the day of your reservation. Make sure to take this step before you max out your cards to raise cash.

Electronic Data. Eventually, or perhaps currently, your personal email and Internet browsing history will be accessed and monitored. You can treat this information the same as you would phone calls. Network with people about your phony plans and create leads that will make your true destination al the more difficult to determine.

Library. I checked out (and never did return) several travel books related, again, to travel in Europe and Central America. Not sure if they ever caught this lead, but I think it was a nice touch.

1.6 Airline Vouchers and Gift Cards

You will not have any magnetic cards in your possession while on the run, which sometimes makes buying airline tickets difficult. It’s possible to pay for international airfare in cash, but this often results in additional screening in our post 9/11 world. Purchasing airline vouchers in advance will essentially serve as a gift certificate for your travel. Unlike credit cards, it will be difficult for authorities to track the use of airline vouchers. By now it should go without saying, but always use cash to buy airline vouchers.

Summary

If you are serious about vanishing forever, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind:

  • Keep a cool head. Don’t allow paranoia and panic to get the best of you. Nothing good will ever come from panicking.
  • The life you are leaving behind is gone forever, so don’t even bother thinking about it. You must live for the future now.
  • Don’t take shortcuts. All it takes is one little mistake for the authorities to nail you.
  • Cash is king. Using anything other than cash after your disappearance carries a significant amount of risk.

Now that you’re prepared, the next step is to fake your own death. This will be covered extensively in the next article.