Frank M. Ahearn, a professional skip-tracer who is trained to find you, has first-hand insights on what dumb things not to do to protect your pride, your privacy, and your assets.
Most Saturday afternoons I head to the local bookstore. I love to watch people reading books about offshore banking, hiding assets, and how to disappear. It's usually your typical middle-aged guy dreaming about a new life. I watch as they get caught up in their imaginary world. Their eyes light up at the thought of leaving all their troubles behind. Reading all those great stories about beach front living, escaping into oblivion, hiding your assets, not paying taxes. However, not one of those books shares the flip side. They don't tell you about the skip-tracer, who sits in his office and is paid to find people who have done what you are doing (or are dreaming of doing).
A little tidbit on skip-tracers; we do it because there is an adrenaline rush in what we do. Even better, I get to bill my client and make some money. As we say in my office, 'its all about the Benjamins'. If your name comes across my desk and the money is right, you are in the hunt. I will spend my day finding your mistakes, be it through the utility company, the cable TV Company, or that collect call from Cabo San Lucas to your sister Edith. I have found many people from Boston to Bali. Usually I find them because of the littlest mistake they made before they departed, or while they were basking in the sun. Let me share a few cases in point for you to think about. There was this woman from Beverly Hills who called her doctor and asked him to have her medical records shipped to Anquilla. A gentleman from New Jersey stole money from his company, hid in the Dominican Republic, and then had Barnes & Noble change his shipping address to his beach-front condo. The list goes on and on. When you pick up and leave, to escape your creditors or for other reasons, there are companies out there like Ahearn Group, and many other excellent ones, that love the challenge. To skip-tracers it's a game we get paid to play. We can make as many mistakes as we want. On the other hand, the one mistake you make is the one that is most likely to lead us to you. Sit back, take some notes, and understand the game from my point of view.
Laying The Ground
Most people read a book then pick up and go. They simply disconnect their services with no forwarding and leave. Big mistake; take your time and allow the coming months to assist you in your venture. Okay, first step, do not use your home, work or cell phone, and do not use your calling card. Do not use any of your credit cards to purchase anything in the area you are going to escape to. Your plan should be actioned at least six months before you hit the road. In the meantime have all of your services, such as cable, electric, phone bills forwarded to any GPO in the country. Call those companies every month to get your balances and pay them. Make sure all the bills go to different states. Have a little fun. One month have the company in question send your bill to Oshkosh, the next month, to Bogota, New Jersey. Let them know they have the wrong Social Security number on file and have them change it. Next month give them your cousin Henry's phone number in Toronto, in case they need to reach you. The key here is to load your account with so much information you are actually creating misinformation.
Go online and get yourself a Jfax (www.jfax.com) account. For $9.99 per month you can get from Jfax a phone number in any state or almost in any country. When someone calls your Jfax number, which will have your personalised recording on it, the message will be forwarded to your email address, and you will be able to retrieve that message from anywhere in the world. Make sure the email address you give is a Yahoo or Hotmail address. Pay for your Jfax account for at least one year. This way, in the coming months, there will be no transactions on your credit card. Some skip-tracer trying to identify your number will only be able to get an email address from Jfax. What's also great about Jfax is, if you need to, you can fax directly from the Internet. Do not do any of your searching from your home or work computer. Go to an Internet café to do all of your research.
Creating A Smoke Screen
Go buy yourself a prepaid cell phone and never give anybody the number. Make sure you can dial international with the cell phone. If not buy a prepay calling card and throw it away when done, do not reload it at a later date, use a new prepay card. With the prepaid cell phone get a phone number that has an area code in another state. When you order your prepay cell phone pay cash and give a different name. Never call anybody with that phone, the number might show up on his or her caller ID.
When you start calling the place to where you're going to escape, use your prepay cell number or calling card. Dump that phone every month, yes the actual phone, and get yourself a new one; a different number with a different area code from the original. By doing this, no one will be able to track the location from where you called. Remember, if you make one call from your home, work or cousin's house, that is all I need to locate you.
Get yourself a locker and leave all your 'offshore' equipment and incriminating documentation in the locker, never bring this stuff home or to work. If you accidentally toss something incriminating in the trash and someone is searching through it, they will find it. When you are ready to leave you can empty your locker and destroy all information that can lead to a trail.
Go online and get a mailbox from Mailbox Etc.(www.mailboxetc.com). Open up a corporation online in the state you have a mailbox. Have all mail sent to the corporation address. Make that address your service of process and your registered agent. When you have all your corporate information, take a trip to that state. When you go to the bank, you will sit down and open the account. The person opening the account will call Telecheck, to find out if you have any overdrafts with other banks. The bank attendant will run your name and will find a record of you opening an account in that state. So any skip-tracer with half a brain will find that account and locate your mailbox at Mailbox Etc. Give the person you open the account with your Mailbox Etc. address Do not give them a valid phone number or one of your prepaid numbers. Tell them the number won't be in service till next week.
Once you have opened your bank account, contact Idealogic (www.idealogic.com) in Canada and have them open a Canadian corporation for you. Give Idealogic all your information from the above chosen state. Once you receive all your Canadian information, open an account with BMO (www.bmo.com) which they should do via mail or possibly online; if not, Montreal is always great during the music festival. Once you have all of the necessary papers have Idealogic, BMO and your bank in the chosen state forward everything to your Mailbox Etc. address. When all is said and done, have all of your mail from the Mailbox Etc. shipped to you, and when all papers are in hand from the Mailbox Etc. address, do a mail forward. To New York, then from New York to Chicago, to Atlanta. Create a big loop. Do all your banking online. The bank will be happy not to mail you your statements. Remember always access your accounts from an Internet café,
You can then transfer money from the US to Canada, then to your chosen offshore haven. Belize is a good place. They do not adhere to MLAT (mutual legal assistance treaty). Never use the ATM card from your US account; never use the ATM card from your Canadian account. Use these accounts as buffers for your chosen offshore haven.
Leave No Footprints
One time I was searching for an individual who for the life of me I could not find. Neither forwarding, nor any credit trace update. No transfer of motor vehicle, then it dawned on me that this person must have flown to his destination. So I checked the airlines and bingo, there it was, his frequent flyer account. On his last trip he had miles added to his account and I knew exactly where he went. Avoid this gaffe, pay for your ticket in cash at the airport.
Don't use your frequent flier account. Cancel your blockbuster membership. Do not transfer any of your magazine subscriptions. If you are receiving any type of direct deposit from the government or retirement, do it through the above account you opened. Don't get a library card in your new location. Do not get cable service under your name. Do everything through the name of your foreign corporation. Make sure your foreign corporation has no name similarities to your name, or anything from your past. Calling family and friends is a touchy issue, depending on your personal situation. With technology today, if you call someone from Costa Rica, say, you just don't know if your number will show up on their caller ID. If it does and they happen to call you back, someone will be able to track you. All your effort and hard work will go out the window. If you need to be in touch, get yourself another prepay cell phone from a different area and call those you need to speak to with that. Dump the phone every so often. The above pointers are basic rules that will help you to disappear. Take your time, do your research, and enjoy the beach.
About The Author
Frank Ahearn is considered the leader in phone listings and international skip tracing (www.ahearn.bz). If you want to dissapear or to find someone who has disappeared, Frank is the man to talk to. Visit his website for contact info. [If you do contact Frank, be sure to ask him what he'll do if someone pays him to find you; after you've paid him to help you disappear - Ed ]
"To skip-tracers it's a game we get paid to play. "
"So I checked the airlines and bingo, there it was, his frequent flyer account."