Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wanna Get Away?

American Scofflaw

I have a buddy who's a commercial pilot, and every now and again we talk about how, if we were serious enough, it would be fairly easy to just up and leave our current life -- to literally extract ourselves from polite society and free ourselves from the heavy hand of the state and its goon squad. In other words, to "disappear."

"You'd be amazed at how much unpopulated territory there is out there," he says, "mostly out in the midwest and beyond." He's flown over it all many times over and insists it wouldn't be too difficult to squat somewhere, build a house, and basically start over. Clearly it would take some doing -- and it would be helpful to be independently wealthy -- but set yourself up with some untraceable phone and internet connections, and you'd be on your way.

Admittedly, for as much as I detest the entire catalog of government violence, such an undertaking would probably be pretty cost prohibitive for me and my family at this point. But it's telling that I've seriously thought about it. Several times.

At this point, I'd be more apt to buy 100 acres in Montana or Wyoming -- or maybe shuffle off to a Caribbean island somewhere -- and remain visible, but at least minimize the influence of the nanny and police states. But if you're in a position to make the leap and you've got the will power, there's a man who might be able to help.

Frank Ahearn, the world's leading "privacy expert," has just published a guide called, How to Disappear and Fall off the Grid. Ahearn specializes in helping people avoid "stalkers, kidnappers, violent partners or the Mob," but certainly his advice might come in handy for folks looking to slip off Big Brother's radar too.

One easy route to anonymity is to establish an International Business Corporation. IBCs, available in many countries, are both legal and allow for complete secrecy with directors and officers of the corporation not having to be listed. An IBC enables you to open an offshore bank account and get a so-called “black” credit card in its name, keeping your personal shopping history anonymous.

Surely this option is only open to the rich and financially literate? Not so, says Ahearn. “Anybody can set one up with, say, $5,000 [£3,500], and you can even do it online.” There are other ways to keep you off unwanted radar. For around $12 a month (£8), you can set up a JFAX or eFax account which means you can get a local phone number in almost any country. When someone calls that number, the message will be forwarded to your e-mail address. Nobody will know where you are. Use prepaid phones, internet cafés, and pay for flights in cash. “Anybody can do this,” Ahearn says. “I can make people hard to find, but fake identities I don’t do. They don’t work, and most times they are illegal.”

Neither will he help fake people’s deaths, a process known as “pseudocide”, much in the news since swindling canoeist John Darwin and his wife Anne were jailed last year for faking his death in a £250,000 life insurance fraud. “Having all those photographs taken of themselves in Panama was a pretty dumb thing to do,” Ahearn says dismissively. “After the Darwins were arrested, I got a lot of e-mails from people in the UK asking me to fix it for them to fake their death and disappear, but I’m just helping genuine folks get a little more privacy from those they don’t want to know, and to help them stay off the radar.”

For more information on how to disappear, visit Frank's website.

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Favorite Scofflaw Movies

  • The Godfather
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Dirty Harry
  • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  • The Treasure of The Sierra Madre
  • The Long Good Friday
  • Pacific Heights
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Highway61
  • Duel
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • Glengarry Glenn Ross