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Writer Tries To Vanish

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posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 03:51 PM
I was completely enthralled by this story. I think anyone of us who frequents the survival forum or who has seen Enemy of the State or a Bourne movie has probably daydreamed, brainstormed or actually planned how one might go about doing this.

I view it as an interesting puzzle or a challenge but every now and then you hear a story in the news about someone who actually goes through with it because of financial, criminal or personal reasons. Writer Evan Ratliff did it as a kind of experiment/contest. People were hunting him all of the time. Clearly the draw back to his situation was his on-line presence and the public nature of the challenge.

Still, it would be hard for anyone. For example, in my city there are hundreds of traffic cameras not to mention security cameras at businesses everywhere. It would most definitely have to be a slow build strategy targeting the day you just walked out of your life and you would most certainly have to strictly curtail your on-line activities, including limiting contact with your loved ones, if at all.

August 13, 6:40 PM: I’m driving East out of San Francisco on I-80, fleeing my life under the cover of dusk. Having come to the interstate by a circuitous route, full of quick turns and double backs, I’m reasonably sure that no one is following me. I keep checking the rearview mirror anyway. From this point on, there’s no such thing as sure. Being too sure will get me caught...

The idea for the contest started with a series of questions, foremost among them: How hard is it to vanish in the digital age? Long fascinated by stories of faked deaths, sudden disappearances, and cat-and-mouse games between investigators and fugitives, I signed on to write a story for Wired about people who’ve tried to end one life and start another. People fret about privacy, but what are the consequences of giving it all up, I wondered. What can investigators glean from all the digital fingerprints we leave behind? You can be anybody you want online, sure, but can you reinvent yourself in real life?

It’s one thing to report on the phenomenon of people disappearing. But to really understand it, I figured that I had to try it myself. So I decided to vanish. I would leave behind my loved ones, my home, and my name. I wasn’t going off the grid, dropping out to live in a cabin. Rather, I would actually try to drop my life and pick up another.

Wired offered a $5,000 bounty — $3,000 of which would come out of my own pocket — to anyone who could locate me between August 15 and September 15, say the password “fluke,” and take my picture. Nicholas Thompson, my editor, would have complete access to information that a private investigator hired to find me might uncover: my real bank accounts, credit cards, phone records, social networking accounts, and email. I’d give Thompson my friends’ contact information so he could conduct interviews. He would parcel out my personal details online, available to whichever amateur or professional investigators chose to hunt for me.

His personal food preferences and dietary requirements gave him away:

The idea for the experiment came from the story of Mathew Alan Sheppard who was suspected of embezzling money from his company and faked his own death to avoid prosecution:

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 04:31 PM
With that kind of money on the line, the man was an idiot. He gave himself away.

The article says, " The Vanish Team's insanely aggressive search software identified what seemed to be Ratliff's fingerprints in a Web site in New Orleans. It was the site of a pizza joint -- Naked Pizza.

The Vanish Team knew it was closing in when the software reported that the browser that appeared to be Ratliff kept returning to the Web site's dietary page . . . the page that explains the benefits of Naked Pizza's gluten-free pizza crust.

Gluten-free, as in: Wheat free.

They had Ratliff in their sights."

His "fingerprint were on a website" he should have known that to disappear he needs not only change his looks but his habits as well. This includes using the internet and posting on web sites. These are the first 2 things you should learn when trying to vanish. He didn't do his research good enough. he deserves to lose his money.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 04:34 PM
Interesting thread. I can't help but note that 99% of the writers out there are stuggling in this economy to do the opposite of "vanishing," though.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 12:07 AM
Notice that his editors kept making him do stuff that obviously helped give him away. I think if he were truly in hiding, he would have vanished completely. It's not even that hard to hide on the Internet. Get yourself a cheap-o laptop with a wireless card, do your browsing from stolen wi-fi, use proxies, and so on.

You can even continue posting on all your favorite sites... just never log into two different sites from the same IP or using the same login information.

Also, they made him keep using his bank and such. That's a big flaw right there. A person truly in hiding would have to ditch the banks, credit cards, and so-on.

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