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A "Disappearer" sells the service of taking people and giving them new lives and identities. The Disappearer doesn't want to reveal identity to avoid being interrogated by the police or worse, tortured by criminal organisations that want to find missing persons.

Someone with this activity would have to gain trust from potential clients and be known as reliable. This means that if you knew someone that used that service, that someone was never found ever, so the disappearance worked. But logically, most people that used the service, never told anyone.

But the Disappearer could as well just kill clients and efficiently dispose bodies.

If a former client is captured several years after, and shows good health, it could prove that the Disappearer doesn't kill clients, but it would also show that the disappearance wasn't that good.

In a world like ours, how would that kind of professional build reputation, advertise and eventually be successful?

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    $\begingroup$ People in need of such a service usually do not have the luxury to be worrying about customer satisfaction. In a world like ours people use services from people like this because they have to. It is most often a wild guess that balances mostly on hope and/or the importance of money and when payment is made. Eg. hitman takes half upfront, half when it is done. Or people paying smugglers to smuggle them across borders, these people throw all their money at them in a wild gamble to reach their destination in decent health. $\endgroup$ – Robin Oct 18 at 9:21
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Someone like this is unlikely to freelance on their own. They probably work on commission for a drug lord or other underworld figure who sends them people who need to be "laundered" like known hitmen and other shady figures. The drug lord in question will likely want to have contacts with these disappeared people in the future, and so there must be a channel of communication that's kept open. Naturally, the drug lord will know whether this Disappearer is any good at their job, and be in a position to direct other clients to them.

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All they need - is to build enough client base. Exactly like any other network marketing.

You see - clients do not tell anybody that they used this service, but they know of its existance and know that its working perfect for now (for them). And if there are some numbers of them - they will inevitably meet possible clients. And then they can recommend "Disappearer" without mentoning that they are clients. Like, say one of a prison guards tells to sentenced to death, that there is an organization that might help (and even help to arrange the communication). But he doesn't need to tell that he also was sitting in exactly this cell.

With enough clients, they would start forming a public opinion of how reliable this company is.

UPD: If this company is not so reliable, it needs to kill all the clients, who got caught. Then survivorship bias would do its dark statistical "magic" - all who can talk would say that "Disappearer" is always working perfectly.

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Associates

Jobs like this do not exist in a vacuum. The practice of giving people new identities and lives isn't foreign to this world. The thing is that resources are necessary to do something like this. A Disappearer would need associates and people. They might even be part of a larger organization which would fulfill a lot of black market contracts. And the people who are on equal footing with the Disappearer would know whether or not the Disappearer is actually Disappering people or just swapping their shoes for cement ones and changing their address to the bottom of the ocean. So the Disappearer would be just as trustworthy as the people they work with. So, for instance, a gang member would use the Disappearer his gang associates with. A rich businessman would never trust said Disappearer, but if his billionaire friend recommended someone else, he'd use him.

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Provide proof of success testimonials from prior customers. For example if you disappear someone from new york then 2 years later set up a safe phone call between them and old family or friends.

Alternatively offer other services too and be reliable in those so that your overall reputation is not dependent only on disappearing people.

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