Question inspired by a book I just finished: Dan Brown's Inferno

Suppose I am a wealthy billionaire who wants to hide from the outside world for a year.

Plot twist is, that the world's anti-terrorist organizations think that I might be wanting to use that time to create something very awful, like a doomsday device.

And the CIA is right: I am a mad scientist and billionaire, and I need a year of privacy to create my doomsday device (and then release it and... mhahahaha!).

While I certainly know how to make money and doomsday devices, I do not know how to stay hidden from the CIA for a year. But I am willing to pay for it.

Suppose I can spend 500 million US dollars to be hidden from the CIA. But I do not want to be just hidden. I need to meet certain people and make certain things and place it in a very specific place (And also create a riddle for Robert Langdon to solve it).

It means I will need to travel the world. I will spend money on buying shady things. I will need a laboratory to develop my doom device. I will need to visit highly frequented places, because I will be later on hunted by Robert Langdon, Oxford professor specialized in symbols and symbolics.

I want to start working on my doomsday device "tomorrow" (Earth, current technology).

Am I able to actually pull it off?

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    $\begingroup$ Secret moon base. Just... secret moon base. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Nahshonpaz do note that the dark^wback side of the moon is already taken. But maybe you can achieve an agreement, if you provide the inhabitants with a steady supply of smartphones. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Nahshonpaz OutOfMoneyException: The cost of the Apollo 11 mission was 355 million, which works out to well over 1.3 billion in 1994 dollars. I have 500 million of 2016 dollars :( $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ Sigh, secret volcano lair it is, then $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ Nice try, Elon. $\endgroup$
    – Fiksdal
    Dec 12, 2016 at 12:50

10 Answers 10


If you're a billionaire and already under the focus of the TLA Agencies, best how to disappear for a year is... not to disappear. If you'd suddenly disappear from today to tomorrow a dozen of alerts will go of with every single agency, not only from the government. Even more if you're already known as a mad man.

So you need a perfectly instructed body double to play your role while you wander of to some frankensteinish castle and build your doomsday device. Since you still make your public appearance no one will come looking for you.

Prior to that, you may need to get rid of some family and close friends, since they, as long as not involved in your plan, may blow your cover by revealing details that'll make some TLA Agencies taking a closer look. (Oh myyyy, Pavel is left handed, but yesterday he signed the contract with the right hand).


If you're a billionaire just be a good person to others, become the Tony Stark of your world, providing peace and joy and nice tools for everyone at reasonable prices. Build a new cancer research center, invest in new alternative energy projects no one will suspect you plotting evil, when you acquire $EVIL_RESOURCE, because you need this for your next generation gardening device.

"Oh and that evil looking machine there?"

  • "Not to worry dear innocent person, this is a new generation of Kitchen-Aid with plutionium based batteries, completely safe."
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    $\begingroup$ "perfectly instructed body double" -> "Oh myyyy, Pavel is left handed, but yesterday he singed[sic] the contract with the right hand" The point about having to not disappear is very true though. $\endgroup$
    – monoRed
    Dec 12, 2016 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ In 2015 you can buy plutonium in the drug store, so no problem. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Nice one, Sadaam had 8 or more so it is said. I wonder if it was indeed his double that was shown. :P $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2016 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ love the Tony Stark Approach! Especially as this gives you a role model keeps almost triggering doomsday without even trying! $\endgroup$
    – Layna
    Dec 15, 2016 at 13:23

By doing it every couple of years in some totally innocent way. Some years you spend sailing in the Southern Ocean, some years you spend 6 months skiing in the Alps or solo trekking across the Australian outback.

Eventually they get used to your disappearing for months at a time and it taking them slightly longer than they'd like to work out where you are this time, by which point it's already too late.

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    $\begingroup$ or better yet, when your plane crashes returning from one of these trips and you go off the grid. Then you pay body doubles pretending to be you to appear in certain areas scamming people, and eventually the CIA gets bored of chasing these body double scam artists and you can live your normal life. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ Spending 6 months skiing in the Alps is not possible, there is enough snow only for 2 or 3 months if you are lucky, otherwise only for 1 to 2 months. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe, I don't ski, but I'm sure some of my friends seem to manage it ;) $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ I just realized Richard Branson is already set up to do this. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with the plane crash or any other faked death soloution is that if the authorities think you are dead they will start running the post-death processes. Your stuff will no longer be your stuff it will be your estates stuff. $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2016 at 17:42

Hide what you do, not where you are

Hiding what you do is a subset of hiding your person since if you hide your person, you also hide what you do. Given the high degree of surveillance on your person, it will be easier to hide a portion of your daily activities instead of all your activities. You will need to make regular public appearances to avoid suspicion (as much as possible).

Locating the Lab

Your lab will need to be located in a place where you go frequently already or can get to with relative ease without being observed by anyone else. Flying directly to your lab won't work because all flights are tracked and turning off that tracking is very suspicious. Also, there's the convenience factor of being able to get to the lab regularly so you can keep working. A project that requires you to travel 2 hours to get to won't get much attention.

Within your Lab

You'll need to adopt the following procedures to hide your activities

  • All electronic devices are checked at the door. No cell phones, no phones, no pagers, no digital assistants, no laptops, no USB drives
  • Three factor authentication to gain access to the lab.
  • Soundproof the entire lab.
  • Build a completely self-contained ventilation system with airlocks.
  • Build a Faraday cage around your lab. Hell, build two cages, just to be sure.
  • Line with substantial and multiple layers of concrete with air gaps in between. This way, if your working with some really nasty gamma ray sources, the gamma rays won't leak and give you away. You'll need to be very careful that you don't become radioactive too. These concrete shells will also make it nigh impossible for sound to get out of this lab.
  • Provide power to the lab using an AC-DC-AC converter. This will strip out any information that may be passed over power mains. There are significant heat waste to this approach but you're a billionaire and secrecy is super important.
  • Introduce very strong controls over the electronic firmware of the equipment you install. Be able to wipe all firmware and reinstall from trusted sources at will. Introduce regular rebuilds of system firmware and operating systems from trusted sources to ensure that if your machines are compromised, they can be rebuilt and made trustworthy again.
  • Hire a penetration testing team to continuously attack your lab. Only direct physical assault with explosives is forbidden. Social engineering, van Eck phreaking, hacking, everything else is on the table. This is an exceptional situation requiring exceptional countermeasures. Remember that you're fighting against one of the world most powerful nation-states. The CIA has an unlimited budget, best to be prepared.

Supplying your lab

This will depend a lot on the nature of your doomsday device.

Operational Security

Hire the absolute best opsec people you can find to plan and run your operational security. If you spend $200 million on an impenetrable lab but forget to take your phone out of your pocket before you walk in, you're really going to be kicking yourself when the CIA busts down your door.

  • $\begingroup$ "Cut the feeds." plus one. Good luck getting anything done from your intelligence-black-hole though, and having it not be obvious that that's where you are. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Dec 14, 2016 at 20:18

Serious Answer: Obviously, you need to have your best friend be the head of the CIA so he/she can cover up for you, foil all the go-getter young CIA agents trying to stop you. That's what every other super villain does in Hollywood.

Reverse Psychology Answer: Even better, reincarnate as a different person immediately! They will never see you coming! It works just great, try it!

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    $\begingroup$ @SJuan76 the best case part is that if you keep spewing random stuff - and get elected nevertheless - if you accidentally blow your cover once by telling everyone about your device, you can shrug off everything by saying it was just one of your bits of your weak ability to hold opinion that everyone knows about already and shouldn't worry about. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2016 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ Hey! who deleted my comment! It isn't as if it was based on any actual people! Seriously, who would trust such a guy to be the POTUS? $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Dec 12, 2016 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ Alternatively, become director of the CIA. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2016 at 19:59

Riffing on a couple of the other answers, fake your coma.

"In the news, eccentric billionaire Pavel's private jet crashed on takeoff during a business trip to Switzerland. He was airlifted to a private clinic where he was announced to be stable but comatose. Doctors are unsure at this time if he'll wake up."

Then at the private clinic you have a fake body set up in a super advanced life support pod. The body will mimic you perfectly, with real feeling skin, warm breath, pulse, etc. The pod will take care of "feeding", "waste elimination" and all of the other things that a nurse might have to do so that no one will get suspicious. When the intelligence operatives come to check it out they'll see that you're decoy is "alive", with a EKG and brain activity, but that it's all consistent with a coma.

Meanwhile you've changed your face and are just a mid level manager in your company that is tasked with keeping stuff working while the boss is in the hospital. This will give you the ability to move around and do stuff while appearing to boring to be someone that needs to be watched.

Or as VSZ suggested you could avoid a few problems by finding a similar looking hobo, putting them into a medically induced coma (which could be part of the actual cover story), do a bunch of plastic surgery and say that it was required because of how bad the crash was. So long as the hobo doesn't wake up or die you'll be fine. Dying wouldn't be the end of the world, it would just make things a little more difficult.

Why coma instead of death?

Dead people can't usually hold positions or own assets. If you die then your estate goes into probate, and it's possible that your accounts will be frozen. This makes things difficult. If you are in a coma then there will have to be a regular flow of money to pay doctor bills and stuff, and so it is a way to launder the money that will be needed to work your evil plan.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, but he needs to do this tomorrow, with current technology, I don't think a fake body is possible to make with current technology $\endgroup$
    – lasan
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ @lasan Something anamatroic? He could hire some Hollywood SFX artists to make something. I'd be willing to bet you could make something that would fool a casual inspection on short notice, especially if the support pod made a physical examination difficult. I'm Not talking about a Westworld level of technology, just something that looks pretty realistic. You get the doctors to tell anyone that asks that yes they examined the body and he's in good health, you can look, no you can't mess with him. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ It's just a body laying on a bed. It has to have respiration which is easy, body heat which is easy by circulating warm fluids under the fake skin, and skin that feels like you'd expect from a coma patient, which would be somewhat dry and maybe a little cool. The nurses would not have to be in on it. They would just tell the agents that the experimental support pod does most of the work. Every day they have to put in a nutrient canister and replace the waste canister, and the machine does everything else. They wish that they had them for all their patients. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ Or, if you are evil enough, just use a homeless person for this task... $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer, he doesn't need a body double tomorrow. He could be the coma patient, and then be swapped out later, once his butler finds a suitable replacement. After the first week or so, or when the next national tragedy happens, he'll become old news, and can be woken up, swapped out, and work can begin again. And when people see him, he can give them that hole Yeah, I get that all the time that I look like him. he's still in a coma, right? $\endgroup$
    – MDMoore313
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:00

Die !!!!!!!!(just fake it)

You can do this tomorrow , have a car crashed , and bring a sealed coffin home. Let people in your family cremate it.(or simply crash your private jet in to the ocean but Do this step fast.)

Now you are dead

Ok now you have all the time you need, grow your beard , wear sunglasses (also can do a plastic surgery if possible), then you can travel even . People will not notice, even if they do they won't believe it. Because you are dead.

Basically You can do whatever you want

Because nobody cares about the actions of a dead person.

Coming back to life

You can peacefully make the doomsday device and reveal yourself, and you don't have to worry about any agencies or government because you now have a cute little doomsday device in your hands .

One problem

Most of your money and assets will be not there when you come back , but do you really have to worry? Not at all , because now you are the most powerful man in the world, ask The world to be yours . The world will be yours , because no one wants a doomsday !

  • $\begingroup$ Nice one but as you are a billionaire, the crash will undergo a lot of investigation. And it won't be easy to fool CIA. $\endgroup$
    – dark32
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ @dark32 Yes ,if He is a billionaire he ll be manage to keep few extra millions for this work , and yea CIA will be hard to fool , I changed "bury" to "cremate", so there will be nothing to investigate, and after he reveals himself, he won't have to worry about money $\endgroup$
    – lasan
    Dec 12, 2016 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Good answer but I would add possible plastic surgery along with the other changes in appearance you mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – Mr. Durden
    Dec 12, 2016 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.Durden agreed :-) added to the answer, thanks $\endgroup$
    – lasan
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ Crashing your plane into the ocean would be better. Nobody needs to be in on it other than those who see you alive later. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2016 at 6:45

In Forensic science, Locard's exchange principle holds that the perpetrator of a crime will bring something into the crime scene and leave with something from it, and that both can be used as forensic evidence.

If you're a billionaire with evildoer plans, you have to remember that even if you go underground and stay obscured, you will still leave a tracable footprint. Communications you send out into the modern world becomes a footprint. Acquiring assets for your evil plans leaves a footprint and would set off warning bells. You can sneak into a country like North Korea, you still leave a footprint.

There was an evildoer who was trying to live in a house and go undetected. For years people thought he was really living in a cave. But he was brought down because his communications were trackable and he had to remain in communication to be relevant. This has brought down many similar evildoers.

The best course of action is to remain hidden in plain sight. Even better, use your wealth to change your world to help you achieve your goal. If you set the right goal, they may pin a medal on your chest for being a humanitarian.


Easy as 1-2-3.

Acquire a controlling interest in a company working on a doomsday device. Few things to keep in mind:

  • I don't recommend Boogle, for it is already on a radar. And don't even think of Halliburton; your funds are not sufficient.

  • Try not to expose yourself too obviously. I suppose you know how to set up fictitious owners.

  • Do I need to continue?

PS: Please contact me privately, and I will steer you in a right direction (standard fee applies). I love to steer billionaires (mwahaha).


You don't disappear.

Why you want to hide for a year? To think about your plans? And you are a billionaire?

Step right this way to your private jet that will take you from many places to different places. That's how you travel.

You also post this on instagram "this is me at Taj Mahal with my Bentley". While in Taj Mahal you meet with person of your interest. Then you go to your jet, fly for 5 hours (you actually work and think and plot) to Tokyo where you take photos in gadget section of the city and with kawaii girls and cute boys. Oh, you bought this cool new japan toy "Hakune Muku"? It's part of your device.

You post photos of you and almost naked women in a bathtub in Dubai but in reality the waiter is your engineer.

So, think and work in the solitude of your jet. Visit places you want to visit and many more (the CIA would need to sort out 1 place of interest form 100 you visited). Shake hands with people, was it really Dalai Lama or not, Maybe it was but he's assistant was also your associate.

And how and where you build your doomsday device? In your museum of doomsdays devices of course! From many pointy sticks through Little Boy and Fat Man to replica of Bond villains diamond satellites. And somewhere there is this once device that actually will work.

Good night. And have a plentiful year :)


Create a distraction.

The point I felt missing in this mastermind plot....

Hire /ask a secret friend to run some (terrorist) organization while you maintain a pretty face in politics/media while secretly working on D-day machine. Something similar happened in death note.

  • $\begingroup$ Risk: After some time, certainly less than a year, the connection between you and the friend will become public, maybe some old college pictures on fakebook. This may cause TLA agencies to also take a closer look at you, because you're a friend. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2016 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander risk is for normal people... Masterminds can find a way around it. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2016 at 13:48

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