Modern technology can track people through a variety of ways. Cars now are able to be tracked unless so old because of bluetooth technology, GPS, etc. Cell phones (and even land lines) are tappable. The US postal service takes a picture of literally every piece of mail that goes through its system, and unless one could devise a way to let your friends and family know what's going on through different mail systems (maybe sending a letter from 10 different mailboxes in different zip codes vs. just 1). E-Mail systems, social networks, etc are hackable, thus a determined tracker could see what emails were sent. Those tracking them could contact their loved ones (via public records, social media, etc.) People's movements are monitored through cameras, so even public transportation wouldn't be safe from experts determined to get your location, unless elaborate disguises are used. Even wilderness areas aren't truly safe, as many are crisscrossed with roads or public access points - not to mention you could run into other people as well. If the authorities are intent on finding you, they'll use helicopters to search the wilderness.

This question hinges on people being able to find your location in ANY way: traditional, nontraditional, technological, social, etc. If they find you, you're caught. This must be an instantaneous and permanent disappearance, not one staged over time. Also wealth should not be considered part of the equation. Budget:what an average middle income family gets in a single paycheck to do this once and for all.

This is an "average Joe" no special training, equipment, knowledge, etc involved, but the ability to look up and learn stuff as they need to know it (for instance YouTube at the local library). Think the TV series/ movie "the fugitive" but with more modern technology and everything the government can throw at the one they're trying to catch.

Also, as a note to the answer that was given for the military person: people will still know this person exists. No records will be wiped. His friends and family will assume s/he is still alive, unless given proof otherwise. No photographs will be altered. No documents of his/her former existence will be altered in any way shape or form. S/He simply wants to cease to exist from THAT moment forward, not retroactively erase his/ her existence.

  • $\begingroup$ Not really. This is more of a thing of how to disappear... totally - forever, never resurface, never be found, never be contacted by anyone who you don't want to be contacted by (or by anyone ever again!) $\endgroup$ – Jesse Cohoon Jan 27 '17 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ While the proposed duplicate says "for a year" the actual content of the question never asks about a resurfacing process - the answers there can still, for the most part, be adapted to work for longer. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 27 '17 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra basically I'm meaning disappear (basically) instantly - if you have some minor preparation, fine, but this isn't a thing of a hardcore survivalist. This is a case of you need to disappear and no one can ever know where you are or why you are missing, and you don't dare contact anyone period - because if you do you'll be caught, and you can't have done it ever before (no practice runs here) $\endgroup$ – Jesse Cohoon Jan 27 '17 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Note he does not have to fully disappear in order not to get caught. Getting asylum in a foreign country or getting to a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the country fleeing from is usually sufficient. $\endgroup$ – Anketam Jan 27 '17 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Anketam Think more along the lines of a cat and mouse game, than anything so political as asylum. The goal is not to be discovered in any way. $\endgroup$ – Jesse Cohoon Jan 27 '17 at 3:04

In order to disappear, you have to die. Permanently.

  • Forget your family; most felon recaptures happen because of contact with your family. As far as they know, you died MIA somewhere. Never return, never contact them. No mail, no phones, no email, no internet. Not even TOR. Contact with your family is such an obvious method to locate a felon that the police forces routinely keep an eye on all contacts with family members.
  • You have a new name now, completely different from your old one. Come up with a plausible but bland backstory to explain your lack of family. Do not make a big deal of this; details are hard to remember and you want to disappear; be boring.
  • Go to the library and learn a language. Any other language but English. And switch full time to it. Become a Russian ex-pat or a German tourist; not only do you hide all your speech patterns, but you move into a completely different community than the circles you used to travel in. Are the police really going to scrutinize the Russian community to find you? It's not the first thing they'll think to do. Also, you can lose yourself in a completely new culture, and your need to process language will make it easier to be careful when you talk.
  • Forget your electronic devices. Everything you had accounts for? Gone. No Facebook, no Steam, no credit cards, and no bank. Trash all your mobile devices; wiping those absolutely clean is likely out of your technical experience. Computers are OK, but completely destroy all hard drives. No backups, no kitten pictures, no family albums. If you MUST keep data, it better be encrypted and you'd better be willing to hold your ground during interrogation for passwords.
  • When you set up new accounts, don't EVER reuse passwords. Passwords are often times stored in the clear, and personalized passwords can act like a fingerprint. Not to mention, if the police get a hold of your old accounts (you should have deleted them!) you have to expect they have your old passwords now.
  • Get a burner phone or three. Prepaid mobile can work, if you can bypass the paperwork. You'll be depending on Wi-Fi and TOR for anything you do electric for the rest of your life.
  • Forget public internet, like libraries and the like. Screenshots are taken, access logged, and you can't ensure the terminal is secure.
  • You have lost access to all forms of currency outside of cash, and maybe Bitcoin. ATMs are out, they have cameras and electronic records. You get ONE shot to get money out of the bank; it's best if you do this before you change your appearance. If you can get somebody else to go for you, do it.
  • Bitcoin is NOT a safe haven. You either need to trust a private citizen to sell you bitcoins for cash, interact with a criminal network... because you can't buy bitcoins legitimately. That requires going into a bank (no banks!) and/or providing documentation, which you won't have for long.
  • Buying bitcoins before you're on the run is right out. EVERY TRANSACTION IS IN THE BLOCKCHAIN, and many Bitcoin endpoints are not completely secure. Once you're on the run, any bitcoins you own are right out. Don't reuse a wallet, and don't transfer the coins to another wallet; that's a paper trail, and the police just need to get your last wallet from your trash or your local enthusiast's club, and they now have data to track you. "It's too complex to track!" Ask the NSA.
  • Destroy all paperwork. Driver's License, Social Security, birth certificate, everything. You are dead. This makes it harder for you to slip up and tip your hand, and it'll encourage you to stay dead.
  • Buy a car, cash. 90s model, no fancy pants electronics on the inside. White car, Toyota or Ford. Generic. You do NOT want to stand out. No bumper stickers, no "I support the Police" badges. You don't want to have anything stick out.
  • DO NOT leave town via air, bus, ferry, taxi, uber... you will be driving your jalopy or hitchhiking. Note that hitchhiking can be dangerous if cops notice you doing it. The police will be monitoring all fast forms of transport, you want to slip out in the boring traffic. If you can, go at the beginning or end of rush hour; you want a high enough volume of traffic that the police aren't stopping and searching every car, but not so high that you can't get a move on.
  • Oh, and now you're following speed limits for life. Make sure to always use your turn signals.
  • You're now working day labor; jobs for cash that need no identification because it's all under the table. The work is going to be miserable, but you might luck into a better station.
  • DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL CRIME RINGS. A common mistake by felons is falling back on their crime experience to make a quick buck. You are on the run, do NOTHING to get the attention of cops. You are a sheeple now, blend in. You have too much to lose.
  • Change your career, if you can. You'll be tempted to use your old real world skills, but this ties you back to your dead past, and you might slip up.
  • Become an introvert, or an angry drunk. You don't tell funny stories from the past, and you don't make friends. Friends are chances to screw up and get caught. Slipping up with a funny, but identifying, story can ruin your day.
  • And when I say "angry drunk," I don't mean it. DO NOT TAKE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. Not only are drugs illegal (Stay. Away. From. The. Police.) but they lower your inhibitions. And that's a real fast way to let slip.
  • Change your hair, change your facial hair. Add a scar or two if you're macho. Change your preference in clothing; even that can be identifying.
  • Wear mirrored sunglasses and facial hair to confuse facial recognition software. Note this is not a long term solution. If you're a woman, learn makeup contouring and change up your face shape for the same reason.
  • Move as far away as you can afford to move. Searches require perimeters, and you want to be as far outside as you can.
  • Be very careful with your health; your first doctor's visit as a free person may be your last. Go to a minute clinic or urgent care, tell them you don't have insurance, and pay cash. Lie on every piece of paperwork. You'll have to decide if you are going to tell the truth about pre-existing conditions, as those tie to your past, and you are dead. Don't go to a back-alley "underworld" doctor, you'll just make it all worse. Avoid the ER unless you must, and then use your Russian skills to be a confused, sick foreigner, but don't cause a scene... STAY AWAY FROM THE POLICE.
  • Speaking of which: identifying marks? Lose 'em. Tattoos should be modified or obliterated; if you're macho, scars should be... altered. You don't want to be positively IDed after all that hard work because you have a particular tatoo with a particular spelling of an odd name fingering you.

Source? I watch way too many real crime procedural shows. What it always comes down to, where felons always get caught, is in slipping up and letting their old identity show, even just a little bit. The old guy? He's dead, gone, buried. You gotta change everything, and stick to it forever. Even friends can become enemies; I remember reading one story where the felon turned his life around so much his boss wanted to promote him and dude's past accidentally leaked a little bit. The more notorious a felon you are, the harder the cops are going to look, and the more careful you need to be.

Almost every felon on the run who gets caught gets caught because they couldn't stay away from their past. They contact family, get back into crime groups, slip up and make a phone call... something.

Finally, being a felon on the run is HARD, HARD WORK. You get no support, you can no longer rely on the police, every public interaction is dangerous, there are cameras everywhere, and we leak mountains of data to the Internet we might not even be aware we've leaked. You can't have fun, you can't go to the bar, you can't go to the movies. Most importantly, you can never relax. One slip up, and you're toast.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd like to add, mirrored (or other sunglasses) and a beard to help offset facial recognition software, and while people don't think about this, when setting up a new account, even though you think it's a "secret", don't ever use a password from your old life ...a group of passwords for several accounts is as distinctive as a fingerprint. $\endgroup$ – Joe Jan 27 '17 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @joe I've added your ideas to the Master List Of Getting Away WIth It. $\endgroup$ – Zoey Boles Jan 27 '17 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO, learning Russian in a library and try to join immigrant community is a no-go. The community would recognize that you are an impostor right away. What could be done, though, is convincingly playing the role of an immigrant without actually mixing with them. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jan 28 '17 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander, that's kinda what I really meant. The idea is to be able to communicate and act within the community, and get lost in a different culture. You're trying to completely scramble the cops expectations. $\endgroup$ – Zoey Boles Jan 28 '17 at 4:06

Supposedly there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the US. Millions in other western countries. Most of them manage to hide from the authorities, but of course they are individually not a high priority.

  • Abandon all contact with family and friends.
  • Get a new haircut, grow or cut a beard. Change his body weight enough to re-shape the face slightly.
  • Think of a new name and become an unskilled worker in another state.

Faking his death would be a two-edged sword. There might be an investigation which becomes an ongoing mystery. Much better to become one deadbeat dad among many.


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