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Ask Slashdot: What Would Your 'I've Got To Disappear' Plan Look Like? 789

New submitter diacritica writes "This Ask Slashdot is inspired by manhunts à-la-Bourne movies, but taking a more realistic approach to the world we live in. You are native to and live in a big city (> 1M pop) in a G8 country of your choosing. At T = 0h, you accidentally witness a strange event. At T = 1h, you realize you're being followed and you get the feeling that the police/government might be involved. Contextual data: you are able to speak one language apart from good English. You are 25 to 45 years old. You are computer savvy. You are engaged/married, you have family living in the same city. 99% of your money is in a bank account. You prefer to go 'rationally' paranoid. What would you do in order to feel safe after those first 24 hours? Remember, you didn't commit a crime, but there are plenty of real-world resources invested in catching you."
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Ask Slashdot: What Would Your 'I've Got To Disappear' Plan Look Like?

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  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:08PM (#41087407) Journal

    I wouldn't go out and get laid.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:24PM (#41087667)

      Luckily enough, this will not cause any change in your plans...

      TBH, one other poster has a good idea. If you disappear for a couple of months you're likely to drop away and be lost until they look again for you for some reason. Go camping for a while.

      Whilst you're "offline", work out what evidence you have and figure out a dissemination policy. If you have none, work out who is "after you" and what that means to them, attack being a good defence. Failing that, ignore the problem.

      Back to civilisation, disseminate as widely as possible all the data you have before getting back to your life. Investigate and procure information on those you need protection from and if you thereafter think you're being brought in, don't bother playing by the rules. If they're thinking "the rules don't apply to me" then show them what it means when the rules of civilised conduct REALLY don't apply.

      And if you have to preemt an attack, don't worry about getting big people, nor even the involved.

      If Hollywood action movies have taught me anything, it's that the Big Bad ALWAYS thinks their family is out of harms way. If you're going to be boned, show them how wrong they are. Civilised actions preclude it, but like I said, they think those rules don't apply to them.

      Make it so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1. Get the hell off the internet
      2. Lose the mobile phone, iPad, and anything else with wireless capability
      3. Become invisible, wear solid black (or white) clothing, no logos, brands or anything else immediately identifiable.
      4. (If time permits) Wear sunglasses or some other type of glasses that distort how people see you, eg if the popular trend is cokebottle lenses, get those.
      5. (If time permits) Get a wig of a different hair color and lenght. This is much harder for men, but you can just get something tha

      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @09:20PM (#41089489)
        "Become invisible, wear solid black (or white) clothing, no logos, brands or anything else immediately identifiable."

        IOW, try to stand out in the crowd?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by akboss ( 823334 )
        You left out that Alaska is a very large ans easy place to "disappear" in. Having lived there for 37 years I kind of know where to go to blend in. I also know enough people that have a dislike for the "government" as to help in any way they can. Come to think of it, it is hunting season and I could easy load up on moose and caribou and not have to surface for quite a while.
      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        All of this rests on a ridiculous premise: the bad guys have inexplicably let themselves be seen. None of us are Michael Westen and the bad guys don't act like they do on Burn Notice.
    • by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @08:24PM (#41089027) Homepage Journal

      That seems to be about Assange. You have a point there. If he actually did something wrong, he really messed up. I don't want to let him off the hook for sexual misbehavior just for Wikileaks' sake. If he did nothing wrong, that still provides a pretext for the authorities to go after him.

    • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @05:31AM (#41092137)

      Rule #2: Don't post your escape plan on /.

  • by PeanutButterBreath ( 1224570 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:08PM (#41087413)

    Nice try.

  • by chichilalescu ( 1647065 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:08PM (#41087419) Homepage Journal

    see title

  • Here. (Score:5, Funny)

    by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:08PM (#41087421)

    1) Hide in the Ecuadorean embassy.
    2) Hire a lawyer.

  • The first rule... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:09PM (#41087433)

    The first rule of secret escape plans is that you keep them secret.

  • WWAD (Score:4, Funny)

    by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:10PM (#41087445)

    What Would Assange Do?

  • Simple enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by log0n ( 18224 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:10PM (#41087453)

    Withdraw enough cash to feed yourself for a week, then leave. Go camping. Get out into nature. If technology is your concern, get away from the technology.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Off the grid is a good idea. The camping thing can work if you have conspirators. For instance Eric Rudolph was able to evade authorities for 5 years, presuably because his murders were supported by the christian group Army of God and others who publicly supported his actions. It was a fluke he was arrested, so probably could have stayed under cover for a longer time.

      When I was young and ridiculous, I had a jump bag, a passport and credit card to get out of the country and up into a remote area if anyth

    • Which of my identities are you suggesting should go camping?

      Can the othes carry on as usual?

      Really... disinformation is the name of the game. I'd rather stay where I am and let the guys following me go camping.

      (of course, this could be disinformation itself....)

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Withdraw enough cash to feed yourself for a week, then leave. Go camping. Get out into nature. If technology is your concern, get away from the technology.

      If you've an avid sailor, and I've been sailing since I was a teen, a cruising sailboat is way better. Helps if you're near a coast or at least a great lake. I believe you're pretty much screwed as a sailor if you're in Utah, then again you don't have to be fleeing the MIB to be screwed if you're stuck in Utah.

  • Hide? Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blade ( 1720 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:11PM (#41087465) Homepage

    I'd get a good lawyer, let the press know what I'd seen and then go to the police and give them a statement.

    • Re:Hide? Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:42PM (#41087893) Homepage Journal

      Your lawyer would then suffer a nasty accident, your press contact would be murdered, and the police would discover evidence implicating you in the crime. Also, psychiatric records demonstrating your delusional personality would turn up. Jeez, don't you get cable?

  • Regret... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:12PM (#41087471)

    ...that I posted my plan to /.

  • by neminem ( 561346 ) <neminem AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:12PM (#41087473) Homepage

    Then, after I had succeeded in hiring a good lawyer, and maybe a bodyguard, depending on who I thought was after me... start posting whatever it was I saw to every communal blog and forum I could think of, then start spamming newspapers with it, too. If I've done nothing wrong, why hide?

    • Then, after I had succeeded in hiring a good lawyer, and maybe a bodyguard, depending on who I thought was after me... start posting whatever it was I saw to every communal blog and forum I could think of, then start spamming newspapers with it, too.

      This is the plot hole in every one of these "hunted by the corrupt government" stories.

      If you aren't the "only one that knows", you are much safer. If millions of people know or suspect, rational bad guys won't compound the original crime by killing you...they would instead spend all their time coming up with ways to show that although what you saw really happened, it wasn't them that did it. You still might get killed just for spite, but at least there's a chance that somebody would answer for the crimes

    • by tftp ( 111690 )

      Just don't be surprised when social accounts are created under your name and identity and then are quickly used to threaten harm to various people (which is a crime.) Good luck proving that it was not you who posted a certain message. There was a news story a week ago about an ex-Marine taken and placed into a psychiatric hospital for something he (supposedly) wrote on Facebook.

      If the government is after you (for whatever reason) the only sane and effective thing you can do is to leave the country as soo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:13PM (#41087481)

    Please write my book for me.

  • Disappear? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:13PM (#41087485)

    Any G-8 country, you say? I pick Russia.

    First step: Start preaching revolution.

    Second step: Unneeded. I've already disappeared.

  • by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:14PM (#41087503)

    Record yourself recounting everything you saw, then post the video to as many sites as you can. The more you can say about the event the better, don't make it short and look like you know more then you're saying. Start babbling if you can manage it.

    That way, there is not much of a point silencing you, since you've already done the worst you could.

  • by jaskelling ( 1927116 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:15PM (#41087513)
    Nobody will ever hear from me again or know who I am that way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:15PM (#41087517)

    Ya blew it.
    That's really all there is too it. You need cash to disappear. "They" would've already frozen or started watching your assets.
    You're already dead.

  • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:15PM (#41087529)

    I'm not interested in running for the rest of my life, so my goal would be to solve the problem permanently. If the problem is that I witnessed something, then I'd get my testimony and any relevant information in my possession as widely distributed as I could. Once the information is beyond containing, stopping me will no longer solve my opponent's problem. They'll have bigger problems to worry about than me. You can distribute your materials from anywhere these days - record a video on your phone, upload it to as many websites as possible, stick it on Wikileaks, email the press...

    • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:29PM (#41087725)

      I'd get my testimony and any relevant information in my possession as widely distributed as I could. Once the information is beyond containing, stopping me will no longer solve my opponent's problem. They'll have bigger problems to worry about than me.

      How's that working out for Julian Assange? Once you spread the information, their priority changes from containment to revenge.

      • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

        How's that working out for Julian Assange? Once you spread the information, their priority changes from containment to revenge. /i>

        What makes you think the way Assange is being treated is motivated by revenge? Even if you believe there is a conspiracy against him, the most likely explanation would be to stop him from continuing his work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:19PM (#41087569)

    Hour 1.5, go to local soup kitchen
    Hour 2, trade half of your 1% of your money not in a bank account for a bum's SIN and dirty ratty clothes.
    Hour 3, attempt to submit forms for a birth certificate for said bum
    Hour 4, use remainder of 1% to buy copious USB devices
    Hour 5, spend an hour creating USB devices that "phone home" when plugged in (you want at least 20-100 USB's here)
    Hour 6, pretend to lose these near where the government agents might be (also why you need many)
    Hour 7, hopefully get a hit - start enumeration and finger printing on FBI (or what ever agency is after you)
    Hour 8, check into a motel under a fake name
    Hour 9, pull a Kevin Mitnick and setup a pager/cellphone to notify you when they are going to setup the Sting
    Hour 9.5, put on dirty ratty bum's clothes and GTFO coz they've set up the sting and are on their way to the motel, if you're lucky no one will see you
    Hour 10, sit in busy area of city pan handling in the bums clothes
    Hour 24, no one will notice you for 14 hours or more because no one cares about homeless people :( ...
    6-8 weeks later: obtain your fresh new birth certificate
    day after: apply for a new passport, say you're traveling soon and get it rushed, use the money you pan handled to pay for it
    week later: have your new passport, leave the country under your new identity


    • Hour 2, trade half of your 1% of your money not in a bank account for a bum's SIN and dirty ratty clothes.

      While most of what you say is good, I'm going to suggest NOT taking the dirty ratty clothes. They are really bad. Get some clothes at Goodwill, that's where homeless people get them.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:23PM (#41087645) Homepage Journal

    I do not speak another language besides English, though I can get by in French.

    - ATM, get cash.

    - Drive to airport, ditch car in cell lot.

    - Bus into town, taxi to real bus station, bus anywhere.

    - Disposable phone. Use my wife's Google Voice account to leave her a message. Thrown in the trash at any bus stop.

    - Another bus ticket. Different direction.

    - No McDonalds. Taco Bell, or worse, for food. I'm known for my fast food habits, let's not make it too easy.

    - I'm inclined to cross the border at a place I know they are perpetually lax in one direction. I won;t be coming back for a while.

    - Find work in a kitchen. Cliché, but hey. Or landscaping. You can do this easier than you think, and I can pretty much make up Social Security numbers, easy when you know the formula. I will, of course appear to be very old. And my favored employer won't care. They still exist in North America

    Maybe this keeps me alive for a month. I obviously will not be very happy.

    - Slither into the library/etc. and create a Slashdot indentity.

  • Step 1 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zadaz ( 950521 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:27PM (#41087703)

    I doubt it's hard, technically to truly disappear. The hard part is that you have to be willing to leave absolutely everything behind.

    Step 1: Phone off, battery out. If battery can't come out it gets destroyed.

    Step 2: Wipe and leave behind anything that connects to the Internet.

    Step 3: Turn everything into cash immediately.

    You won't be able to hide that you're doing a runner, but you can make it harder to get your trail after you do run.

    Get a hair cut, color hair (just 2 shades different, not drastic), add/remove facial hair, buy some cheap glasses frames with 0 correction glass in them. Buy entirely different wardrobe, half from Wal-mart, half from thrift stores.

    A trip to Kinko's to print a temp set of fraudulent license plates for my car. Or better yet, swap plates with someone with the same model and color as mine. Or best give a buddy who looks like you $500 to drive the car to city X and fly back. You take the train/bus to city Y, in a different time zone from X and forget about the car.

    After that it would depend on how much cash I had and how well connected the people after me wanted me. A good fake ID would be in the loop somewhere, but I honestly don't know anywhere to do that in person any more. Some time at cafés or public libraries with computers (and some attentive browser washing) would probably turn up something. Drive to a city chosen completely at random that I don't have any previous contact with. (No visits, family, friends, etc.) Population of at least 50K.

    I'm not sure if I'd leave the country or not. (In this case I'm in the US.) It would require a better fake ID and borders are choke points of surveillance. Also fingerprints.

    If I felt the need to send "I'm okay" information to my friends or family I'd do it through the post at least a 3 hour drive from where I've set up camp. No return address.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:32PM (#41087757) Homepage Journal

    Step 1: Post the video on YouTube. After that, too many people have seen it, and other than revenge, there's no good reason to come after me.

    If that isn't an option, step one would be to publicly post my escape plan, then do something completely different.

    The best overall solution is probably to try to get lost in a crowd:

    1. Head for a busy shopping mall, exit through a nonstandard door, setting off the fire alarm as you do so.
    2. In the resulting confusion, slip into a subway station and grab the first train.
    3. Go exactly one station, leave your cell phone on the train (concealed), and then without exiting the station, change trains to go back in the opposite direction. Stay in the middle of a group of people on the train while you're passing the original station to avoid being seen by any spooks on the platform.
    4. Go several stations, get off, and hail a cab.
    5. Take the cab to an ATM (they're more than willing to stop and wait) and get as much cash as you can in a single day.
    6. Take the cab to a tourist location that is at least an hour's drive away, but is within a twenty minute walking distance from the nearest Amtrak station. Pay for the cab fare in cash.
    7. Walk to the Amtrak station and buy a train ticket with cash.
    8. Travel to your nearest border or near-border train stop (San Diego, Seattle, Niagara Falls, San Antonio, etc.), paying only in cash.
    9. Hail a cab for the border. Cross.
    10. Hail a cab and travel to the nearest airport in another country.
    11. Fly somewhere else.

    If you're lucky, by the time they follow the trail of security camera breadcrumbs to your final subway stop, contact all the cab companies to find out if they picked up anybody near there, figure out where they took you, and check all the security cameras for all the transit hubs near there, you'll be across the border. If you're really feeling insane, buy an Amtrak ticket to a different destination on a different route (using a credit card with your real name) just before you head a different direction. As long as the platform is outdoors, it is unlikely that they'll be able to determine whether you did or did not get on that particular train, which might provide an additional delay.

    Oh, yes, and as you're getting out of the cab, give a homeless person one of your credit cards. Make them chase a ghost.

  • by Megahard ( 1053072 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:35PM (#41087805)
    See The Partner [].
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:36PM (#41087815)
    If you are going to disappear for a short period, get cash, live in a cash-only motel and contact nobody. A one-time cash withdrawl near home will not tip anyone off as to your location.

    If you wanted off the grid completely, you are screwed. You have to have previous long-term plans in place to disappear (and 99% of your cash in the bank is not indicative of such planning). For medium term, take a trip to a country that speaks your second language, but not much English and go some place small, where another person from your country would stand out. Don't hide, go out, make friends. Let them know you think others are after you, they'll warn you if the time comes.

    If the question is "how do I live indefinately looking over my shoulder",
    Step 1. Drop all routine. Change your route to work daily. Vary your time of any activity by 10 minutes or more every day. Get a gun permit (gun optional, the permit will be found by those after you and cause them extra caution, but if you are comfortable, get the gun to go with it). If you get a gun, get 10. Check them daily. Get them all the same caliber. Keep 100 rounds on you at all times, and magazines stashed around with and separate from the guns.
    Buy lots of the WiFi webcams and stream them to a local computer, as well as a cloud storage you have someone else buy on your behalf. Make sure to do both. Everyone stops when they find what they are looking for, except in the movies. If they find the local storage, they won't look for the cloud. If they track the cloud first, they won't look for the local. If you are overly worried about it, buy an old laptop and set it up, then tear down some sheetrock and put the laptop inside your wall, patch it up good, and they won't find it. Ever. Bodies were being found 50 years after mob murders in building sites so concealed. Get a UPS for the local computer and Internet so if your power is cut, you get recording.
    Document what you saw, send it to your lawyer. And your family. Figure out why they are after you, and either work with them or against them until they have no more worries about what you know/saw.
  • Ahem (Score:4, Funny)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:43PM (#41087897) Journal

    You know who's really asking this question, don't you? The cops are looking for somebody, and the trail went cold. So now, they're crowd sourcing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego"

  • by bidule ( 173941 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @06:46PM (#41087931) Homepage

    Once in my magical girl outfit, I'd fight those evil men. I'd prolly scare them to death too.

    That may not be the kind of fantasy you were looking for, though.

  • by Penurious Penguin ( 2687307 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:01PM (#41088111) Journal
    FBI Weenie #001: "You know, we are a bunch of wankers after all." Sips Natural Ice from can.
    FBI Weenie #002: "True. And we do suffer a lack of creativity." Sips Natural Ice from can.
    FBI Wennie #001: "I'm bored out of my mind. It's been ten years since we had any real terrorists to deal with." Sips Natural Ice from can.
    FBI Weenie #003: "Hey! Lets go mine slashdot and get some ideas. There's always a good one somewhere in the threads." Sips Natural Ice from can.
    FBI Head Weenie: "Alright, I'll contact Stratfor and get them to whip up an Ask Slashdot title." Sips Budweiser from can
    Moments later: Thousands of Slashdot readers see in their rss feeds: Ask Slashdot: What Would Your 'I've Got To Disappear' Plan Look Like?
  • gordian not (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @07:07PM (#41088203) Journal

    Ask Slashdot: What Would Your 'I've Got To Disappear' Plan Look Like?

    A handful of barbiturates and a quart of vodka.

  • Nice try (Score:4, Funny)

    by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @08:04PM (#41088811)

    Nice try buddy, but we aren't going to help you find John Connor!

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @09:48PM (#41089713) Journal
    Most of you failed to read the FP, and even if you did, seem to have skipped the obvious first step.

    * You have someone following you. You haven't yet manage to elude your potential captors.
    * You don't know that your pursuers have government ties, just suspect it.
    * You don't know that "they" actually know your identity yet - Even the MiBs don't really know everything instantly.
    * You have almost no money on you (or if 1% counts as "enough", you have enough money to get a damned good lawyer).

    You can test two of these and potentially fix one with one simple move - Go into the nearest branch of your local bank and take out a modest, odd-sized sum of cash well under $10k... Perhaps $3450 (no need to go crazy with precision, virtually all legit debts in the four-digit range will round to the dollar, and often enough to the 50s - And keep in mind that 35 bills will cause a very sizable bulge in your pocket). If the bank gives it to you, then "they" either don't know your identity, or don't belong to the government (note that the latter doesn't make you any safer - Plenty of NGOs pose as much, if not more, of a threat to you than the government-proper). If the bank tries to make you stick around for more than two minutes, time to vanish into the woods, penniless or not (and if "they" can get to the bank and nab you in under two minutes, sorry dude, you had no shot from the moment you saw A Strange Event, so might as well get it over with).

    So, assuming you have a decent wad of cash (if you have either died at this point or know you can look forward to a life of hermitage in a mud hut in the Great North Woods, not much more advice matters, so turn to page 99, "the end")... Task #0a: Leave a message with your lawyer describing your situation and asking him to look into it, and say that you'll contact him in a week for an update. Task #0b: Leave a goodbye message (you can do that directly with most cell phones, without actually ringing the line) for anyone you care about - This will both protect them and make you less likely to do something stupid like try to go home three months from now. Take this chance to wipe your phone (not that they can't recover it, but might as well make it a bit of a challenge)

    Task #1, lose your tail. Easier said than done, but we've all seen plenty of trick in movies you could try. Personally, I'd favor large crowds with lots of cover, ie, a shopping mall (outdoor market, all the better, but we don't have a whole lot of those in the US). Wander around for a while, always heading for the largest crowd you can see, and try to leave by an unusual route. At some point early in this step, "accidentally" leave your phone in a conspicuous place, preferably with lots of teens around. Someone will kindly pocket it for you and provide a new non-you moving target.

    So you've lost your tail. Task #2, get the hell out of Dodge. "They" will watch most forms of public transit, so a series of hailed cabs or hitchhiking will give you the best chances. If you can get to a bus depot in an outlying suburb, you have a chance. Go to a different state.

    On your first stop, buy an activate a pair of Tracphones. Mail one to your lawyer, and one to your wife (or mother). Now Pretend you still have a tail and repeat steps 1 & 2. Do it again. Bonus points for finding alternate means of transportation than buses and taxis (commuter trains don't ID you, long-haul ones sometimes do, airports always do).

    So... Now you consider yourself more-or-less safe to stop and think for a while. Get a good night's rest, get a complete makeover (hair/beard style and modest color change), get some new clothes. Get another Tracphone, activate it, but don't call anyone yet.

    Have your next bus ticket ready, and take a taxi/T to the opposite side of the city. Call your lawyer's shiny new Tracphone and see if he has anything useful to tell you. Don't automatically believe

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.