Comments: 979 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

pere_ubu226 karma

I have a back up plan to disappear, its only a hypothetical game I play with myself, but I'd love to know what flaws there are in it. I'd love to know how you'd find me.

  1. I would encrypt everything on my PC, making access pretty much impossible. I have a 20 character passcode of letters and numbers committed to memory to use.

  2. I'd delete every online account I've got, anything with personal details, although I don't expect anything to be removed from their servers, I assume that no detective is going to go to that much trouble to find me.

  3. I'd take cash out, all of the cash and grab a taxi out of the city, leaving everything behind. I wouldn't take anything other than the most non-descript clothes, plain t-shirts and hoodies. Blue jeans and generic trainers.

  4. I have no idea how to create a new identity, I think I'd go far and arrive at a hospital. With no ID and refusing to talk, I assume I'd be put into protective care in an asylum or something like that. I'd let the authorities work to give me an identity, I'd wait patiently. I think the biggest issue is the risk of media involvement.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

OrangeAndBlack190 karma

1) Two part response that depends on your response: Are you keeping the computer with you or are you destroying it as well?

I am not the biggest computer expert but I do know that everything you've ever done on your computer stays on there until legitimately destroyed.

You could carry it with you, but that's at risk of the wrong person getting their hands on it and knowing what to do to dig the info about your past life out.

If you really want to erase this former identity, take a magnate to that bitch and dispose of it the way Dexter does. (in a large body of water)

2) Not too much I can say on this, just make sure you delete everything you are capable of.

Keep in mind, if you are tagged in pictures on Facebook, that means those pictures are on OTHER people's accounts. So that means you have some loose ends. You might not be tagged and linked anymore, but there's a very good chance that photo from high school prom will still have your name attached to it.

This could be problematic down the line, for here is a photo of you that identifies you as your prior identity, while you are trying to go around and be a new person.

3) Make sure you take the cash out slowly over time. If you were to just go to the bank and take EVERYTHING out, boom red flags everywhere, plus there will be security footage from the bank/atm of you, giving people a very recent view at what you look like before you 'vanish'.

If you take it out slowly over time, it is less noticeable than everything at once.

Nondescript clothes is smart. But bring things that are different looking enough: Pair of dark blue jeans, light pair of jeans, khaki pants, shorts. Different styles of t-shirts and hoodies, jackets. Accumulate different clothes of varying styles over time so that you are even less recognizable. Be the guy that's wearing those shorts with alligators on them and a pink polo when everyone is looking for that 'guy in jeans and a black hoodie'.

4) Take a feather out of the cap of this guy: Sywald Skeid

He's a guy that walked into a Toronto area hospital with amnesia and having no idea who he is. No identity at all.

After 8 years he finally admitted that he knew who he was and was bluffing:

I'd rather be a fake nobody than the real me. At first I tried not to be anyone at all. Then I tried to become someone - and then someone better."

Media makes it much harder because it draws the publics interest to this 'weird guy with no identity.' For some reason the public eats this up, it'll get air time for a week or so, but that's just enough time for people to start digging. If you can beat the media storm and keep a relatively low profile then you might be in the clear.

poultrygeisttt143 karma

Yeah! Magnets bitch!

OrangeAndBlack84 karma

Just watched that episode yesterday

SWE42019 karma

me too, hmmmmmmmm

OrangeAndBlack42 karma

Are you me?

whyso32 karma

  1. Nope, if you overwrite the disk a bunch of times it is impossible to get the data off. Putting a HDD in water, as you suggest, on the other hand will not affect the data.

  2. Also mention how you would use Accurint and such =p. Anyhow, you are right he is screwed as far as info of him being available. By having a facebook he has permanently made a lot of information available, and most likely has in other ways as well.

  3. Good advice, though it most likely would not help him much.

  4. Yup, he needs to turn to documents fraud most likely to score a new identity.

OrangeAndBlack5 karma

So even magnets wouldn't remove the data? Fire?

OrangeAndBlack97 karma

I'm on my phone now, I'll respond when I'm on a computer and it's less frustrating. I love playing this game (I've done it too haha)

Rastachronic157 karma

I have two questions.

First, what does the majority of your daily work comprise of?

Second, have you been in a situation in which you refused to continue pursuit because of morality?

OrangeAndBlack671 karma

Great questions:

1) Honestly just sitting in my car staking out at the claimant's home waiting for them to go out. Typically during this time I will do some research on them or other cases that I have.

2) Yes! I once had a case where the client wanted video footage of the claimant walking around the block. Their claim was that they could not go to work because they were bedridden, so the client wanted to get footage of the claimant out and about.

So I get on my sit and after some research I find out the claimant is quite old. I also find out that he is dying of terminal cancer and is bedridden due to this. I see him walking around the block in a robe with a walker, arm interlocked with a little old lady I can only assume is his wife.

Needless to say, I didn't 'see' anything that day.

neglectron90 karma

1) Honestly just sitting in my car staking out at the claimant's home waiting for them to go out.

Where do you park/position your car to avoid raising the suspicions of the claimant and their neighbors? Have people ever called the cops on you while you're doing this or approached you to ask why you're there?

OrangeAndBlack93 karma

Copied from a previous answer:

Do your best to park where you can get a clear view of your claimant, but not in a place where it puts you in direct connection with your claimant i.e. park up the street from them, or on an opposite corner, parking lot across the street, etc etc

un-birthday115 karma

If you were so inclined, what information could you legally obtain about a person without their permission?

OrangeAndBlack210 karma

Address, family's address, phone numbers, cell phone numbers, places of work and here's the big ticker: Social Security Numbers.

Yes, for a small fee of 3.99 a month (not linking because fuck that site) you can view everyone and anyone's SSN.

Honestly, pretty much everything is available.

JinsooJinsoo98 karma

What's the simplest, most useful tip you can give for the average American?

OrangeAndBlack180 karma

Be mindful of what you post on the internet, specifcally facebook. The first place I always look to find info on someone is their facebook.

Sounds kind of obvious, but it is amazing what people post on the internet: Where they're going, what they're doing there, who they're going with, things that they did that are either A) purposfully illegal (posting pictures of blunts on facebook is a great example) or B) Accidentally illegal "wooh! atm accidentally gave me 120 bucks instead of 60! what should I do with my extra 60 bucks?!?)

Not saying you have to keep everything secret, but there's a line.

UhOhPoopedIt62 karma

Is it a big red flag if someone doesn't have a facebook page?

OrangeAndBlack100 karma

If there is no evidence of them ever having one, no.

But if it appears that they used to have one or we know they used to have one, then yes, it makes it seem that they are trying to hide something.

soylentgringo46 karma

I think I already know the answer to this, but has Facebook made your job much easier in some respects?

OrangeAndBlack97 karma

A thousand times easier.

david-me83 karma

Which pieces of mail are actually worth shreading?

OrangeAndBlack108 karma

Anything with SSN or banking info on it.

I never went thru mail but some do.

mactroneng60 karma

I've gotten into the habit of shredding the vast majority of my mail (no real reason other than it's fun to wreck things I guess)... is that extra suspicious?

OrangeAndBlack75 karma

It's only suspicious if there's reason for people to believe you're hiding something. if i noticed someone i was on shredded everything, yes if be suspicious, but wouldn't be able to do anything about it because the documents are shredded ;)

thombudsman73 karma

What's the secret to being a good private investigator?

OrangeAndBlack120 karma

Blending in.

I have a sit in the city? I'm wearing a white T and some Jean shorts.

Out in a real nice part of town? Maybe I'll throw on a pair of khakis to go with my nice Polo.

Also not sticking out when you park. Do your best to park where you can get a clear view of your claimant, but not in a place where it puts you in direct connection with your claimant i.e. park up the street from them, or on an opposite corner, parking lot across the street, etc etc

[deleted]60 karma


OrangeAndBlack144 karma

Now I'm burnt and out of a job, thanks

skarface643 karma

What are some tips to spot people spying like this? It seems kind of obvious in movies- who doesn't notice a car with a guy in it out front for hours? How often are people randomly sitting in cars on streets?

OrangeAndBlack107 karma

Most people will not notice anything that they do not expect to see.

Here's a question for you: Do you ever question a car parked in front of your neighbor's home or do you just assume your neighbor has guest over? If a car is parked in front of your home that you don't recognize, are you immediately going to assume that its a PI or just ignore it as some asshole that parked infront of your house instead of the driveway?

To spot PIs, you have to look for consistency. interesting, the neighbor's guest is leaving only seconds after I am, and we seem to be both heading towards the main road Just try to find odd coincidences or weird chanec happenings.

DuckDragon57 karma

So, what happens if you're hired by someone but the cops get involved? In other words, have you ever had opposition from the law while you were on the job?

OrangeAndBlack160 karma

Yes, if the cops get involved you are typically burnt. This means that you would no longer be able to follow that claimant anymore.

There are times though when the cops get involved but it is nothing serious, for example "sir, why are you parked here" "I'm a PI and I'm staking out so and so for insurance fraud at the home over there" "Oh, okay, well just find a new spot to park, lady at this house you're parked in front of is pissed"

mrbrinks33 karma

Are cops generally amicable to you, or do they give you/other PIs a hard time?

OrangeAndBlack96 karma

They're mostly understanding and cool. Many of them are former PI's, many PI's are former cops.

Sometimes they'll give us crap though, "you should have told us you were going to post up here"

Meh, no I shouldn't, go home.

clipmann56 karma

What is the percentage of husbands hire you to know if their wifes are cheating on them?

OrangeAndBlack103 karma

Actually none, that is a specific field of Private Investigation all in its own, believe it or not haha. I have dealt mostly with insurance fraud.

flowerheart55 karma

I won an order from someone and in the end, they owe me money. In order to get paid I need to find out her banking and address information but since the court date she has moved and I don't know where she is. Would a pi be able to find this out for me and would it be worth it? She owes $1200 and am worried it will cost that much to get the info.

OrangeAndBlack76 karma

How come you need to find out that info in order to get paid? Is the payment under the table? If she legalyl owes you that money, you shouldn't have to do anything on your own to get it.

[deleted]48 karma

What was your most intense moment as an investigator?

OrangeAndBlack125 karma

I've had a few, but nothing where I personally felt my life was at risk.

One time a lady caught me staking out her house and mistook me for a Pedo (her kids were outside playing). She took it upon herself to chase me down in her car and sparked our own little version of a cop car chase where I was the one fleeing. That was probablly the most dramatic moment I had.

Other close calls were when people would notice that my car didn't seem right on their street and would check it out (I have very tinted windows so you can't see inside). That would just be very nerve wrecking and intense because you have no idea what a group of people will do to someone who they think is infringing on their lives.

TheOtherCumKing45 karma

So while I understand why you can't answer most of those questions, the one about "What happens if two PIs are hired to follow each other", seems odd.

Am I right to assume it has less to do with privacy, like the others, and more to do with the fact that you get asked this all the time? Or is there an actual legal reason behind it?

OrangeAndBlack75 karma

Nah it's just kind of annoying, it's like one of those jokes that everyone says to be funny but ends up just being dry.

Probably the same for someone named Wilson always hearing WILSONNNNN jokes

TheOtherCumKing45 karma

But hypothetically speaking, if someone did hire a private investigator to follow you, do you think you would be able to know?

Or reverse that, do you think it would be harder to investigate someone who is in the same business or do you think you can get away using the same strategy you would use with any other client?

OrangeAndBlack120 karma

Lol fine I'll play:

If we were hired to follow eachother at the same exact time, it would be moot because we would catch/burn eachother immediately.

semanticdm36 karma

Please tell me you mean a literal burn. Matches at a minimum, extra points for a full on flamethrower.

OrangeAndBlack141 karma

Straight supernova

Damocles201017 karma

This was actually a stunt that Frank Monte ( a notorious scam-artist PI in Sydney, Australia) used to pull on people.. Mostly kids that paid him a lot of money to "train" at his (bullshit) "PI Academy"...

He'd get half a dozen of them following each other around the city...

It is much easier when there are three or more are playing this game...

OrangeAndBlack29 karma

I could actually see it being very fun, essntially the 'man' version of hide and seek.

Give yourself a nice sized area, think small America or a section of a Big city. Get free roam. Don't get noticed but find the others.

I'd be in!

glirkdient39 karma

How did you get into the job? Also what is the pay like?

OrangeAndBlack59 karma

The pay differs depending on situation.

Entry pay is around 14/hr plus .30 per mile driven. Full timer with plenty of experience will easily top 40.hr

The overtime hours is where PI's make a ton of money, I typically hit Overtime after thursday (starting on monday) and often worked 6 day weeks, so there is a good deal of money to be made.

JoeeoJ-38 karma

  • Do you need any type of license to be a PI?
  • Have you ever been following someone who figured you out and put a restraining order on you?
  • How much of your work is done at a compute researching someone vs following them or asking their friends about them IRL?
  • Have you ever been arrested for suspected stalking or burglary from being on a stakeout?

OrangeAndBlack66 karma

1) license requirements differ state to state

2) Never a restraining order, no

3) Typically, the cases come in the night before you go out on them. When I get the case in, I would do soem research, finding out basics about the person (how accesible is their info, what sites are they on, where do they work etc.)

While I'm on the case itself, I typically spend a fair amount of time waiting at the sit before I see them. While I'm here I will do more research on the claimant.

There are times where I would contact neighbors/friends either by phone or door to door in attempt to gain info. I typically would pose as 'lost guy who accidentally went to wrong address' (did this when I'm trying to see if claimant is home) or as someone who 'wants to offer you an opportunity to voice your opinion in a short survey!' and other similar gimmicks.

4) I have never been arrested, but I have had the cops called on me a few times. I have been pulled over while following because the claimant noticed or someone tipped them off, and I have had people call the cops on me while on a sit because I am parked illegally or inconveniently.

myeyeballhurts31 karma

Do you have any truly funny stories, like someone who claims they cant walk and then you caught them running a marathon? My husbands ex wife (this was like 6 -7 years ago) got "hurt" at work, her back and shoulder, something like that, claimed she couldnt work anymore and tried to sue and get workmans comp, all that stuff, the insurance company hired a PI and caught her at a bar riding a mechanical bull.

OrangeAndBlack66 karma

My favorite is probably the guy who tore his Achilles tendon and was out of work for 8 months. When I went to check on him he was jumping on the trampoline with his kids.

Ace-Ventura29 karma

Do you carry a weapon on you? Mace, tazer, pistol?

OrangeAndBlack43 karma

Just a spring action knife. Not issued anything. Again that differs by situation.

ithinkbackwards23 karma

I am a college student who wants to become a private investigator when I graduate. What are some things I might need to know to get into the business?

OrangeAndBlack43 karma

You can probably get into it now actually, though it would better suit you to do it as a summer job. It is very time consuming (some days can go well past 12 hours depending on what happens)

Honestly it is not as great as it sounds, though it does offer some excitement.

If I were you I would look online for PI jobs, even places like Monster

good luck!

ithinkbackwards17 karma

Thank you. What kind of things should I expect, like interviewing with established companies? Is it better to work for a company or work for myself?

OrangeAndBlack42 karma

Much better to work for a company.

It's regulated, if you do something stupid or get caught doing some of the sketchier things then it'll bounce onto the company and you won't have to deal with the full beatdown of the law. The court will side with the claimant 9/10 times because of the invasion of privacy.

Rastachronic22 karma

I've seen you mention "sit" a couple times. Is that a work related term or a typo?

OrangeAndBlack33 karma

I apologize, a 'sit' is when you are 'sitting' in your car staking someone out.

Jackandahalfass21 karma

Do you have access to LexisNexis database or any other special pay sites that allow you to discover more than what's free on the net?

OrangeAndBlack20 karma

This differs from company to company, but yes, as well as other websites that are very useful.

This was a useful app that I used: Docket in your Pocket

horse_you_rode_in_on18 karma

  • Is it true that 99% of a modern PI's work is either divorce or insurance claim related?

  • If so, have you ever been hired to do something dramatically different from those bread-and-butter investigations?

OrangeAndBlack25 karma

Without having a source to back it up, I would be able to confidently assume, yes, it is mostly those two things. I dealth with the insurance side and didn't stray far from it.

jiggster31817 karma


OrangeAndBlack40 karma

Pretty much. My real intention isn't to get someone 'in trouble', it's just to gather evidence for one argument or the other. It kind of goes like this:

Insurance Company: Firm, this guy broke his leg in march but is still collecting comp, go check it out!

Firm Alright, OrangeAndBlack, this guy has a leg injury claim, go check him out.

OrangeAndBlack Alright, he's on a men's softball team and is fixing the roof on his garage, got the film.


Alright, I haven't seen him once except when he went to the front door on crutches to say goodbye to his wife for work.

lieguy17 karma

I too am a PI and polygraph examiner. Pleased to meet you!

OrangeAndBlack16 karma

as always

unfriendlyfire15 karma


OrangeAndBlack25 karma

I haven't heard of people doing that. Shredded documents are pretty much useless. There are crazy people tho that might go thru the effort of matching back together the sheets of shredded documents, so if you're really that paranoid, then soak them after shredding.

Alenonimo12 karma

How do I know a place may be bugged? What are the signs that a person may be stalked by a private investigator?

OrangeAndBlack21 karma

I wouldn't be able to help you with bugging.

If you are getting odd phone calls, it may be someone is trying to see if you are home or when you are typically home, examples include *phone call with no one on the other line *phone call from a delivery service saying they are having trouble reaching you

Keep an eye out to see if you recognize any cars following you while driving. If you are paranoid about someone following you, try taking a random side street and pull a U-Turn.

the_mullet_fondler10 karma

Who are the easiest people to track? In other words, how can I make your job more difficult?

OrangeAndBlack60 karma

Don't be this

mactroneng9 karma

Inspired by some of the questions and answers posted here already:

Have you ever had to fend off a parking enforcement officer because you've been sitting in one spot too long?

OrangeAndBlack23 karma

Lol yes, quite a few times. "sir, I'm waiting for a friend" only works for so many hours. If it's a cop you can be honest and tell them why you're there.

jeryth6 karma

Say I want to track down my father but I only have a first and last name, and the name of a now defunct place of employment. What next?

OrangeAndBlack10 karma

No clue where he lives? try [white pages](www.whitepages.com)

OrangeAndBlack29 karma

o god...don't tell me i've been formatting wrong the entire day....