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Tha Man Who Disappears

Tha Man Who Disappears

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Published by Ateam-vietnam

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Published by: Ateam-vietnam on May 19, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"The Disappearing Man
 A look into the secret world of a man whose job it is to help people leave their livesbehind – forever.
 By Christopher S. Stewart --
July 2006.......................................................................................................................................The first person Frank Ahearn ever disappeared was Ken. He spotted him at a Borders innorth Jersey about three years ago - a pale, geeky-looking guy in a golf shirt and khakis,thumbing through a pile of books about Central America andoffshore banking. It took Frank about a half second to figure him out: Ken was skippingtown.“I betcha you’re going to buy a condo in Costa Rica,” Frank said to the man, hisvoice low, so no one else could hear. “And bank in Belize.”Ken’s slackened mouth curled into a big dumb O that almost made Frank laugh. Helooked at Frank - a tall, longhaired guy dressed in black with a cartoonish goatee, thick tattooed arms and a twisted and discolored front tooth - and fumbled for a response. Butnow Frank was talking again, running his mouth in his thick New York accent.“The problem is, if you’re running from someone,” he rattled on, “they’re going to findyou.”Ken looked like he might faint right there in the café part of Borders. So Frank decided to explain himself. He was a “skip tracer,” he told Ken - a slippery sort of  business that specialized in finding people. Mobsters, drug lords, wife beaters, rock stars- Frank found guys for a living. He’d hunted as far as Bali to bring them back.He knew all the tricks, and he couldn’t help but notice that Ken was already fuckingup.“You bought your books with a credit card and discount card,” Frank told Ken. Itwas a rookie mistake - both were easily traceable. A couple of well-placed phone calls,and any respectable private eye could find Ken in the time it took to microwave popcorn.Ken shifted uncomfortably in his sandals, still not believing this guy, wondering if he wasfor real - or if Frank, in fact, had been sent to hunt him down. But then Frank offered hima business card - depicting a De Chirico-esque mannequin standingalone on a white beach, staring out at a big blue ocean and a headline that asked simply“Are you looking for someone?” - and walked away, just like that.Two weeks later, Ken emailed. Frank was right: Ken was trying to run away. He was introuble. Not long ago the government had paid him big money to testify in a fraud caseagainst his former employer, a mid-sized supplies company with government contracts.Ken had been one of the company’s accountants. Somehow his name
had leaked, and he was targeted as a rat. He got mysterious phone calls. Threats weremade. A man approached him on the street and announced, cryptically, your “life will be made uncomfortable.” An ex-colleague warned “I’m gonna get you.”Ken told Frank he feared for his life. He’d thought about calling the police – butworried the police would never be able to fully protect him. He didn’t have any bigattachments - no wife, no children. He felt there was only one option. But Ken had noidea how to do it.Finally Ken summoned the nerve to ask Frank a question that changed both of their lives.“Can you help me disappear?”Frank Ahearn never thought he’d wind up helping people disappear. From the beginning,he’d always worked the other side. It was thrilling, sometimes dangerous work, finding people. Challenging, too. Usually, all Frank got was an old phonenumber or an abandoned address. Sometimes it was just a name and a city, anexceptionally tough request, but one that he could almost do with his eyes closed.To find someone, you had to fool people. Frank had an instinctive talent for “gagging” - devising elaborate, phony stories designed to elicit information out of individuals or companies that weren’t supposed to give it to him. “Professional lying,” hedubbed it. For instance, he’d call a utilities company, like Con Edison, and, posing as acollection agency, he’d ask for his victim’s forwarding address. Or he’d call a relative,tell them he was FedEx trying to deliver a package and extract the victim’s address thatway. Sometimes the work was mind-numbingly rote - toiling through miles of data,scouring records, flipping through the White Pages. If the person who disappeared knewwhat he was doing, it made Frank’s work even harder.But Frank was first-rate. “Frank has helped me track down hundreds of individuals,all of whom did not want to be located,” says Robert Jerlow, a private investigator from Orange, California, who specializes in fraud and organized crime. “He finds myguys and gals hiding under rocks all over the world.”He was so damned good that clients occasionally wondered if he’d been a New York Citydetective – or an FBI agent. Which made him chuckle a bit. Years ago, he was acceptedto the NYC police academy, but, at the last minute, he decided not to go.“I guess I didn’t like the uniformity of that sort of thing,” he says. “And the moneywasn’t very good.”In the early 1990s, Frank was hired by a private investigator (who was working for an insurance company) to hunt down Robert Scarletta and his wife who owned thenational armored truck company Revere Armored. As Frank remembers it, Scarletta andhis wife went on the run after authorities started asking questions about missing millions.Before leaving, they’d stuffed their private plane with cash, according to Frank. Bygagging small airports, Frank tracked that plane all over the country. He then lied tocasinos to get win loss statements, which showed that Scarletta was a heavy gambler,spending millions of dollars he didn’t have. And after four months or so of hunting, after compiling miles of incriminating data, the Scarlettas must have
felt the pressure of the situation because, as Frank says, they finally negotiated their surrender to authorities.Sometimes Frank’s assignments were glitzy. When the Oscars statues were stolenin 2000, Frank hunted down one of the key players. He says he found Monica Lewinsky before anyone else. (“I got her phone record framed on my wall,” he boasts.) Earlier thisyear, he was hired to locate the hotel clerk whom Russell Crowe cracked over the headwith a phone. That one was child’s play says Frank. Heturned the guy up in fifteen minutes flat.Were all of Frank’s techniques lawful? “A gray area,” he tells me, which is his coyway of confessing to the slipperiness of the job. He then cites the “Gram Leach BileyAct,” a federal law, which forbids people from lying about anything regarding afinancial institution. In other words, Frank can’t call up someone and pretend he’s a bank.“I follow this strictly,” he declares.Over the years Frank has worked for everyone – insurance companies, governmentagencies, private eyes, attorneys, tabloids. He did thousands of cases. Which, when hethought of it, meant that he also had thousands of enemies. He began to losesleep, worried about hang-up phone calls he got and jumped when he heard noisesin the night. “Did the crazy biker who got his MC repo’d figure out it was me?” he’dask himself. “Did the husband that got caught cheating know I was the one that pulled his phone records? Did we leave a trail?”He became fanatical about his privacy – still is today. Phone directories have nolisting for him. He has a P.O. box, but no official home address. Almost everything is paid for in cash. His sleek black Cadillac? Registered to an old address. When he travels,he switches hotels nightly – which is also a symptom of his interminable restlessness.Call one of the five world numbers listed on his website and you go straight to a voicemail. When I talked to him the first time, he said he had an office in Manhattan. Later, Ilearned he didn’t. Some private dick’s joke that Frank might not even exist. “I talk toguys a lot of guys on the phone, other PIs, and they’re like‘you’ve met this guy Frank, you know him?’” says Jerry Palace, a former NYPDdetective and now running his own investigative outfit in Westchester. “Frankie Boy is alegend. And it’s funny, I’m probably one of the only freakin’ guys who’ve met him.”One sweaty morning in late June I meet him on a grimy highway overpass innowhere, New Jersey, not far from the George Washington Bridge. We meet there because it’s an anonymous place, and Frank appreciates anonymous places. Frank, 41,with his brown heavy metal hair and sizeable frame, is sometimes mistaken for the professional wrestler Kevin Nash, who also played “The Russian” in the movie “ThePunisher.” Today, he sports faded jean shorts, leather boat shoes and an oversized whitewife beater with a picture of Bob Marley. “I’m a huge Bob Marley fan,” he hollers over ninety-mile per hour traffic, as we walk towards his just-washed black Cadillac. “He was always singing about freedom.”When Frank talks – and he’s always talking - his head and arms move rapidly as if to punctuate his points. “You can’t keep me still,” he says as he points the car south on

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