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Writer Evan Ratliff Has Vanished and He'll Pay You $5K to Find Him

Evan Ratliff knows how to pull a good disappearing act. For the August issue of Wired Magazine, Ratliff outlined the best way to literally disappear, citing the case of Matthew Alan Sheppard, a health and safety manager who faked his own death for insurance money, as a way to highlight the impossible possibilities of trading in an old identity. The digital age, with Google and social networking, makes it almost impossible to be completely fingerprint-free, but it also means its easier to create fake identities, or hack into someone else's. So Evan Ratlff hatched a plan.

His friends at Wired would provide the publicity, but he would do the hard work. He has volunteered all of his information: his name, height, weight, Twitter account, e-mail addresses, even his likes and interests. Then, for one month, from August 15 to September 15, he will disappear.

Ratliff lives in San Francisco and has given the magazine full access to his debit card information, which has tracked purchases like buying goods at Best Buy or a money transfer from checking into savings. Everything is there for the savvy spy to use, and the lucky investigator will get five thousand dollars and an interview in Wired.

Yes, every trick a clever hacker can use, Ratliff will use. On August 18th, the vanished writer was determined to be hiding under an IP blocker called Tor. He might drop fake clues. Wired has set up Twitter accounts and the hash tag #vanish to help people get together and voice their assumptions, but after giving the basic truths (height, weight, email address, age, location), Ratliff may lie, or at least create a ruse to keep 'investigators' from following his trail.

Is it possible to find a man in 30 days by only knowing his digital identity and the basic facts about him? In Ratliff's piece 'Gone Forever: What Does It Take to Really Disappear,' he mentions that people get sloppy. Even pre-paid phones, hidden IP addresses, and an erasure of self doesn't stop the impulse to monitor the chase or contact loved ones. So for those in the pursuit, stay vigilant. Ratliff doesn't have anything to lose besides a bet, so a misstep could be your ticket to five grand. [From:],feedConfig,entry&id=543240&pid=543239&uts=1250807222
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