Disappointed by the alarming dearth of intelligence in the modern criminal mind, and with the eventual goal of providing more interesting and alluring white-collar crime mysteries for our readers, we have developed this guide in order to give the modern financial thief a fighting chance at remaining "at large" for at least 60-90 days after consummating a significant fraud.
We at Dealbreaker are dedicated to the preservation of entertaining white-collar crime stories. This seems the most effective way to increase their number.
Below you will find a series of financial crime cover-up "Do's" and "Don'ts." Obviously, however, we frown on unethical behavior in any form, and you should always consult your professional financial, legal and tax advisers before embarking on a multi-year flight from justice.
Do: Prepare your escape well before your imminent discovery.
There is nothing worse than trying to plan the many tiers of logistics that are required to effectuate a decent escape and prepare a livable fugitive lifestyle while under time pressure. Rushing things tends to create transparent plans, needlessly involves co-conspirators and makes for bad decision making. (Parking your SUV in the field of view of a video camera when pretending to jump from a local bridge famous for suicide attempts, for instance). Time will permit you to disable the relevant cameras before the attempt, or select a proper location without such perfect coverage.
Don't: Lose your cool in the face of time pressure if your plans go awry, or if you failed to make any plans or anticipate your imminent discovery.
Ok, we were wrong: There is something worse than trying to plan the many tiers of logistics that are required to effectuate a decent escape, like voluntarily having a conversation with a policeman an hour after you declared an in-air emergency and faked your own death and, in the course of that conversation, handing over your real driver's license. This is panic-driven behavior. Not to rub it in, but if you had worked on the time part, you'd be better off. Since you didn't, however, keeping your cool is pretty essential. If you aren't up for that, well, perhaps you should have concentrated on HVAC work?
Do: Lose the wife/girlfriend/boyfriend. Period. Seriously. No, seriously.
You aren't doing her a favor by including her in your plans and forcing upon her the choice of either being a co-conspirator, an accessory before the fact, and probably after the fact, or keeping silent and facing significant prosecutorial pressure to turn on you (which will eventually prevail- how exactly do you think she will handle the asset freeze?), or turning you in right after you walk out the door. Besides, once you hit the beach in Venezuela, she's going to look a lot older, and far less appealing in a swimsuit than you remembered- particularly compared to the local women. Plus, you will face the burden of owing everything to her and that is simply not a weight that a woman like that is going to let a man forget. Ever. Never ever. The Saks Fifth Avenue in Caracas is no Saks Fifth Avenue at all. This alone should be reason to end all argument on this topic. You will likely prosper with the chance to begin again. She is assured not to. If you absolutely must include her in your plans (perhaps she was the firm's CFO, will be able to cast serious doubt on your tragic death story, etc.) then make sure to conceal the body well before your arrival in Venezuela.
Don't: Tell the new girl about your clever escape.
Local girls are best kept in the dark. Pick a very pretty and not very smart one. She will never question the story that you lost both your very wealthy, European parents at a young age and came into a vast sum of money but have tired of the droll United States, and in your new home no one is going to think more highly of you for having a smart significant other- just one who looks fifteen years your junior, deadly in the swimsuit and has no need of plastic surgery. (Remember, you are in the third world now, no matter what they say about doctors in Costa Rica, the "Switzerland of the tropics," surgery is a no-no).
Do: Have a plausible explanation for why your body is not found.
If you must select the "faked death" method, planning for the certain investigatory flux that will follow is key. Every suicide is also a homicide. The same detectives are going to be poking around. Yes, if they have college degrees they are probably from state schools, but this isn't Goldman Sachs anymore. They have been doing this a long time and they are highly motivated. They can guess and guess and guess wrong for weeks. You get to miss once. Moreover, if you left some holes in financial accounts, and your body isn't found, the world (and Dealbreaker readers) will immediately call "Shenanigans." Ken Lay is STILL rumored to be alive by select groups of Dealbreaker readers, and we posted the corner's report for his death, for crying out loud. This takes careful planning to present the proper level of uncertainty without appearing overly contrived. Reporting an in-flight emergency, for example, pins down exactly who was in control of the plane when. Your voice is recorded, you exact whereabouts are known at the time of the "incident." Having your plane found on the ground, on an improvised landing strip, low on fuel, door open with a substantial amount of blood in the cockpit and a bullet hole in the side after a lot of radio silence is much more mind boggling. Mind boggling is very good. Adding enough regular large-money transactions to imply that you were being blackmailed and a few bricks of cocaine to be found in your home and the story almost tells itself.
Don't: Watch CSI. (Also known as: Don't try to substitute a body for your own).
Forget all those stories about ammonia frustrating DNA testing, and the like. A concentration of ammonia in the absence of an ammonia plant is, itself, going to raise suspicion. Stealing a body from the morgue/funeral home is far more difficult than hiding a corpse you yourself just killed. Corpses are heavy, difficult to conceal, as well as sneak out of the facility, and you can't cut up the body you plan to use as your stand in to increase portability before you use it. Then there is the problem of finding a physically compatible body, no small trial. Plus, someone is going to get static for losing said body, paperwork will be filled out (surprisingly, losing an already dead body is much more administratively tasking than losing several billion dollars) and unless you cut off hands, head, break out teeth and deal with the DNA testing of ALL the tissue, well, the game won't last long. How many bodies go missing in a given 7 day period, after all? (Ok, we might be low-balling this in New York and Arkansas, but you understand our meaning). "Killed by blackmailer, body still missing," is far more convincing than "body dissolved into strange goo by mysterious acid like substance," no matter what the one hour drama writers tell you.
Do: Use blood.
Taking half a unit a day from yourself for a week or so will give you plenty of blood for any investigator. (Don't let your wife find your stash in the freezer). Some signs of a struggle along with enough blood to trigger the "there is no way this much blood could have been spilled without a loss of consciousness" analysis can be very effective. A missing body with that much blood certainly suggests a separate perpetrator. Class III to Class IV hemorrhage levels should be sufficient. Think around two to maybe three liters if you are an average sized male. Resist the temptation to use seven liters for effect. Less is more.
Don't: Use an accelerant that doesn't belong there in the first place.
Yes, diesel mixed with a bit of oil burns more persistently, longer, and eradicates more evidence- that is except for diesel residue evidence, which only belongs in a diesel car or truck.
Do: Consider physics.
If you are smart enough to have a pilot's license you are smart enough to know that leaving the clamshell door on your Malibu open is going to increase drag and reduce range. You also know that leaving the autopilot on is going to cause that plane to do its damnedest to manage the flight controls for a slow, measured glide after it runs out of fuel. The result is a very boring bit of wreckage and lots of evidence left behind with no fire, instead of a catastrophic, burning accident. Plan accordingly. For reference, jumping out of a flying plane and managing to close the door is easier with an over-wing aircraft and flying at 2,000 feet with your transponder turned off is simply not going to keep you off of radar records- particularly near the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) of a major drug traffic path state (like Florida) where balloon mounted AN/PPS-5 radars are generally in operation. Finally, after the skewering air-defense and intercept capabilities took following 9/11, be aware that fighters are very likely to catch up with your plane if you report something odd and then go radio silent. Report your difficulty right before your plane "crashes."
Don't: Draw attention to yourself if you are supposed to be "dead."
Look people, if you aren't prepared for the boring and isolated existence that belongs to the fugitive from justice, don't plan on being a fugitive from justice. Resist the temptation to send cute postcards from exotic locals to former acquaintances, your wife, your mistress, your boss, your victims, or the FBI. Yes, "The weather is here, wish you were nice," is clever in a dorky sort of way. No, it's not a good idea. Do not pose for pictures. Do not save the life of that drowning tourist couple and then vanish mysteriously leaving them to babble on TV about the nice man who saved them. Do not approach law enforcement officers with a story about a terrible accident. Do not approach anyone with sky-diving goggles on your head and claim to have been canoeing. Do not pay the hotel clerk with a $100 bill. Do not check into a hotel and then flee before even going in the room.
To be continued in Part II....
Earlier:Today's Ponzi Trifecta Begins?
Much Earlier:Manhunt Continues