Waking up on a grey London morning three years ago, Paul Sowerby and his family decided it was high time for family adventure and promptly switched hemispheres. Swapping life as a crime journalist for sunshine on the west coast of Australia, Paul, 48, is now the National Marketing Director for Perth-based Worldwide Online Printing.
After 20 years of reporting news for national newspapers and television, covering wars and elections, and interviewing serial killers and presidents. I simply got bored. Now, in Australia, I improve communications channels, foster mutually rewarding business relationships and help competent people to become exceptional.
I made the change by securing a 161 Senior Executive Visa and moved from a 1750s chocolate-box cottage to the beach. We didn’t know anyone. I had no job or income opportunities and didn’t speak the right way. So, I went back to basics. I set up a copywriting agency, which grew quickly and was acquired by Worldwide in December 2007.
Looking back, I’d have been less arrogant and wouldn’t have assumed it would be easy to earn a living in Australia. I’d have backed myself earlier. There was plenty of copywriting work out there. I just didn’t look carefully enough. I’d also have bought a bigger boat.
My advice to others is to always back yourself. If you think you can, you can – and vice versa. Bet the house. It’s better to lose out by throwing everything at your goal and falling short than by not trying hard enough in the first place. And embrace change. If it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to keep trying different things until it does. What’s the worst that could happen?
How to simply disappear
Is it possible in this high-tech world to dump your current life – your credit cards, your connections, your identity – and vanish without a trace? Well, our readers wanted to know. But the spooks weren’t prepared to tell us how. Finally, we convinced ‘Anonymous Ant Esquire’ to research the art of disappearing.
As long as the police aren’t on your tail, vanishing from society isn’t (apparently) that hard to achieve. According to various notso- reputable websites, the key is cash.
The general tip is to avoid putting your name on anything. (Like, der!) Buy prepaid cell phones and change them every few months. (I watch Sopranos, too, brainiacs.)
But if that gets tricky, apply for an Ecaid credit card, a nameless card stamped solely with an account number. It will stash your funds in an untraceable account. (What the?! Could the chatroom chatterbugs actually know what they’re talking about?)
Creating a new identity, according to the ‘experts’ once again, is where it gets tricky.
The most common way to start again once involved borrowing the identity of a dead person through a process called paperchasing or paper tripping.
Papertrippers would wander through cemeteries searching for the graves of dead people born around the same year they were. They would then write down the information on the headstone and use it to resurrect the dead child’s identity on paper – and assume it as their own.
The main problem now is that this method has been so widely used by career criminals that it’s now the most likely way to get caught.
Firstly, other identity seekers may have visited the same gravestone before you. (Do you really want to take the chance that you’ll be sharing your new identity with someone on the FP’s top ten most wanted list?)
Secondly, it’s something that the Federal Police have wised up to.
In short, taking on a new identity is complex but, thanks again to our nefarious friends on the internet, there are many dark (or at least morally grey) sites that offer new identity kits for a fist full of American dollars.
So, if the internet chatter is anything to go by, there are enough deadbeat dads and fugitives living the quiet life to prove that vanishing is very possible.