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Old 04-05-2019, 05:25 AM
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How criminal is it to walk away from my own life?


Suppose I just decide to pack up and leave my home, my job and everything else in my life and live in a cave somewhere? There's nothing going on in my life such as pending prosecution, difficult family life, out of control debts or trouble with criminal elements that would prompt anyone to think I had some strong reason to disappear. I'm fully aware that my friends and family believe that I was probably a victim of foul play, they have reported my absence to the authorities and everyone concerned is searching for me. They're looking for me, I know it and I'm doing everything I can to avoid their search. As far as anyone else knows, I just fell off the face of the Earth and there is no obvious reason for it.

In this hypothetical example, assume that I live alone with no spouse or children so there is nobody in my life who might be considered 'abandoned' in any kind of legal sense. Walking away from my mortgage and other debts would be an issue for the civil courts and not likely to result in criminal prosecution should my existence be revealed.

Say I hide this way for years, maybe even after I've been declared legally dead. When I finally do resurface, what criminal charges am I likely to face?
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Old 04-05-2019, 06:26 AM
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Walking away from cars with loans on them would result in repossession by the lender.

Walking away from your mortgage would result in foreclosure by the bank. I'm not sure what the bank would do with any of your personal property you abandoned in/at your home, but I can't imagine they'd store it for very long after foreclosure. Maybe it (your stuff) would end up at auction?

Walking away from credit card debts and other bills would result in collection agencies sending you dunning notices and trying to reach you over the phone, and eventually you'd end up with black marks on your credit rating for all of this stuff.

I can't imagine any criminal charges that would apply to someone who merely avoided contact with all of their previously known associates.
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Old 04-05-2019, 06:43 AM
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If you hide out with the intent of discharging debts by getting yourself declared dead, could a particularly creative prosecutor charge you with fraud? After all, you're engaging in misleading actions for personal financial gain.
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Old 04-05-2019, 06:56 AM
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If you hide out with the intent of discharging debts by getting yourself declared dead, could a particularly creative prosecutor charge you with fraud? After all, you're engaging in misleading actions for personal financial gain.
I would argue that a hermit or anchorite is neither misleading anyone nor obtaining financial gain (or financial anything).

Also, for the sake of argument, psychogenic fugue is a real, albeit rare, disorder. that could theoretically last for years.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:11 AM
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If you hide out with the intent of discharging debts by getting yourself declared dead, could a particularly creative prosecutor charge you with fraud? After all, you're engaging in misleading actions for personal financial gain.
I would think this would only apply if they could clearly show that you intended to create the impression that you had died. The case of Marcus Schrenker may be of interest here. Saddled with legal and financial problems, he tried to fake his own death in a very real plane crash. He faced a stack of criminal charges for his financial crimes prior to the crash, and he was charged for the deliberate destruction of an aircraft and causing the unnecessary activation of a rescue response, but it's not clear that any of his charges were related to faking his death to escape his debts.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:17 AM
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I can't imagine any criminal charges that would apply to someone who merely avoided contact with all of their previously known associates.
Assuming I'm a legal adult or emancipated minor, I have every right to leave my family and friends behind with no word of explanation. But I'm doing more than merely avoiding contact. I've actively evading a police investigation. I could solve a lot of problems by walking into any police station, establishing my identity and telling them to stop looking for me. As an adult, I don't believe that they would forward my location and contact info to my family against my specific instructions. I'm not doing that though. The police are looking for me, I know it and I'm actively avoiding their investigation. Could avoiding the police in this way be a criminal act in and of itself?
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:45 AM
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Could avoiding the police in this way be a criminal act in and of itself?
Unless you're actively avoiding prosecution for a crime I can't imagine that not providing yourself to the police when they're looking for you is a crime. Police doing a wellness check doesn't compel you to present yourself, or cooperate in any way.

My biggest worry would be about taxes. If you left partway through a year you'd still need to file a federal tax return. Even if you have no income you may need to file.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:02 AM
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Over here, and I suspect over there too, simply vanishing will not create any kind of investigation by the cops unless there was some evidence of foul play or criminal activity.

I believe that hundreds of people do exactly this every year and all the police will do is file a misper.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:22 AM
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One question is, "How are you sustaining yourself after you vanish?" If you have a job, or even assets other than cash, your will either be identified as yourself, or will need an assumed identity. If you use your own information, you will be found. If you use an assumed identity, I assume you would violate some financial/tax laws. Working for cash likely violates tax provisions.

Not sure there would be anything illegal if somehow or another you amassed enough cash that you carried around with you (how big of a suitcase would you need?) and simply lived on cash for the rest of you life. Initially withdrawing/amassing that amount of cash would likely trigger reporting requirements. If you failed to comply with those, there could be criminal penalties.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:01 AM
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Well, it's flight. We flee what we fear. In the case such as your hypothetical, and the real case for me, fifty years ago, it is not illegal, but it is maladaptive behavior. Nothing you fled fails to come along with you. It does make misdemeanors out of lots of small matters of regular life. Not that anyone cares.

But, the cop questions require answers. Who are you? What's your address? Do you have any identification? Where are you going? What are you doing here? It's like getting arrested by Immanuel Kant, if you don't have any answers. There are no right or wrong answers, but you need an answer.

Find an answer. You can get help if you need it.

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Old 04-05-2019, 10:09 AM
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Initially withdrawing/amassing that amount of cash would likely trigger reporting requirements. If you failed to comply with those, there could be criminal penalties.
As the withdrawing bank customer, you're not responsible for reporting; the bank is.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:20 AM
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“...a cave somewhere.”

Hmmm. But where? In America? Because there’s a lot of places you could off to and pretty much be fine. Places like Bangkok and Manila, for example, have a sizeable contingent of expats who left to escape something untoward in their home country. From child support, alimony, to all kinda of financial ‘misunderstandings’ or scary ex partners. Nobody has been seeking them out and many have been there for ages.

(I do think the digital age is gonna catch up to these people hard one day, but years of basking in another life have made them pretty complacent, in my experience.)

If you’re not fleeing a legally binding issue, I don’t see that you are committing any crime, or have any obligation to be found if you so choose.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:32 AM
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Even if you are wanted for a crime you committed there will be a statute of limitations that can expire, except for murder. However, if you've been sentenced for a crime but did not do the time I believe you will still have to serve that sentence no matter how much time has gone by. In actual cases like that the sentence is sometimes forgiven, but it tends to piss off the state and they want their pound of flesh.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:46 AM
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Even if you are wanted for a crime you committed there will be a statute of limitations that can expire, except for murder.
Fleeing to escape prosecution may negate the statute of limitations while you are on the run. But IIRC you have to actively take steps to avoid prosecution (such as moving out of the jurisdiction or changing your name), which might apply in the OP.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:56 AM
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Even if you are wanted for a crime you committed there will be a statute of limitations that can expire, except for murder. However, if you've been sentenced for a crime but did not do the time I believe you will still have to serve that sentence no matter how much time has gone by. In actual cases like that the sentence is sometimes forgiven, but it tends to piss off the state and they want their pound of flesh.
IANAL but my understanding is that once prosecutors file the paperwork, then that changes the statute of limitations. Flight from prosecution is also a crime by itself so that even if the prosecutors drop the original charge, you could still be charged and convicted on flight, and the statutory clock wouldn't even begin until you return. I'm also guessing that if the long arm of the law wanted you, they could issue an order to forfeit your passport. They could certainly choose not to renew it, which means you'd have to get citizenship somewhere else.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:10 AM
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Fleeing to escape prosecution may negate the statute of limitations while you are on the run. But IIRC you have to actively take steps to avoid prosecution (such as moving out of the jurisdiction or changing your name), which might apply in the OP.
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IANAL but my understanding is that once prosecutors file the paperwork, then that changes the statute of limitations. Flight from prosecution is also a crime by itself so that even if the prosecutors drop the original charge, you could still be charged and convicted on flight, and the statutory clock wouldn't even begin until you return. I'm also guessing that if the long arm of the law wanted you, they could issue an order to forfeit your passport. They could certainly choose not to renew it, which means you'd have to get citizenship somewhere else.
I was assuming something earlier in the process, but there probably isn't much there, once you know you would be wanted it would be hard to convince anyone you didn't flee to avoid prosecution.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:27 AM
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One question is, "How are you sustaining yourself after you vanish?" If you have a job, or even assets other than cash, your will either be identified as yourself, or will need an assumed identity. If you use your own information, you will be found. If you use an assumed identity, I assume you would violate some financial/tax laws. Working for cash likely violates tax provisions.
My plan would be to meet a woman with a young child, sweep her off her feet, then become a stay at home dad, helping her in raising her child. Eventually I would share my history.

Yes, I've considered this in my distant past.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:38 AM
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If you have no debt [mortgage, credit cards, car loans, student loans] there is nothing stopping you from ditching your life if everything is zeroed out [taxes filed for that year, all debts paid, leases cancelled or whatnot] If you have valid ID, and resources [money being the main one, cash is best] then how you live is up to you. Are you going to get a job in your new location, how will you pay for food and transportation?


As a woman that had a stalker I had given this a fair amount of thought, if I needed to disappear it would have been easier than if I had been a man - all I would have needed to do was get to a fairly large urban area [Los Angeles?] and find a man willing to let me shack up with him in exchange for sex, cooking and cleaning services - et voila! no rent, no bills, and I could possibly make money under the table babysitting or cleaning houses while not working a 'real job' and with mass transit or borrowing a vehicle, no pesky need to show my ID around as long as I don't get a traffic stop or arrested for anything. A man would have a more difficult time of it, there being certain expectations of shacking up with a guy - he has a job and a vehicle, and acts like a normal guy.


Now if you intend to just pull up stakes and get a new job and residence wherever you end up, as long as you are not running from debts and the law, no big deal - hell, you can even change your name legally and make it slightly more difficult to track you down by name [they could stlll find you with your SSN]
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Old 04-05-2019, 12:36 PM
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Suppose I just decide to pack up and leave my home, my job and everything else in my life and live in a cave somewhere?
You're not trespassing in the cave, are you?

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There's nothing going on in my life such as pending prosecution, difficult family life, out of control debts or trouble with criminal elements that would prompt anyone to think I had some strong reason to disappear.
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I'm fully aware that my friends and family believe that I was probably a victim of foul play, they have reported my absence to the authorities and everyone concerned is searching for me.
What your friends, family and even the police come to believe is irrelevant. What might be relevant, under certain circumstances, is what you intended them to believe. Just disappearing doesn't suggest that you led them to believe there was foul play. For example, leaving a fake ransom note or driving your car off a bridge to fake a drowning could be a problem if you're doing it to perpetrate a fraud.

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They're looking for me, I know it and I'm doing everything I can to avoid their search. As far as anyone else knows, I just fell off the face of the Earth and there is no obvious reason for it.
Again, without fraudulently faking your disappearance or fleeing the law, I don't see what they are doing as any of your concern. As a general rule, you don't owe other people your whereabouts, even if they love you.

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In this hypothetical example, assume that I live alone with no spouse or children so there is nobody in my life who might be considered 'abandoned' in any kind of legal sense. Walking away from my mortgage and other debts would be an issue for the civil courts and not likely to result in criminal prosecution should my existence be revealed.
Well, you've answered your own question here but I will note that if you ran up debts with the intention of walking away from them, it would be fraudulent, and there is likely some crime in your state as well as federal banking laws that would apply.

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Say I hide this way for years, maybe even after I've been declared legally dead. When I finally do resurface, what criminal charges am I likely to face?
Unless you did something to fake your death to commit fraud, it's not your fault you were declared dead so I doubt any charges would apply. However, even though you've reappeared, you can't get away from your judicial death so easily. For example, if your estate had been probated and distributed in accordance with the laws of your state, that property is likely gone for good. You may also have problems doing things like claiming social security checks, government benefits, and retirement benefits. You might have to sort out issues if your life insurance got paid to your beneficiaries.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:52 PM
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If you disappear to Manila or Bangkok I presume there is paperwork required to live in a foreign country in this day and age, which will in one way or another make itself known back home too. How likely are the local authorities to ignore that? Plus you need money. I imagine the living to be had in caves etc. is already taken by locals trying to eke out a living. I assume even in third world countries, to make enough money to not live in a cave requires some sort of paperwork. I assume a lot of the older Get-Away-From-It-All expats are living on a pension which is a comfortable fortune overseas. Of course, you could always join a Shao-Lin monastery and take up Kung Fu.

The only likely way to move away and not get noticed that I can think of is to be an EU citizen and disappear to a different EU country which has little in common with the other?
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:24 PM
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I'm fully aware that my friends and family believe that I was probably a victim of foul play, they have reported my absence to the authorities and everyone concerned is searching for me.
I'm not so sure this part is accurate- on this page , a former NYPD Sgt/current adjunct professor of criminal justice says:


Quote:
Once the NYPD receives a call about a missing person, its response will depend on the circumstances of each case. People who are elderly, children under the age of 13, people suffering from a mental or physical condition, or possible victims of a crime are considered “special categories.” Police consider these populations particularly vulnerable and will immediately take action in searching for the missing person.

However, missing people who do not fall under these categories will not receive as much attention. This is because people over the age of 18 legally do not have to return home.

“Unless we can prove that there was an involuntary disappearance, we just file paperwork,” said Giacalone.

So it's very possible that the police will not be searching for you.

Last edited by doreen; 04-05-2019 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 04-06-2019, 01:52 AM
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I'm not so sure this part is accurate- on this page , a former NYPD Sgt/current adjunct professor of criminal justice says:





So it's very possible that the police will not be searching for you.
That will be pretty much universally true. Although each jurisdiction can allocate their resources as they see fit, NCIC will only allow someone to be entered as missing if they are considered endangered.
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:03 AM
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That will be pretty much universally true. Although each jurisdiction can allocate their resources as they see fit, NCIC will only allow someone to be entered as missing if they are considered endangered.
So will they do anything at all? Will there at least be some kind of general notice sent out? "Hey, if your jurisdiction has an unidentified, male, pasty, fat-ass clogging up your morgue, let us know. He might be our missing person."
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Old 04-06-2019, 03:27 AM
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If you disappear to Manila or Bangkok I presume there is paperwork required to live in a foreign country in this day and age, which will in one way or another make itself known back home too. How likely are the local authorities to ignore that? Plus you need money. I imagine the living to be had in caves etc. is already taken by locals trying to eke out a living. I assume even in third world countries, to make enough money to not live in a cave requires some sort of paperwork. I assume a lot of the older Get-Away-From-It-All expats are living on a pension which is a comfortable fortune overseas.
No. The US doesn’t keep track of who leaves the country, and local paperwork doesn’t automatically flow back to the US government, let alone local governments.

There are some circumstances where information does get transferred. For example, after many years of living in Japan I went back to the US with my then wife. As she was Japanese, US customs was able to understand that I was living in Japan and asked for my Japanese resident ID number. I had been in and out of the States many times previous to that. However, customs would not share that information with local governments. How could they? They wouldn’t know where in the US I’m from.

There are not a few foreigners living in Asia who are living with a local and work off the books such as running a bar together.

Unless you are running from the law, living in a foreign country is a way people can easily “disappear.”
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Old 04-06-2019, 08:51 AM
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No. The US doesn’t keep track of who leaves the country, and local paperwork doesn’t automatically flow back to the US government, let alone local governments.

There are some circumstances where information does get transferred. For example, after many years of living in Japan I went back to the US with my then wife. As she was Japanese, US customs was able to understand that I was living in Japan and asked for my Japanese resident ID number. I had been in and out of the States many times previous to that. However, customs would not share that information with local governments. How could they? They wouldn’t know where in the US I’m from.

There are not a few foreigners living in Asia who are living with a local and work off the books such as running a bar together.

Unless you are running from the law, living in a foreign country is a way people can easily “disappear.”
I just remember the complete questionnaire I had to fill out two years ago for a simple tourism visit to India. The rules about anything longer than tourist visas to Egypt or Tanzania (to pick 2 other examples) seemed similar. Staying longer implied a lot of red tape.
Plus the problem going to a different country is going to be money -there are a lot less privacy rights from authorities, you can't carry too much money out of the USA without breaking laws, I assume the authorities will want taxes (and hence documentation) for anyone working for enough money to maintain a passable lifestyle... Dealing with a bank will require documentation, and don't think the locals won't notice and gossip if you show up in the village market regularly with foreign currency and nobody has seen you go to the bank. Western history is full of stories of the local thugs deciding that that old miser must have a pile of money hidden in their house, and then torturing him to try to find it. Foreign countries will be the same.

What does it take to be a permanent resident of the Philippines or Thailand? I suppose one of the advantages there is not so much you disappear and nobody has any idea, but you are lost in a maze of chaos (especially if you use a mail drop) and it would be difficult for an American to track you down.
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Old 04-06-2019, 10:32 AM
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I've lived overseas for over 30 years, I'm slightly aware of what is necessary to live and work in a foreign country.
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I just remember . . .

(snip)

Foreign countries will be the same.
None of this has anything to do with my answer. Let me remind you.
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No. The US doesn’t keep track of who leaves the country, and local paperwork doesn’t automatically flow back to the US government, let alone local governments or whatever "back home" means.
This of course is in response to your statement.
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If you disappear to Manila or Bangkok I presume there is paperwork required to live in a foreign country in this day and age, which will in one way or another make itself known back home too.
My answer has not changed.

No. This information does not in one way or another make itself known back home unless the government is actively looking for someone, such as someone who is wanted for a serious crime.

Cite that it does. Otherwise, there isn't anything to discuss.
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Old 04-06-2019, 11:35 AM
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So will they do anything at all? Will there at least be some kind of general notice sent out? "Hey, if your jurisdiction has an unidentified, male, pasty, fat-ass clogging up your morgue, let us know. He might be our missing person."
Like I said each individual agency can waste the time of their detectives as they wish. An adult is free to leave their home whenever they wish. And they don't have to tell anyone. That's not a police matter.

What is considered an endangered missing person is governed by what is required to be entered into the National Crime Information Center database.

The categories are:
  • have a proven physical or mental disability (Disability - EMD)
  • are missing under circumstances indicating that they may be in physical danger (Endangered - EME)
  • are missing after a catastrophe (Catastrophe Victim - EMV)
  • are missing under circumstances indicating their disappearance may not have been voluntary (Involuntary - EMI)
  • are under the age of 21 and do not meet the above criteria (Juvenile - EMJ)
  • are 21 and older and do not meet any of the above criteria but for whom there is a reasonable concern for their safety (Other - EMO)

The last one is pretty broad and a judgement call. Depending on what the reporting party says your regular guy who just walked away might be put in that category.
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Old 04-08-2019, 02:33 AM
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The only likely way to move away and not get noticed that I can think of is to be an EU citizen and disappear to a different EU country which has little in common with the other?
I fear what they told you about the EU is wrong: If you move to another country, you may only stay without a visa for three months, after that period you have to register with the autorities and will need a residence permit, a work permit too if you intend to work. Then you will get an ID-card showing who you are and your status: legally residing EU-foreigner (the UK does it differently, granted, see where that got them). That will be notified to the original country. In most countries (perhaps all) in the EU you will have to show you have unregistered in your original country to allow for this procedure, they want to avoid granting legal residence in several countries simultaneously. You do not have the right to live wherever you want in the EU: you only have the right to work there as an employee. For that a work contract is often required. If you want to stay without a contract you may have to prove you have the financial means not to be a burden on your new State: if you are a Romanian pensioner with a 100€/month pension you will not be granted the right to live in Germany with a much higher level of guaranteed social benefits. Whatever you do, the autorities in the EU (the UK is perhaps different but probably not a Member State for much longer and let's be frank: where in the UK would you like to disappear?) will want you to register: they may give you formal rights or simply tolerate you, but they will want to know where you are and who you are.
€urope and its Member States have the propensity to become more and more bureaucratic with the passing time: are the U$A any different in this regard?
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Old 04-08-2019, 07:09 PM
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, you can't carry too much money out of the USA without breaking laws,.
I don't remember the specifics for the USA, but the more common recent rule was that you had to notify on exit if you were carrying a lot of money (or equivalent notes).

And some countries have got rid of even that requirement.

The rule on not exporting currency at all was from when countries ran strict exchange rate controls. Not many countries try to do that now.
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Old 04-09-2019, 01:52 AM
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I don't remember the specifics for the USA, but the more common recent rule was that you had to notify on exit if you were carrying a lot of money (or equivalent notes).



And some countries have got rid of even that requirement.



The rule on not exporting currency at all was from when countries ran strict exchange rate controls. Not many countries try to do that now.
AFAIK, you are correct in the US has not had a law restricting the amount of cash, but requires declaring the amount when either entering or leaving the country.

Other countries have similar laws. I’d be surprised if many countries repealing those laws. Often the last 36 years of my experience, the laws have gotten tighter rather than looser.
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Old 04-09-2019, 02:42 PM
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I don't remember the specifics for the USA, but the more common recent rule was that you had to notify on exit if you were carrying a lot of money (or equivalent notes).

And some countries have got rid of even that requirement.

The rule on not exporting currency at all was from when countries ran strict exchange rate controls. Not many countries try to do that now.
Oh, yes, it's perfectly legal to leave the USA with a valise carrying $1M in small unmarked bills. It's also perfectly legal for customs to seize that cash and hold it for the authorities, who will then take it as asset forfeiture unless you hire a lawyer to defend the money and prove the money has done nothing wrong. It's entirely possible that you may actually be allowed to leave the USA unmolested (or rather, your money unmolested) carrying several hundred thou in cash. I rate it highly unlikely, since there are areas of the USA where simply driving down the highway will get the contents of your wallet confiscated by the police since you cannot prove you did not get it as proceeds of crime. (Skin hue is a factor)

I find it hard to believe this reporting requirement is disappearing from international travel, given that the USA is twisting arms all over the world for the (perfectly justifiable) goal of throttling money-laundering techniques for the drug trade and organized crime in general.

But to get back to the OP - leaving the country with enough cash to live comfortably for decade(s) is not trivial and certain to draw notice.

I also wonder what the legal requirements are for foreigners seeking to spend extended periods in third world countries. I know it's possible - I saw a large number of "hippy" types in Pushkar, for example. they can't all be living on daddy's largesse. Are the rules typically overlooked by authorities given financial incentives? I imagine requiring some form of financial self-sufficiency would be a minimum requirement.
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Old 04-09-2019, 02:47 PM
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I fear what they told you about the EU is wrong: If you move to another country, you may only stay without a visa for three months, after that period ...[snip]...
How likely in a large cosmopolitan city like Berlin or Paris that the authorities would notice a foreigner unless they do something to draw attention?
What do those Brits etc. who like to spend 6 months a year in their villa in Spain do for legalities?

(Of course, if you go off to live in a rural cave, you stand out and the Park Rangers or whatever and the local villagers will certainly notice.)

Last edited by md2000; 04-09-2019 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 04-09-2019, 03:24 PM
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Crystal Haag was only 14 when she ran away, but she managed to build a completely new life pretending to be 23, and lived for 21 years in New York City until she decided on her own to reconnect with her family. She had a felony drug conviction in her new identity, but no issues with the law when she returned to Baltimore.
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Old 04-09-2019, 03:35 PM
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we had a local guy walk away , he was married . He left from his job at a 7/11 type place and at first cops thought he was a crime victim. After 6 months or so someone spotted him around New Orleans. He did come back not long after that and divorced his wife, I think his kids were grown. I think he wanted to be fishing guide so that's what he did after he left.
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Old 04-09-2019, 03:38 PM
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[*]are 21 and older and do not meet any of the above criteria but for whom there is a reasonable concern for their safety (Other - EMO)
I assure you their reputation for self-harm is greatly exaggerated
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Old 04-09-2019, 06:41 PM
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If you are a US Citizen who earns income, the timing would be tricky, because you are required to file a 1040 with the IRS every year, unless you have no income that year or your income is a negligible amount (less than $1,000 IIRC). Suppose you have a job, earning $500 per week, taxes withheld and everything, and then you decide to take off in October of 2019. After April 15th of 2020, you're in trouble with the IRS for failure to file. Okay, so you wait until April of 2020 (after you've filed for 2019) and then take off. But not so fast, now you'll get in trouble on April 15th of 2021. You'd have to wait for January of 2021, file for 2020, and then take off before you've earned enough money in 2021 to require you to file in 2022. Tricky.

I have known a few people who failed to file a 1040 for a few years. Some of them got away with it, others got unpleasant letters from the IRS saying the IRS decided to make assumptions about the taxpayer's income during the missing years, and consequently sent the taxpayer a hefty bill for extra taxes owed on fictional money. If they do that and you come back to civilization more than four years later, you've missed your window of opportunity to file an amended return, and now you owe lots of money to the IRS, and they could go after you for failing to pay it.

Of course, it would be even worse if the IRS was convinced that you intentionally tried to avoid paying your rightfully owed taxes. They could prosecute you for tax evasion.

Last edited by sbunny8; 04-09-2019 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 04-09-2019, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
I find it hard to believe this reporting requirement is disappearing from international travel, given that the USA is twisting arms all over the world for the (perfectly justifiable) goal of throttling money-laundering techniques for the drug trade and organized crime in general.
When you get rid of exit cards, there's no easy place to force people to make an exit declaration.

But since /all/ large cash transactions have to be reported now, partly because the USA is twisting arms all over the world for the (perfectly justifiable) goal of throttling money-laundering techniques for the drug trade and organized crime in general, they've got all that information long before you arrive at the airport.
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Old 04-09-2019, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
I just remember the complete questionnaire I had to fill out two years ago for a simple tourism visit to India. The rules about anything longer than tourist visas to Egypt or Tanzania (to pick 2 other examples) seemed similar. Staying longer implied a lot of red tape.
Plus the problem going to a different country is going to be money -there are a lot less privacy rights from authorities, you can't carry too much money out of the USA without breaking laws, I assume the authorities will want taxes (and hence documentation) for anyone working for enough money to maintain a passable lifestyle... Dealing with a bank will require documentation, and don't think the locals won't notice and gossip if you show up in the village market regularly with foreign currency and nobody has seen you go to the bank. Western history is full of stories of the local thugs deciding that that old miser must have a pile of money hidden in their house, and then torturing him to try to find it. Foreign countries will be the same.

What does it take to be a permanent resident of the Philippines or Thailand? I suppose one of the advantages there is not so much you disappear and nobody has any idea, but you are lost in a maze of chaos (especially if you use a mail drop) and it would be difficult for an American to track you down.
You're overthinking things. TokyoBayer is absolutely right. I'll add my 28 years of expat living to his 30, and say that there are counries wheree, if you are willing to take a few risks and live cheaply, and aren't kept awake at night by worry over getting caught, you stand a good chance of melting into the background for decades.

I know plenty of people who live illegally in Indonesia - they came on a tourist visa, overstayed and by accident or design just ended up never leaving. Sure, the Indonesian authorities are not amused, and there will be fines, blacklisting, and possibly even jail time if they catch you, but foreigners walking down the street almost anywhere are not so remarkable that the authorities will definitely find you. (Sometimes they do, of course, but if you keep your head down your chance of success is pretty high - especially if you have the cash to pay someone off, though you'll probably end up having to do that over and over.) You can illegally teach English and/or have a little shop with your local partner to bring in some cash. Personally I could never stand to live like that, but there are people who find it preferable to whatever awaits them back in their home country.
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  #39  
Old 04-09-2019, 10:29 PM
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I know plenty of people who live illegally in Indonesia - they came on a tourist visa, overstayed and by accident or design just ended up never leaving. Sure, the Indonesian authorities are not amused, and there will be fines, blacklisting, and possibly even jail time if they catch you, but foreigners walking down the street almost anywhere are not so remarkable that the authorities will definitely find you. (Sometimes they do, of course, but if you keep your head down your chance of success is pretty high - especially if you have the cash to pay someone off, though you'll probably end up having to do that over and over.) You can illegally teach English and/or have a little shop with your local partner to bring in some cash. Personally I could never stand to live like that, but there are people who find it preferable to whatever awaits them back in their home country.
For the most part, overstaying visas simply means getting kicked out of the country unless the person is breaking the law in other ways.

The other way is just keeping taking "visa runs," short trips to another country to reset the tourist visa. I've got a friend here in Taiwan who has lived on a tourist visa for over a decade. He goes to HK every three months.

That's perfectly legal, although a bit risky because the country may decide you have been in their country long enough. I know someone in Japan that had that happen to him. He had been in Japan for two years and would take visa runs to Seoul.

In the summer after high school, I worked in a factory for three months making furniture with a bunch of stoners and hard core partiers. Shit job, but it paid for the weed. A lot of the people living in foreign countries off the books were from the same socio-economic class.

Living like a native can be very cheap, and if you are used to not having a lot, it doesn’t really matter if it’s in the States or Bangkok.
  #40  
Old 04-10-2019, 05:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Oh, yes, it's perfectly legal to leave the USA with a valise carrying $1M in small unmarked bills.
I've talked to people in the Caribbean who left the US for good. None of them liquidated and carried cash with them, that'd be ridiculous. The idea, from what I've heard, is to put your money "in the cloud" to borrow a computer concept.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:22 AM
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This is a bit tangential, but in Japan there is an industry that will help people walk away from their lives and become 'Johatsu', i.e. evaporated.

http://time.com/4646293/japan-missin...su-evaporated/
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