Private Investigations and Personal Security/fake names


In the story I am writing, I want the client of the PI to be given a fake name by someone conning her. The PI concludes that the name given must be fake,that there is no one on record with that name. How would the PI draw this conclusion?

I saw the type of questions you have answered, and this seems like a good one for you.

This is a bit outside my expertise, but I'll try to answer anyway.  It is probably impossible to prove that a particular name is fake, because parents do name their kids the darndest things.  You can probably Google some good examples of very unusual names.  But for your story, you could have the PI google that name, since most people now have some online existence.  That doesn't work if your story is set before the Internet. If you character also says where he/she is from, and their age is known, the PI could check local birth record usually published in local papers.  The PI could also check census records for families with that last name in that location.  An absence of census records could be a tipoff that the name is fake.  You might try talking to a public librarian about how to use the census data, and maybe even how to check whether a family is fake, given a name. I hope this helps.  Good luck with your story.

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Lyn Bates


Are you being stalked? I can help evaluate the amount of danger you are in, and can provide very specific suggestions for increasing your safety, and for managing your situation. As a founding member and the current Vice President of AWARE (a volunteer, nonprofit organization), I have helped thousands of women learn to protect themselves from crimes ranging from minor harassment to serious assault. I am currently writing a book on safety for stalking victims. I have lectured at annual training meetings of the American Society of Law Enforcement Training, Women in Federal Law Enforcement, the International Women Police Association, the American Society of Criminology, and the American Women`s Self-Defense Association. In 1997, the American Tactical Shooting Association gave me their annual Tactical Advocate Award for teaching and writing.

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