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In mysteries and thrillers, villains often track down the heroes (or at least try to) using social engineering--pretending to be people with a legitimate need to know the information.

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Examples of Villains Use Social Engineering to Hunt Heroes include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Rising of the Shield Hero, Naofumi is faced with false accusations from his former party member and princess of the kingdom which then leads to him being a pariah and becoming jaded towards the world he has been transported to.


  • In Tony Hillerman's People of Darkness, the hit man Colton Wolf tracks down hero-cop Jim Chee by first looking through newspaper files, pretending to be an academic researcher, and then uses the information he gains that way--a Navajo Police officer's name--to pretend to be a Navajo cop on the radio with the Navajo Tribal Police.
  • In Meg Gardiner's The Shadow Tracer, the villains track the hero's activities by calling her credit card agency, pretending that her credit card is really their credit card that got stolen, so they can find out all the transactions the hero has made.
  • Nonfiction example: In Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker, Kevin Mitnick says, "Every city I went to, I'd compromise their telecommunications infrastructure, so I could keep track of them trying to track me." He did some of that with methods like calling up people in the organizations he was spying on, pretending to be someone working for a different section of the organization, or tech support or such, who needed to know a password or something. (Whether Mitnick qualifies as a "villain" is debatable.)