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The Rossum Corporation contracts people to be Dolls/Actives in one of their Dollhouses for five years. At the end of the contract,

they are paid a large sum of money and certain memories are erased from their original personality profiles. For the Doll/Active, no time has passed in their mind over the years.

We are explicitly shown that

Madeline/Mellie/November sets up in an apartment nearby. Anthony/Victor is sent to a hotel for the night before returning to his life.

Some of the Dolls/Actives must have had someone notice they were missing in the five years they were gone.

Caroline/Echo even runs into an old teacher in the episode "Echoes".

Is it ever explained what, if any, sort of cover story Rossum provides either during or after the employment to explain the person's absence?

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I think the dolls were chosen because they fit the profile of people that others would not come looking for them. – Mark Rogers Dec 4 '12 at 14:09
Not necessarily. Caroline was essentially blackmailed into it. She was still in school and had a circle of friends. And just because no one would actively go looking for them, it doesn't mean they don't need some sort of story to explain their absence. – phantom42 Dec 4 '12 at 14:15
valid points, but I think they preferred vulnerable targets. Yes they shanghaied people into it, but it seems implied that they preferred dolls who wouldn't give them trouble if there wasn't any money in it. The place to look would be the English lady's speech she gives Echo at one point after she was caught in the act of sabotage. The thing is, I don't remember them specifically giving the dolls a 5 year cover story. – Mark Rogers Dec 4 '12 at 14:18
@MarkRogers, even if nobody missed them while they were gone, how do they reconcile "no time has passed in my mind" with "hey, it's suddenly 5 years later!"? – Martha Dec 4 '12 at 14:58
@Martha, the Doll/Active is made aware of the time discrepancy both before and after their service. They're left a little confused at just how instantaneous it feels (this is shown a few times), but they're not left to discover this fact on their own or anything. – phantom42 Dec 4 '12 at 15:07

As the 'large sum' would have to be large enough for them to set up a new life and still have plenty left over to keep them in their new life I think that the point is largely moot. Lottery winners who leave their old jobs and move into new houses don't need an explanation so it is likely that the ex-dolls are in a similar situation, they don't have to work so no one is going to ask them many questions. In that situation a simple cover story would suffice: 'I won the lottery and quit my job'.

How much would anyone value five (risky) years of their life when they are at their physical peak? Surely thats a sum no less than a million? Probably several million.

To address the other way of reading the question, as in how do they explain the absence while it is going on, then again there is little need for anything other than a simple explanation like 'I moved abroad for a while' or 'I moved to [insert city name here]'. People in real life move away without informing even their close friends so this is not unusual behaviour.

As the cover story can be relatively simple there is no need to belabour the point in the show and thus it is not covered in 'canon' as it would not make for sufficiently interesting TV.

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This answer doesn't directly answer the question. The Asker's not asking how ex-dolls explain their servitude afterwards, but how does Rossum cover for dolls while they are dolls? What cover story do they tell people who ask what happened to their loved one? I believe the answer is they never really discussed a cover story for the dolls on screen. – Mark Rogers Dec 4 '12 at 21:16
Then the OP should edit out the use of the word 'former' from the title of the question as currently it can be interpreted either way. – user8416 Dec 5 '12 at 8:19
yeah your right, after re-reading the title I can see why you would feel that way. – Mark Rogers Dec 5 '12 at 13:48
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It doesn't appear that Rossum goes to any particular lengths to cover the active's disappearance during the contract, but they at least sometimes set up a cover story to be used after the contract ends.

In the case of November, no mention of a cover story was made, but Victor was provided a cover story with appropriate paperwork.

From Stop-Loss (S02E09)

BOYD: We've set up a trust fund in your name. Reserved a suite at the Hyperion until you find something more permanent. Found several employment opportunities should you choose to work. If people ask, you spent the last five years at a VA hospital as part of an experimental program that treats veterans for post-traumatic stress. We've created a paper trail to verify your story.

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