Frank Abagnale Jr: one of the greatest con men in history, who went on to become a great man.
Frank was a teenaged high school dropout and an incredible imposter. Some of his most impressive feats include fraudulently working as a Pan Am pilot (clocking up millions of air miles while traveling around the world), as a paediatrician in Atlanta, working as a professor at the prestigious Brigham Young University, and as an assistant attorney general for the state of Louisiana (passing the state bar exam beforehand). He had a gifted, artistic ability at making false cheques, ID cards and other legal documents. His altered cheques made him approximately $2.5 million while he was still a teenager. They also made him a most wanted man. After a long and dedicated chase by the FBI, Frank Abagnale Jr was finally caught in Montpellier, France when he was still only 20 years old.
Like many con men, Frank Abagnale Jr was charismatic and gifted. However, unlike many other con men- he eventually chose to use his charisma and talents solely for good.
Today, Frank is a motivational speaker and continues to do pro bono work for the FBI. He advises on fraud prevention, identity theft, and document security products. He is loved and respected by his FBI colleagues. His gifts at spotting security loopholes have not faded…here is an example from a while ago:
A client asked Frank to try out a new ATM prototype. After a quick glance, Frank was able to spot a flaw…the ATM machine had a door that electronically opened for users to retrieve their cash. Frank simply took Super Glue, glued the door shut, then sat back and watched as several ATM users inserted their card, entered their PIN number, and waited for their cash. When the door failed to open, they assumed the machine was out-of-order and moved to the next machine. After they left, Frank walked up, broke through the glue, and there was the cash – which is why ATM machines today use open slots for cash delivery, not doors.
Frank Abagnale Jr’s incredible story was eventually turned into a highly successful film by Steven Spielberg, starring Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. The film is called “Catch Me If You Can” and was the inspiration behind the name of my blog.