Oct 16, 2015 3:51 PM
CONCORD – If you’ve seen the movie “Catch Me if You Can,” then you might know it’s based on the five-year crime spree of a man named Frank Abagnale, who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 hit by Paramount Motion Pictures.
On the lam between the ages of 16 through 21, Abagnale seemed to always be one step ahead of the FBI.
“I wrote about two and a half million dollars in bad checks in about 26 different countries,” says Abagnale, as we spoke with him one-on-one at the AARP offices in Concord.
The FBI eventually nabbed him in France at the age of 21 and sent him to prison.
That’s when they realized they could use his criminal mind to help everyone from the feds, big business and the general public.
When asked how he tricked people into thinking he was a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, Abagnale says his young age played a role.
“It just started out as survival and then eventually people were chasing me, and it was how do I stay one step ahead of the people chasing me and eventually towards the end, I always knew I was going to get caught.”
For the last 40 years after being plucked from prison, Abagnale has been a security consultant to the FBI.
As times evolved, so has he - from the early days of counterfeiting and forgery to the massive amounts of cybercrime today.
“Because the criminal has realized where all the money is is with the government and who has the least amount of security?” he says. “The government.”
Recently, we found him at the Lebanon Opera House telling the crowd how to avoid scams and ways to protect themselves from fraud.
When asked why he does it, he says, “I get a great satisfaction of educating people.”
Abagnale then went on to say, “And that is why education is the most powerful tool we have to fight these types of crimes.”
So does Abagnale have any regrets?
“Lots of regrets,” he says. “And this is me paying my debt back to my country.”
One of Abagnale’s tips?
If you’re on Facebook and you use your actual face as your picture and post your birthday and your hometown, you could be waiting for a thief to steal your identity.
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