Frank William Abagnale, Jr. (born April 27, 1948) is an American security consultant, and former check confidence trickster, forger and impostor. He became infamous in the 1960s for passing bad checks worth about $2.5 million in 26 countries over the course of 5 years. During this time, he used at least eight aliases to cash bad checks.
Abagnale’s life story provided the inspiration for the feature film Catch Me if You Can, based on his ghostwritten biography of the same name. As of 2009 he runs Abagnale and Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.
Abagnale was born the 3rd of four children and spent the first sixteen years of his life in New York’s Bronxville. His mother and father divorced when he was 12, and afterwards he would be the only child of whom his father would gain custody. His father did not necessarily want him, but in order to reunite his family he would attempt to win his mother back until his death in 1974. His father was also an affluent local business man who was very keen on politics, and was a major role model for Abagnale Jr.
His first victim was his father.
His father gave him a 1952 Ford truck, and once Frank Jr began to take a notice of girls, he could not stop spending money on them. In order to fund his exploits with the opposite sex, he asked his father for a credit card to charge gas on, since he was always short on cash. He began to make deals with gas station employees all around the New York area to falsely charge items to his card, then give him a portion of the money; in return the employee got to keep the item and “resell” it for the full price. Over the course of 2 months, Frank Jr “bought” the following items for his vehicle:
* 14 sets of tires
* 22 batteries
* large quantities of gasoline
The bill totaled up to $3,400, which his father discovered only after a debt collector contacted him in person, as Frank Jr was throwing away the bills that came in the mail. When confronting his son, Frank Sr wasn’t so worried about the expenses he’d accumulated, but rather that his son replied, “It’s the girls dad, they do funny things to me. I can’t explain it.” This libido and greed-tainted response set the tone of his life until his imprisonment.
Abagnale’s first confidence trick was writing personal checks on his own overdrawn account, an activity which he discovered was possible when he wrote checks for more money than was in the account. This, however, would only work for a limited time before the bank demanded payment, so he moved on to opening other accounts in different banks, eventually creating new identities to sustain this charade. Over time, he experimented and developed different ways of defrauding banks, such as printing out his own almost-perfect copies of checks, depositing them and persuading banks to advance him cash on the basis of money in his accounts. The money, of course, never materialized as the checks deposited in it were rejected.
One of Abagnale’s famous tricks was to print his account number on blank deposit slips and add them to the stack of real blank slips in the bank. This meant that the deposits written on those slips by bank customers ended up going into his account rather than that of the legitimate customers. He took in over $40,000 by this method before he was discovered. By the time the bank began looking into his case, Abagnale had collected all the money and had already changed his identity.
11-02-2009 at 12:43 PM