For more than four decades, Frank Abagnale has been advising the FBI on how to outsmart con artists.
He is, after all, an expert on the subject.
Between the ages of 16 and 21, Abagnale successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, and a doctor and thus cashed millions of dollars in fraudulent checks. He, of course, was caught, and his exploits were depicted in 2002 by Leonardo DiCaprio in a Steven Spielberg film, Catch Me If You Can.
Today, Abagnale is an expert on identity theft and serves as a consultant to some of the largest companies in the world on the subject of cybercrime. AARP Pennsylvania recently hosted Abagnale at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, where he discussed how to spot and avoid scams.
His invaluable advice reinforced how helpful the AARP Fraud Watch Network can be. As one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery, embezzlement, and secure documents, Abagnale has joined forces with the AARP Fraud Watch Network and AARP Pennsylvania.
“This is my fifth year of putting on these programs with AARP, and we’ve been to 43 states,” he said. “We’re pleased that people want to get educated about protecting their families, protecting themselves.”
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. Its Fraud Watch Network offers tips to spot and avoid scams – like identity theft, investment fraud, and holiday scams – as well as ongoing updates from resources like Watchdog Alerts and a scam-tracking map that provides real-time alerts from law enforcement.
“The con in con artist stands for confidence, and 30-40 years ago, they were well-dressed, well-spoken, and very likable,” said Abagnale. “They were able to win people over. But they had to deal with you, one on one. They had to have a relationship with you, and because of that, there was some conscience, some compassion that came into it. Back then, the con artist may not have taken an old man for all of his money, just half of it.
“Today, you’re dealing with someone who’s sitting in their pajamas with a laptop and a cup of coffee in their kitchen in Moscow. They will never see you. You will never see them. There’s no relationship with the victim, and consequently, there’s no compassion, and they’ll steal everything you have.”
Click here to sign up for free Watchdog Alerts or to learn more about the AARP Fraud Watch Network.