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White-Collar Crime

Frank W. Abagnale

Frank Abagnale (1948–) has seen the criminal justice system from both sides—first as a master con (to deceive someone after gaining their confidence) and fraud (to trick someone) artist and later as an expert adviser on fraud prevention. Abagnale was raised in New York and enjoyed a comfortable upbringing. His father owned a profitable stationary store on Madison Avenue in New York City. However at sixteen years of age when his parents suddenly divorced, Frank moved into the city and began a life of sophisticated crime. For the next five years Abagnale developed numerous scams ranging from fraud such as passing bad checks to impersonating various professionals. The diverse impersonations included airline pilots for Pan Am and Trans World Airlines (TWA), a lawyer working in the Louisiana state attorney general office, a pediatrician (children's doctor) in a Georgia hospital, and a sociology professor at Brigham Young University in Utah. In five years he used eight different identities and passed bad checks in twenty-six countries amounting to over $2.5 million. He was eventually arrested in Mont-pellier, France, in 1969 while posing as a Hollywood screenwriter. Abagnale served six months in a notoriously harsh French prison and several more months in a Swedish prison before being extradited (transferred) to the United States. After briefly escaping twice from U.S. authorities, he was found guilty of numerous charges of forgery (making false documents) and sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Abagnale's life took a sudden turn while serving his sentence in a federal corrections facility in Virginia. At twenty-six years of age after only four years of confinement in the federal facility, he was released in 1974 under the condition that he assist at no pay federal law authorities in crime prevention programs to stop frauds and scams. He could teach well on the workings of a criminal mind from his firsthand experiences. Abagnale also established a successful consulting firm, Abagnale and Associates, to advise private businesses such as banks on how to design secure checks. Abagnale also went on extensive lecture tours giving advice on white-collar crime prevention. Abagnale has written numerous articles and books including Catch Me If You Can (1980), which was made into a 2002 Hollywood movie directed by Steven Spielberg, and The Art of the Steal: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business From Fraud—America's #1 Crime (2001).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawWhite-Collar Crime - Healthcare Fraud, Government Fraud, Financial Institution Fraud, Frank W. Abagnale, Telemarketing Fraud