Frank Abagnale is known for being one of the most notorious con men in America. He is best known for being a trickster, check forger and impostor. Abagnale’s career as a con man began at the age of 15 when he took advantage of the gas credit card his father gave him. He would use this card to buy car parts at gas stations and then exchange them back to the workers at the gas station for cash. This was just the beginning of a very elaborate and unique life of crime.
The next step in his career was ripping off banks through personal checks. He would open accounts at different banks and keep withdrawing money until the bank would no longer allow him to withdraw any more. Eventually, he started creating false identities to open accounts at different banks. He then shifted to something a little craftier. Abagnale began printing his bank account number on blank bank slip forms and placed them in the bank. These blank slips made it so whenever someone would deposit money it would go into his bank account.
Abagnale then moved to impersonating people, his first impersonation was an airplane pilot. He created a fake employee ID for Pan American World Airways and told Pan Am he lost his pilot uniform. Pan Am sent him a uniform and he flew on over 250 flights to 26 countries for an estimated 1,000,000 miles for free. He was also able to bill his hotel fees to the Pan Am Airways. Abagnale’s next alias was a sociology TA at Brigham Young University for a semester. The main reason for this alias was he was almost caught on a flight, so he decided to lay low as a TA. Next he impersonated a chief resident pediatrician in a Georgia hospital for 11 months. He came to realize working this job was putting people’s lives in danger, so he dropped this alias.
Abagnale’s last alias was as a lawyer at the Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office at the age of 19. He forged a Harvard Law transcript and managed to pass the bar exam, which allowed him to obtain this job. A colleague of his, who actually attended Harvard Law, repeatedly inquired about his law school experience. In fear of being exposed, Abagnale fled to France where he was finally apprehended. When he was apprehended, 12 separate countries demanded Abagnale to be extradited to their country for trial. In France he served a year in a prison where he was placed in a tiny, filthy, lightless cell where he was not given a toilet, mattress, or blanket. After he was released from this prison he was extradited to the States. Here he was sentenced to serve 12 years in a federal prison for multiple counts of forgery. While in prison he attempted escape several times. After less than 5 years, he was released from prison in exchange for helping the US government. He has been working with the FBI for over 35 years helping them fight advanced con men.
Frank Abagnale will be visiting Ohio State on Monday, February 24th at 7:30PM. Tickets are free with a BuckID and available at the Info Desk in the Ohio Union.Charlie Cooper Collaborative Events Committee