¶ … Successful (for a Time) Young Con: Frank Abagnale, Jr.
Frank Abagnale, Jr., is one of America's most beloved con men -- not only because he managed to go undetected in so many professions for a considerable length of time but also because he did so at such an early age when he was practically still a boy. For this reason, it may be more appropriate to suggest that Abagnale is America's favorite con child -- what with a successful film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks and a Broadway play based on his exploits. Perhaps the biggest reason for his popularity is that after his arrest and conviction, Abagnale went "straight" and began acting as a consultant for the very banks he had helped to defraud as a young man in his teens and very early twenties. This paper will discuss Abagnale's criminal and non-criminal career, provide a limited statistical analysis (the reason that it is limited shall be explained), and compare his real life to the events depicted in the film Catch Me if You Can (2002).
Abagnale's career as a con began when he was 15 -- and his first victim was his own father, who had lent him his credit card, which Abagnale used to purchase items and...
From there, Abagnale moved on to taking advantage of banks and their inexperience with fraudsters such as himself. He would fake checks, deposit them, then ask for a pay advance based on the deposits. He was savvy enough to know that such tricks could not be used long before he would be exposed, so he traveled quite a bit. One way he was able to travel was that he impersonated an airline pilot for Pan Am. It is estimated that Abagnale logged over 1 million air miles, flying as a "deadhead" (a pilot who is traveling rather than actually flying).
Abagnale has stated that he posed as a teacher at BYU, a lawyer in Louisiana, and a doctor in Georgia. Some have questioned the legitimacy of all of Abagnale's claims, stating that there appears to be no corroboratory evidence -- but Abagnale responds by suggesting that no one wants to corroborate his tale because it would only embarrass them to admit that they were conned by a boy (Baker, 2003). Yet, for this reason, it is difficult to determine just…
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