Monday, May 27, 2013

Frank Abagnale, Jr.: The Real Story Behind CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

Catch Me If You Can stars Merritt David Janes, left, and Stephen Anthony,
right, meet Frank Abagnale, Jr.
Frank Abagnale, Jr. is an expert on fraud, scams, deception and beating the system. Between the ages of 16 and 21, he forged and cashed $2.5 million worth of bad checks in the United States and 26 other countries, while successfully passing himself off as an airline pilot for Pan Am, a doctor, a college professor and a lawyer. He was ultimately caught, as he always knew he would be, and served time in French, Swedish and American prisons.  

The Catch Me If You Can tour company. © Carol Rosegg

Abagnale’s life on the lam is the most entertaining part of his story – but it’s not the best part. Since leaving his life of crime, he has used his knowledge as a counterfeiter and scam artist to stop criminals and protect law-abiding citizens, initially working with the FBI – which was part of his parole agreement – and then by developing a host of fraud prevention programs that are used by more than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies.

Abagnale works with the FBI to this day, and became lifelong friends with the agent who relentlessly pursued him, Joseph Shea – known as Carl Hanratty in the movie and the musical – who died in 2005. He has his own business, Abagnale & Associates, a security consulting firm, and is considered to be a leading authority in the field. He is a dynamic, much sought-after lecturer, and a self-made millionaire – legitimately. 

The Catch Me If You Can tour company. © Carol Rosegg
He lives with his past every day, and, although three presidents have offered to pardon him, he has turned them down. “I truly believe that a piece of paper cannot excuse my actions. I don’t think it works that way. I made some mistakes in my life and I have to live with them. I know people are fascinated by what I did between the ages of 16 and 21. But what amazes me is where my life went when I came out of prison. I try to do the right thing, and I hope that in the end I’ll be judged for that.”

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