Former conman helps others avoid fraud

Former conman and subject of Steven Spielberg's 'Catch Me If You Can' Frank Abagnale talks...
Former conman and subject of Steven Spielberg's 'Catch Me If You Can' Frank Abagnale talks about how to avoid scams. (KTUU)
Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 10:18 PM AKDT
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The subject of Steven Spielberg's 'Catch Me If You Can,' Frank Abagnale, spent years scamming people all around the world. Now, he works for the FBI as an advisor on fraud. He was in Anchorage Thursday night and we actually did manage to catch up with him.

He says that while the medium may change, the main idea behind scams doesn't.

“All of these scams have been around now for 50, 60 years, they're just changed with technology," Abagnale says.

When Abagnale was a con man, scams were done over the phone, or face to face.

“Even then, it was an emotional involvement, so the scam artist had some kind of conscience,” Abagnale says. “That at some point he... may have said, 'you know I'm not gonna take this old man for all his money."

But as he told crowds at the Wendy Williamson auditorium, the stakes are now higher than ever.

“The difference today is the scam artist is someone in their pajamas, with a cup of coffee, on their laptop, in Moscow,” Abagnale says. “They will never see you, you will never see them. There is no emotion involved whatsoever, and certainly there is no conscience involved, so they will take you for every dime you have."

So how can you avoid being scammed? Abagnale says there are two things to watch out for.

“The first red flag is I'm going to ask you for money, but you have to give it to me immediately,” he says. “Give me your credit card over the phone, give me your bank account number so I can wire the money out of your account… the other red flag is that at some point I'm gonna ask you for information."

He says if you think you're being scammed, the best thing to do is contact whoever the scammer claims to be.

“So before you ever part with any money, or you part with any information, you have to make sure you know who's on the other end."

He also says that getting scammed can be embarrassing, but it’s important to report those scams so that authorities and try to stop them from happening again.

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