One of history’s most notorious impostors is an American security expert named Frank Abagnale Jr. He defrauded numerous individuals between the ages of 15 and 21, forged checks, and assumed many different identities. Frank was raised in a very tumultuous business household and was born and raised in New York. When he was 12 years old, his parents separated, which may have had a significant impact on how he developed into a notorious criminal genius. When Frank was only 15 years old, his father was his first target. Frank defrauded him of more than $3,000 during that time. As a result, he dropped out of school and ultimately began living a life of crime. In his brief tenure as a fraudster, he is thought to have used no less than eight different identities, including those of an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. He was apprehended three times but managed to get away with the first two by deceiving the officials. After serving about five years in prison, he was granted release in 1974 on the understanding that he would assist the “Federal Bureau of Investigation” (FBI) is looking into crimes that were comparable to those he had committed. Since then, he has created his own security company and has been working as a security consultant.
Early Youth & Life
On April 27, 1948, in Bronxville, New York, Frank Abagnale Junior. was born to a wealthy business family consisting of a French mother named Paulette and a Jewish father named Frank Abagnale Sr. While Frank Sr. was serving in the army in Algeria, his parents got acquainted. When Paulette and Frank first met, she was in her teens. After the war, they got married and moved back to New York. He then launched his own company, which became very successful very rapidly.
Frank Jr. was the third of the family’s four kids. Contrary to popular belief, Frank subsequently claimed that he had a very stable childhood and was close to his father. Frank Jr. frequently traveled with Frank Sr. when he developed a keen interest in neighborhood affairs.
Before everything turned upside down, the Abagnale children had a good existence. Frank’s mother desired a divorce because she was unhappy with his father and their financial situation. The contented family was on the brink of disintegrating. His father was devastated when the divorce was eventually finalized. In this hour of need, Frank remained by his side the entire time. Frank began showing interest in his father’s financial dealings as well. This was the period when he first became familiar with white-collar business dealings.
Frank’s father frequently expressed his admiration for his intelligence. But it’s possible that Frank Sr. never thought he’d be his son’s first casualty. When he was 15 years old, Frank Jr. bought auto parts with his father’s gas credit card and later sold them. His father owed $3,400 as a result of this misconduct. When the credit card statement came, Frank Jr. was discovered and beaten by his father. Frank fled home when he was 16 years old.
The Life of Crime
Frank had very little money in his bank account when he departed his house. His earnings from part-time employment made up the majority of his bank balance. He did not have enough money to support his way of living, though. He also did not receive any formal education, which made it challenging for him to obtain a better-paying job. Despite engaging in theft, he escaped detection. He chose to target banks because this gave him the confidence to commit larger frauds.
He used confidence tricks, and on his overdrawn accounts, he penned numerous personal checks to banks. To continue his tricks, he adopted numerous new identities and established numerous new accounts. He also took several hundred dollars from the banks and magnetically printed his account number on bank deposit slips. He fled into seclusion as soon as he realized he would not be able to continue this fraud for very long. However, he did not do this before saving up enough cash to last him for a few years.
He stole money from airlines and car rental businesses using cunning methods like posing as a security guard. He once posted a notice that the payment drop box was “out of order” and asked people to give their money to the on-duty security instead. He then took the cash, pretended to be a security, and vanished without being discovered.
Frank made the decision to eventually fulfill his lifelong dream of world travel once he had amassed sufficient funds. He quickly devised a method by which he could traverse the globe without spending a single penny. He made a call to the “Pan Am” management and informed them of his loss of uniform and status as a pilot. He obtained a new uniform and presented a fake pilot’s license. He avoided entering the cockpits of “Pan Am” though, as he was aware that he would ultimately come to light.
On the company’s dime, he used flights and booked expensive lodgings. He once was asked to assume control of flying a plane, but because he had no idea how to do it, he put the flight on auto-pilot. He returned to the US and pretended to be a doctor for 11 months in a Georgia hospital after tiring of this ruse. He soon came to the conclusion that his dearth of industry knowledge might endanger lives. He quickly left the hospital as a result.
His next objective was “Harvard University’s” law school. He presented forged documents claiming to be a graduate of the school. He put in two weeks of intense study time and succeeded on the bar test. Later, he succeeded in landing a position at the Louisiana State Attorney General’s office.
He had just turned 19 years old. One of his coworkers was from “Cambridge,” and when he inquired about Frank’s time spent there, Frank was unable to respond. Frank instantly resigned from his position after sensing that his lies would soon come to light.
Capture and Detention
When Frank was identified by one of his ex-girlfriends in 1969, he was living a comfortable life in Montrichard, France. He was sought after by 12 different governments when the French police found him, and he was eventually extradited. He was imprisoned in several nations. He was given a 12-year sentence in a US federal prison after the US requested his extradition while he was being tried in Sweden.
He managed to escape the police twice, but he was finally apprehended and imprisoned in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1971. When the authorities made him a deal to assist them with fraud cases, which were at an all-time high in the US, he spent less than five years in prison before being freed.
Frank’s Following Years
Kelly Anne and Frank Abagnale first connected when he was employed by the “FBI.” They shortly got hitched and now reside in Charleston, South Carolina. Sean, Chris, and Scott are their three boys. Frank’s life served as the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s highly acclaimed movie “Catch Me If You Can.”
The film also enjoyed tremendous financial success. Leonardo DiCaprio played the part of Frank in the movie.
Frank maintained a close friendship with Joseph Shea, the “FBI” agent who was instrumental in bringing Frank to justice, for a very long period.
Estimated Net Worth
An American security expert with a $10 million fortune is Frank Abagnale. He rose to fame as one of the most notorious impostors ever due to his past as a check forger and impostor. He claimed to have taken on no less than eight aliases during this time.