I just saw one of the greatest talking presentations of my life. And it came from none other than “Mr. Catch Me If You Can” himself, Frank William Abagnale. Yeah the guy from the movie Catch Me If You Can. This event took place at The Smith Center, inside Reynolds Hall. We were supposed to be seated in the top balcony, but we were upgraded to THE FRONT ROW, OF THE ORCHESTRA SEATING, DEAD CENTER OF STAGE. I could see into the whites of Frank’s eyes. Yeah, I call him Frank now. I’ll explain why in a bit.
Frank opened up the presentation by thanking the crowd. He began to speak about how he is hired to talk to people about bank security and financial planning. He then stated that tonight’s presentation would be about his real life experiences and tell us the REAL TALE of how he pulled off one of the most creative scams of all time. Now, like you, I have watched the movies and read a few books about the man himself. He did say that he HAD NOTHING TO DO with the production of the movie. That was due to his affiliation with the FBI. But they did have help from people that worked with and against Frank during his crimes. But he began to tell us his story. In that story he mentioned that at the age of 16, he was in a court room deciding on which parent he was to live with as they were getting a divorce. He looked at his parents. He ran out the door and that was the last time he ever laid eyes on his father. Unlike the movie where his father is in and out of his life. He described his father as a wonderful man that had every ounce of courage to tell his kids he loved them every chance that he could.
From there, Frank told us about how he faked his way into becoming a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. He told us the story of how he was living and that he failed many times before he became successfully rich. Illegally, successfully rich I might add. It was an amazing story of how he paid attention to the way people presented themselves and he adapted. He mentioned many ways of how he found loop holes and exploited them to the fullest extent. One story was of how Frank would cash a check at each counter of every airline inside the Kennedy Airport in New York, NY. After 8 hours of work, the staff changed and he went at cashing checks again. I think my favorite tale of the evening was when he described a conversation he had with pilots of another airline.
The Pilot and Co-Pilot asked him what kind of equipment he flew on, and after saying the wrong thing once, he left and figured things out from there. After telling his story, the room opened up for a Q & A Session. This is where I got to ask Frank a question. Bringing us to the reason of why I can call him Frank. If you know me, and my speaking abilities, you know that when ever I ask a question in a large group of people, I lead off with “Hello, Long time listener, first time caller”. That was when the entire Reynolds hall burst into laughter. I followed that with a simple question. “Frank, did you ever worry about being caught in the middle of a flight and hoping that you were close enough to your destination so that you wouldn’t have to sit on a plane for the next 8 hours wondering how they found you out?” So right there, I called him Frank, we became friends. OK, that’s far fetched. I get it. He then explained to myself, and the audience, that he was young and always knew he would get caught. Any idiot that thinks they wont get caught is truly an idiot. So he was not worried about that. The best thing to do was to act like you belong somewhere and hope for the best. He looked older for his age. People thought he was who he said he was and how old he pretended to be. Truly amazing story.
Then Frank proceeded with telling us a few tips of his own to protect yourself online and in person. This was the best think that I have ever heard. He said that you should never use a debit card. If you use a debit card, you are exposing your self, and your money. You should always use a Credit card. That way the risk is on VISA, not you. HOLY EFF was that smart. Single Handily The Best Advice I’ll Ever Get.
So my night kicked some serious butt, and I will never forget the night I asked Frank William Abagnale a question, while hearing the same man speak about his life. So now here is a few pictures to go with the event. Frank, If You Ever Read This. Thank You Sir For A Wonderful Evening.