CHICAGO (CBS) — The CBS 2 Morning Insiders jumped at the chance for an exclusive interview with a former con artist.
Frank Abagnale is so famous that Leonardo DiCaprio played him on the big screen in “Catch Me If You Can.” CBS 2’s Lauren Victory tested Abagnale with some real-life scams.
Hundreds wanted to see Abagnale as he came to answer questions on stage recently. Some came out of curiosity, others out of concern over growing problems with fraud.
Fifty years ago, the proud grandfather conned his way onto planes, into emergency rooms, and in front of judges. And then he went to prison.
“The technology today that exists makes it so much easier to commit these crimes,” Abagnale said.
Now, you can catch Abagnale answering scam questions for the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network – over the phone, onstage, and on the fly.
CBS 2’s Victory dove with Abagnale into some real-life worries from victims or would-be victims around Chicagoland.
Victory (reading a submitted question): “What do I do to make sure nothing happens to me if they stole my information?”
Abagnale: “The best thing you can do today is to freeze your credit.”
Abagnale was especially passionate about a situation from Englewood involving a debit card, because he said they offer easy access to your cash instead of the credit card company’s money.
“I do not own a debit card. I have three sons, I never allowed them to have one,” he said. “I only use a credit card. A credit card – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card – are the safest tool that exist on the face of the earth.”
It’s a bold statement – and it’s not his only one. The former conman also claims it’s 4,000 times simpler for scammers now than in his days covered by the movie.
Victory: “Is that a number you created from somewhere?”
Abagnale: “That’s my number, because I wake up every day and realize how much easier it is than when I did it. I only had the phone. Today, there are so many forms of communication that didn’t exist when I was doing these things – so had they existed, I would’ve made a lot more money and gotten a lot farther than I’d gotten.”
Thankfully, the FBI caught Abagnale so he could share his bad secrets for good.
Abagnale’s Chicago visit is part of a five-year scam prevention and education effort across the country.