Frank Abagnale Jr. was one of the most successful and prolific imposters and bank fraud criminals of our time. Here we will explore the how, why and where of Frank Abagnale Jr.’s crimes and how he finally got caught in his fraudulent activities. We will explore fraud concepts, theories and motives typical of fraudsters. Let’s break down this exciting story.
Frank Abagnale Jr. was by all measures a good kid who loved his family very much. For some reason unbeknownst to us, on the first day of class at Frank Jr’s new school (they were forced from a life of affluence for alleged tax evasion, to a life in a tiny apartment) Frank Jr. committed the crime of identity fraud (impersonator fraud) the first day at his new school. Frank Abagnale Jr.’s motivation appeared to be that he wanted to stop the kids from laughing and yes even assaulting him (a kid slammed him into a locker) as he passed by in his school uniform from his prior school. Thus began Frank Abagnale Jr’s journey into the world of fraudulent acts. One day Frank Abagnale Jr. came home early and found his mother in a compromising situation with a man other than his father. This was the pivotal turning point for Frank Jr. Devastated by his mother’s betrayal Frank Jr. became distant and withdrawn. The point finally comes where Frank Jr.’s parents decide to divorce and when Frank Jr. got home from school one day his parents take Frank Jr. in to a room and tell him he must decide who he wants to live with. Frank Jr. becomes agitated, upset and runs out the door. He never looks back. This is where the story of Frank’s life of crime and notoriety began. First let’s look at Frank Jr.’s life of crime that involved the fraud of identity theft and of being a prolific imposter.
Encyclopedia Britannica (2007) noted that identity theft or impersonator fraud are defined as frauds that are perpetrated by a person who makes a false representation that he is someone he is not in order to fool another for personal gain. Identity theft is a huge problem in today’s society. Impersonator fraud is as well and goes hand and hand with identity theft. Does the age of computers make identity theft easier or harder? While computers make it easier and quicker to access information and may have increased identity theft occurrences, fraud was alive and well long before the advent of the computer age. In fact in some ways it gave the fraudster the ability to carry out ones thefts for an extended period of time before having to move on to the next victim. Back in Frank Abagnale’s heyday the ability to commit identity theft was made easier by the lack of communication across systems and state lines. Also there was the extremely slow process of verifying credentials across municipalities. Since institutions were not electronically linked there were often delays, sometimes very, very long delays in verifying the credentials of an individual. By the time the system caught up with Frank Jr. he was long gone and on to the next job.
Frank Abagnale Jr. was able to commit impersonator fraud and identity theft because of the factors noted above and by using bravado and exuding self confidence. Frank Jr. would study for the part he was going to play and learn enough to successfully pass himself off as a teacher, an airline pilot, and a lawyer and...