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We’re in the Golden Age of Scamming

October 11, 2019

[Photo: Frank Abagnale]


by Howard Haykin


Consultant Frank Abagnale achieved fame and notoriety from the movie, Catch Me If You Can, which starred Leonard DiCaprio. The 2002 movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, was based on Abagnale’s memoir of his time as a teenage con man in the 1960s. As you may recall, the movie ended with Abagnale's arrest by an FBI agent (played by Tom Hanks), his serving 5 years in prison, and then his becoming a security consultant for the U.S. government.


Mr. Abagnale has a new book - ”Scam Me If You Can” - and during his publicity tour he stopped by to publicize the book and to discuss scams of all shapes and sizes. While Mr. Abagnale readily admitted that people are fascinated by, and the news services tend to report on, ‘headline scams’ by such people as Elizabeth Holmes (of Theranos) and Bill McFarland (who organized Fyre Festival), the vast majority of people get scammed through ordinary, everyday types of events - robocalls, IRS fraud and stolen passwords. All told, Americans lost at least $16.8 billion to scams in 2017.



During his conversation with, Mr. Abagnale covered a number of topics, including ...:

  • Kinds of scams that have exploded in the era of social media and smartphones.
  • Whether he's ever been scammed.
  • Why and how he'd replace passwords, which have become irrelevant.
  • Various ways people have made themselves vulnerable to scam artists.



Click on ... for a summary of the interview and for a link to Mr. Abagnale’s book, "Scam Me If You Can” that features cautionary tales of scams - like catfished single people, social media identity theft, and fraudulent GoFundMe pages - that swindled money and personal information from victims.