Thursday night, New Mexicans got a lesson in outsmarting scammers — and who better to learn from than a man who knows all the tricks.
The real-life con-artist the movie “Catch Me If You Can” is based on is in Albuquerque with some tips.
In the 2002 movie, “Catch Me If You Can,” Leonardo DiCaprio successfully poses as a pilot, doctor and attorney, and cashes millions in fake checks.
It’s based on the true life of Frank Abagnale.
“It was everything I fell into because I happened to be in the right place at the right time or got the idea at the right time,” Abagnale said.
He knew all the tricks when he was just 16 years old, and fooled FBI agents for years.
“I know that people think I did some amazing things from 16 to 21, but then I went to prison from 21 to 26, but what was most amazing is that when I came out of prison and what I’ve done the last 42 years,” Abagnale said.
The FBI realized they could learn a lot from Abagnale.
He’s now worked for them for four decades, helping develop more secure passports and birth certificates, and developing technology for fraud detection.
“But it’s just a testament to what a great country we live in that you can make mistakes and you can get up and change your life and you can redeem yourself,” Abagnale said.
Thursday night, he was at the Hispanic Cultural Center, working with the AARP to give tips to New Mexicans.
He says con-artists posing as the IRS is the most popular con going around right now.
“There are really just two red flags and the red flag one is, I need you to send money, or two, I need you to tell me some information such as social security number, date of birth,” Abagnale said.
He says what he pulled off 50 years ago would have been 1,000 times easier to pull off today.
“I didn’t have all the technology that exists today,” he said.
Abagnale has taught two generations of FBI agents, including his own son who went through the academy 12 years ago.