Frank Abagnale: “Catch Me If You Can” | Talks at Google

Frank Abagnale: “Catch Me If You Can” | Talks at Google


[MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] FRANK ABAGNALE: Good morning. It’s a pleasure to
be here this morning. I’m gonna ask your
indulgence on two things. It’s allergy season, so
I have a real hard time during this time of
the year speaking. And two, most of the speaking I
do when I walk up to the podium is very technical. It deals with cyber crime
and identity theft, forgery, embezzlements, and
things of that nature. I don’t often talk
about my life. But Google has asked me today
to do something different and talk a little
bit about my life. So I will do that. And then at the end, of
course, I’ll take questions. And those questions can be
about any subject matter that you like to ask. As you know, I’ve had a lot
of people tell my story. I had a great movie director
write a film about my life. I had a great Broadway musical
team make a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about my life. Had a popular
television show on TV, “White Collar,” for four
years created around my life. And most of those
very creative people have actually never
met me personally. But they’ve enjoyed telling my
story from their point of view. So I thought I would take
a few minutes this morning and actually tell you the
story from my point of view. I was raised just north of
New York City in Westchester County, New York. I was actually one
of four children in the family, the so-called
middle child of the four. I was educated there by the
Christian Brothers of Ireland in a private Catholic
school called Iona where I went to school from
kindergarten to high school. By the time I had reached the
age of 16, in the 10th grade, my parents after 22
years of marriage one day decided to get a divorce. Unlike most divorces where
the children were usually the first to know,
my parents were very good about
keeping that a secret. I remember being in the 10th
grade when the father walked in the classroom one
afternoon, asked a brother to excuse me from class. When I came out in the hallway,
the father handed me my books and told me that
one of the brothers would drive me to
the county seat in White Plains, New York
where I would meet my parents, and they would explain
what was going on. I remember the brother dropped
me at the steps of a big stone building and told me
to go on up the steps where my parents would be
waiting for me in the lobby. I remember climbing the steps,
seeing a sign on the building that said “Family Court.” But I really didn’t
understand what that meant. When I arrived in the lobby,
my parents were not there. But I was ushered into the
back of an immense courtroom where my parents were
standing before a judge. I couldn’t hear what the judge
was saying, nor my parents’ response. But eventually, the judge saw
me at the back of the room and motioned me to
approach the bench. So I walked up the stand
in between my parents. I remember distinctly that
the judge never looked at me. He never acknowledged
I was standing there. He simply read from his papers
and said that my parents were getting a divorce. And because I was
16 years of age, I would need to
tell the court which parent I chose to live with. I started to cry. So I turned and ran
out of the courtroom. Judge called for a
10-minute recess. But by the time my parents
got outside, I was gone. My mother never saw me again
for about seven years until I was a young adult.
Contrary to the movie, my father never saw me or
ever spoke to me again. In the mid-1960s, running
away was a very popular thing for young people. A lot of them got caught up
in Haight-Ashbury, the hippie scene, the drug scene. Instead, I took a few
belongings from my home, packed them in a bag, boarded
what was then the New Haven and Hartford railroad
for the short train ride down to Grand Central
Terminal in New York. My father did own a
stationary store in Manhattan. It was located on the
corner of 40th and Madison. Like all of us, we had
to work in that store. So from the time I was
about 13, I made deliveries my dad in the summer on a bike. I knew the city very well. So naturally, I started looking
for the same type of work. There were a lot of signs
on the windows– stock boy, delivery boy, part time. I’d walk in and apply. So tell me, young
man, how old are you? Uh, 16. How far did you
go in high school? Uh, 10th grade. I’ll hire you. I went to work for a
small amount of money a few hours a day. But I soon realized I
couldn’t support myself on that amount of money. I also realize as long as people
believed I was 16 years old, they weren’t going to
pay me any more money. At 16, I was 6 foot tall. I’ve always had
little gray hair. My friends in school
used to say that once a week, when we dressed
in a suit for mass, I looked more like a teacher. So I decided to
lie about my age. In New York, we had a
driver’s license at 16. Back then, it didn’t have a
photo on it, just an IBM card. So I altered one digit
of my date of birth. I was actually born
in April of 1948. But I dropped the four,
converted it to a three. And that made me 26 years old. I walked around applying
for the same type of work. People gave me a little more
money, a few more hours. But even then, it was very
difficult to make ends meet. One of the few things I
had taken when I left home was a checkbook. I had money from
work in the summers. I had some money in
that checking account. So every so often, I
would write a check to supplement my income– $20, $25. The funds were there. The checks were good. But it was my friends, my peers,
who would constantly say to me, you know, you’re
the only guy who walks into a bank in
the middle of Manhattan. You have no account there. You don’t know a soul. You talk to somebody behind the
desk, and they OK your check. Oh, well, my checks are good. But if I walked in there,
they wouldn’t touch my check. You walk in there,
they don’t bat an eye. Years later, reporters
would write and speculate and say that that was my
upbringing– mannerisms, dress, appearance, speech. Whatever it was, it
was very easy to do. So consequently, when
the money ran out, I kept writing those checks. Of course, the checks
started to bounce. Police started looking
for me as a runaway. So I thought maybe
it was a good time to start thinking about
leaving New York City. But I was quite
apprehensive about going to Chicago or Miami, wondered
if they’d cash a New York check on a New York
driver’s license in Miami as quickly as they
did in Manhattan. I was walking up 42nd Street
one afternoon about 5 o’clock in the evening, 16
years old, pondering all of these things,
when I started to approach the front door of an
old hotel that used to be there called the Commodore Hotel– now the Grand Hyatt. Just as I was about to get to
the front door of the hotel, out stepped an Eastern Airline
flight crew onto the sidewalk. I couldn’t help but notice
the captain, the copilot, the flight engineer, about
three or four flight attendants dragging their bags to the
curb to load them in the van to take them to the airport. As they loaded the van, I
thought to myself, that’s it. I could pose as a pilot. I could travel all over
the world for free. I probably could get
just about anybody anywhere to cash a check for me. So I walked up the
street a little further to 42nd and Park. I went to crossover. I heard a huge helicopter. So I looked up, and there
was New York Airways landing on the roof of
the Pan Am building. Pan Am, the nation’s
flag carrier, the airline that flew around the world– I thought, what a
perfect airline to use. So the next day, I
placed a phone call to the executive corporate
offices of Pan Am. I remember distinctly when
the phone was ringing, I had absolutely no idea
what I was going to say. When they answered,
“Pan American Airlines. Good morning, can I help you?” Yes, ma’am. I’d like to– I’d like to speak to somebody
in the purchasing department. “Purchasing? One moment.” The clerk came on. I said, yes, sir. Maybe you can help me. My name is John Black. I’m a copilot with a company
based out of San Francisco. Been with the company about
seven years, but never had anything like
this come up before. “What’s the problem?” Well, we flew a trip
in here yesterday. We’re going out later today. Yesterday, I sent my uniform
out through the hotel to have it dry cleaned. Now the hotel and the cleaners
say they can’t find it. I’m with a flight in
about four hours– new uniform. “Don’t you have
a spare uniform?” Certainly, back home
in San Francisco. But I’d never get it here
in time for my flight. Do you understand this will cost
you the price of a uniform, not the company?” I understand. “Hold on. I’ll be right back.” He came back and
said, my supervisor says you need to go down
to the Well-Built Uniform Company on Fifth Avenue. They’re our supplier. I’ll call them and let them
know you’re on the way. Well, that’s exactly
what I wanted to know. So I went down to the
Well-Built Uniform Company. Little fella, Mr.
Rosen fitted me out in the uniform, black aberdeen
with three gold stripes on the arm. I certainly looked old
enough to be the pilot. When he was all done, I
said, how much do I owe you? “Well, the uniform’s $286.” I said, no problem. I’ll write you a check. “No, um, we can’t
take any checks.” Oh, well, then I’ll
just pay you cash. We can’t accept cash. You need to fill out
this computer card. Then in these boxes, put
your employee number. Then we bill this back
under uniform allowance, comes out of your
next Pan Em paycheck. Well, that’s even better. Go ahead and do that. New York had two airports– LaGuardia and Kennedy. LaGuardia was 20 minutes from
Manhattan, Kennedy was 50. Naturally, LaGuardia being
the closer of the two, that’s where I went. I spent most of the morning
walking around LaGuardia in the uniform, trying
to figure out now that I had this
uniform, how the hell do you get on these planes? I got a little hungry. So about lunchtime, I
walked in the luncheonette in the terminal, sat down
at the counter on the stool and ordered a sandwich. Moments later, a
TWA crew walked in. The flight attendants
sat in the booth, but the pilots up at the
counter on either side of me, and captain right next to me. Now back before deregulation
of the airlines, airline people
thought of themselves as just one big family. So they didn’t hesitate a
moment to talk to each other. The captain kinda leaned over. “Hey, young man. How’s Pan Am doing?” Doing just fine, captain. “Tell me, what’s Pan Am
doing out here at LaGuardia? Pan Am doesn’t fly
into LaGuardia. They only fly into Kennedy.” Well, I picked up
on that right away. Yeah, we came into
Kennedy at a layover. So I came over to
visit some friends. Matter of fact, I’m on my
way back to Kennedy now. “So tell me, young man, what
type of equipment are you on?” Airline people have a
lot of jargon for things. One of them is they never call
a plane a plane or an aircraft, they call it equipment. And what type of
equipment you’re on meant what type of plane do you fly. Back then, a DC-8, a 707. Of course, I didn’t know that. And I thought,
type of equipment? The only equipment
I’m on is this stool. They must mean what
type of equipment is on the planes I fly. So I thought, well, they got
the wings, they got the engine. They always had a
sticker on the engine who manufactured the engine. So I said, yeah, it’s
General Electric. All three pilots kind of just
stopped eating and leaned over. And the captain
said, oh, really? What do you fly,
a washing machine? So I knew I had said
the wrong thing. Out the door I went. Everybody had an
airline ID card, a plastic laminated card much
like a driver’s license today. Yet without the ID card,
the uniform was worthless. I went back to Manhattan
pretty discouraged thinking where would I come up
with a Pan American Airlines corporate ID? I was sitting in the hotel room. I noticed a big thick
Manhattan Yellow Pages. So I pulled them down on
the bed, flipped them open, and looked under the
word identification. There were three or
four pages of companies who made convention badges,
metal badges, plastic badges, police badges, fire badges. Started to call around. And finally, one
company said, listen, most of those airline
IDs manufactured by Polaroid, 3M company. You need to call one of them. Finally got the 3M company
on the phone in Manhattan. “Yeah, we manufacture Pan
Am’s identification system along with a number
of other carriers. How come?” So I tell them, I’m a purchasing
officer for a major US carrier. I’m in New York
just for the day. We’re getting ready
to expand our routes, hire a lot of new employees,
go to a formal ID. We’re very impressed
with this Pan Am format. Wondered if I came by your
office this afternoon briefly, we could discuss
quantity and price. “By all means, come on by.” So I went by dressed in a suit. And the sales rep
opened the book. Yeah, we do United,
Braniff, National, Pan Am. Pan Am! We like this Pan Am format. Wonder if you have a
sample I could bring back. Sure, I’ll be right back. And he brought me
back a 5″ by 7″ glossy piece of paper with a
picture of an ID card blown up in the middle of it, someone
else’s picture in the picture, John Doe for a name, and in
bold red ink across the front, “This is a sample only.” I said, no, I’m
afraid this won’t do. I need to bring back an
actual physical card. And by the way, what is all
this equipment on the floor? “We don’t just sell these cards. We sell the system–
camera, laminator.” We have to buy all this? “Absolutely.” But tell you what, since we
have to buy it all, why don’t we just demonstrate how
it works and use me? “Fine, have a seat right here.” Took my picture,
and made the card. [LAUGHTER] I was going down the
elevator studying the card. It had a blue border
across the top, about a half inch in
Pan Am’s color blue, but not a single thing
on the card said Pan-Am– no logo, no insignia,
no company name. This was a plastic card
like a credit card. So you couldn’t type on
it, couldn’t write on it, couldn’t print on it. Discouraged, I put it in
my pocket, headed back to the hotel. As I was walking back, I noticed
that I’d passed a hobby shop. So I turned around
and walked back. Excuse me, sir, I see you
sell a lot of models here. Do you sell models of
commercial jetliners? “Sure, over there.” And I bought a model of
a Pan Am 707 cargo jet. Took it back to my
room, opened the box, threw all the parts out. But they’re at the
bottom of the box was a sheet of decals
that went on the model. And when soaked in
a glass of water, the little Pan Am
blue globe that went on the tail of
the plastic plane went perfect up at the
top of the plastic card. And the word “Pan Am”
and the special styling and graphics that would
have went on the fuselage went perfect across
the top of the card. And the clear decal on
the laminated plastic made a beautiful
identification card. Pan Am says they estimate that
between the ages of 16 and 18, I flew more than a
million miles for free, boarded more than 260 commercial
aircraft in more than 26 countries around the world. Pan Am says, keep in mind the
fact that Frank Abagnale did in fact pose as
one of our pilots for a long period of time,
he never once stepped on board one of our aircraft. That’s true. I never flew on Pan
Am because I was afraid someone might
say to me, “You know, I’m based in San Francisco. Been out there 16 years. I don’t recall ever
meeting you before.” Or someone might say,
you know, “Your ID card is not exactly like my ID card.” So instead, I flew
on everyone else. If I wanted to go
somewhere, I literally just walked out to the
airport, walked up on the board, United
Flight 800 to Chicago. Then I went downstairs to the
door marked United operations and walked in. The operations clerk, “Hey, Pan
Am, what can we do for you?” I was wondering
if the jumpseat’s open on 800 [INAUDIBLE] Chicago. I was open this evening. Like to get a pink slip pass. I’d give them my ID,
write me out a pass. I’d walk out, hand it
to the flight attendant. She’d open the door
to the cockpit. And I’d step in. They had a captain, a copilot,
a flight engineer, and the seat behind the captain called
the jumpseat pilots dead head on company time. Because pilots
love to talk shop, once you picked
up that jargon, it was the same conversation
over and over and over. So I just step on board. Even [? John ?] Bob Davis
be running to Chicago. On the taxi out, always
the same questions. “So Bob, how long you
been with Pan Am?” Been flying about seven years. “What position you fly?” Right seat, which is airline
terminology for a copilot. “What type of
equipment are you on?” Had that one down perfect. [LAUGHTER] Matter of fact, whatever
they flew, I didn’t fly. So I had no problems with that. Then we’d arrive in Chicago,
I’d go by the Pan Am ticket counter, but just enough to get
the attention of the passenger service rep. Excuse me, I haven’t laid
over here in over a year. We’re still at the– “Palmer House Hilton downtown. Catch a crew bus lower
level door three, out.” I go down to the Palmer
House Hilton, walk in, and on the corner
of the registration desk was a little sign
that said “Airline crews.” That was a three-ring binder. You signed in, referenced your
flight number, showed your ID. They’d give me a key. I’d stay two or three
days, and Pan Am would be direct billed
for my room and my meals. I also could cash a personal
check at the front desk because I was an
employee of the airline. The airline had a
contract with the hotel. And as a courtesy,
they’d cash your check. But then I found out
that every airline honors every other airline
employee’s personal check. Actually, a reciprocal agreement
still practiced today in 2017. So at the San Francisco airport,
a Delta flight attendant can walk up to an American
Airlines ticket counter, show her ID, and cash a
personal check up to $100 and vice versa. Of course, when I found that
out, I’d go out to JFK or LAX. Only, I’d go to everybody– Northeast, National,
KLM, Air France. It would take me a good eight
hours stopping at every counter in every building. By the time I got all the
way around the other end of the airport, at least
eight hours had gone by. What did you have
in eight hours? Shift change, new people. So I’d go all the way back
around the other way again. As you know, I went
on to impersonate a doctor in a Georgia
hospital for a while. I took the bar exams in
Louisiana, passed the bar, went to work for
Attorney General PF Gremillion in the civil
division of the state court where I spent about a
year practicing law. In both the job as the
lawyer and the doctor, no one ever doubted
for a second I was not eligible or qualified to do so. I on my own resigned
and moved on. Of course, like any
criminal, sooner or later, you get caught. And I was no exception
to that rule. I was actually arrested
just once in my life when I was 21 years old
by the French police in a small town in southern
France called Montpellier. The French police were
actually arresting me on an Interpol warrant issued
by the Swedish police who were looking for me
for forgery in Sweden, but believed that I
was living in France. When the French authorities
took me into custody on that warrant, they
realized I had forged checks all over France. So they refused to honor the
warrant and Sweden’s request for my extradition. They later convicted
me of forgery and sent me to French prison. I served my time
at a place called the maison d’arret,
the house of arrest, in a small town in southern
France called Perpignan. Steven Spielberg
told Barbara Walters, “It was extremely important
to me to go back to that cell, to the exact cell he was
in and reconstruct it according to the logbooks
during his stay there.” He said, “To my
amazement, there was a blanket on the floor, no
mattress, a hole in the floor to go the bathroom, no
plumbing, no electricity.” He said, “According
to the log books, I entered the prison
at 198 pounds, left the prison at 109 pounds.” When my sentence
was over in France, I was extradited to
Sweden where I was later convicted of forgery in
a Swedish court of law and sent to a Swedish
penitentiary in Malmo, Sweden. When my prison term
was up in Sweden, US federal authorities
took custody of me and returned me to
the United States. Eventually, United
States federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, which
sentenced me to 12 years in federal prison. I served 4 of the 12
years at a federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia. When I was 26 years
old, the government offered to take me out of
prison on the condition I go to work with an agency
of the federal government for the remainder of my
sentence until my parole had been satisfactorily completed. I agreed and was released. This year, I’m celebrating
41 years at the FBI. I’ve been at the Bureau
for more than four decades. I work out of Washington DC. I actually make my home in
Charleston, South Carolina. So every Monday, I
fly up to Washington, about an hour flight, and I
go home on Thursday evenings. I live in Charleston with my one
and only wife of 40 plus years and my three sons. My youngest boy graduated
from the University of Beijing in China. He went on to get his
master’s degree there. He reads, writes, and
speaks Chinese fluently. He works for a San
Francisco gaming company called Glu Mobile. He designs games for
the Chinese market. All of his games are
in Chinese, and they’re in their fourth generation
as mobile games and devices. My middle son graduated
from University of Nevada in Las Vegas. His degree was in business. He and his wife
graduated together. And he and her own a
business in South Carolina, and they manage that
business together. My oldest son graduated from
University of Kansas at KU. We went on to
Loyola School of Law in Chicago to get
his law degree. Passed the bar in
Illinois, and went on to make his dad
very, very proud. He’s an FBI agent. He’s been in the
Bureau about 12 years. He supervises a team that
deals with American citizens kidnapped overseas. So they’re a response
team that operates out of Quantico, Virginia. As many of you know, I had very
little to do with the film. I would have preferred not to
had a movie made about my life. I actually raised my three
boys in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the same house for 25 years. My neighbors had
no idea who I was. And I would have preferred
it stayed that way. But Steven Spielberg
told Barbara Walters he felt compelled to tell
the world the story not because of what I did,
but because of what I’d done my life after that. He loved the redemption
side of the story, wanted the world
to know the story. So in the end, my family
and I were very pleased with the outcome of the film. But we thought in
a couple of years, that would all be forgotten
and move on with our life. I never dreamed that
“Catch Me If You Can” would go on to earn more than
$1 billion for Dreamworks and be shown over and over
literally every week on HBO and TV and then become a
Broadway musical and a TV show. So consequently, every Monday
morning when I come to work, I have e-mails that come
from all over the world. Someone who’s seeing the
movie for the first time, watching the play at a community
theater or a high school somewhere, and they
feel compelled to write. And of course, they come from
people literally as young as eight years old sending those
e-mails to people as old as 80. Most people assume I’ll
never read those e-mails or see those e-mails. But they feel
compelled to write, and they want to
make a statement. Some say, you know,
you were brilliant. You were an absolute genius. I was neither. I was just a child. Had I been brilliant,
had I been a genius, I don’t know that
I would have found it necessary to break the law
in order to just simply survive. And while I know that
people are fascinated by what I did some 50
years ago as a teenage boy, I’ve always looked
upon what I did as something that was
immoral, illegal, unethical, and a burden I
live with literally every single day of my life,
and will until my death. There are many
who write and say, well, you know, you
were certainly gifted. That I was. I was one of those
few children that got to grow up in the
world with a daddy. Now, the world is
full of fathers. But there are very few men
worthy of being called daddy by their child. I had a daddy loved his children
more than he loved life itself. Steven Spielberg told Barbara
Walters the [INAUDIBLE] I’ve researched Frank’s youth. Now without having met
Frank, I couldn’t help but put his father in the
film through the likes of Christopher Walken. My father was a man who had
four children– three boys and a daughter. Every night at bedtime,
he’d walk into your room. He was 6′, 3″. He would drop down on one
knee, kiss you on the cheek, pull the cover up. And he’d put his lip
up on your earlobe. And he’d whisper deep into
your ear, “I love you. I love you very much.” He never ever missed a night. As I grew older, I sometimes
fell asleep before he got home. But I always woke
up the next morning, knew he had been at my bedside. Years later, my older
brother joined me in my room temporarily. He was in the Marine Corps. He was 6′, 4″. He played semi-pro
football for Buffalo. But my father would
walk around to his bed, hug him, kiss him, whisper
in his ear he loved him. When I was 16 years
old, I was just a child. All 16-year-olds
are just children. Much as we’d like them to be
adults, they’re just children. And like all children,
they need their mother, and they need their father. All children need their
mother and their father. All children are entitled to
their mother and their father. And though it is not
popular to say so, divorce is a very
devastating thing for a child to
deal with and then have to deal with the rest
of their natural life. For me, a complete
stranger, a judge, told me I had to choose
one parent over the other. That was a choice a
16-year-old boy could not make. So I ran. How could I tell you
my life was glamorous? I cried myself to sleep
’til I was 19 years old. I spent every birthday,
Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day in a
hotel room somewhere in the world where people
didn’t speak my language. The only people that
associated with me were people who believed
me to be their peer, 10 years older than
I actually was. I never got to go to a senior
prom, high school football game, share a relationship
with someone my own age. I always knew I’d get caught. Only a fool would
think otherwise. The law sometimes sleeps,
but the law never dies. I was caught. I went to some very bad places. My boys have grown up
asking their mother, why is it that dad gets up
in the middle of the night and goes down to the TV room? Because you know he
doesn’t turn the TV on. He just sits there all night. That’s because there are
things you can’t forget, things you’re not
meant to forget. While I was sitting in that
pitch black cell in France, my father, 57, was climbing
the subway stairs in New York as he did every day. He was in great physical shape. He just happened to trip. He reached his arm
to break his fall. He slipped, hit his
head on the railing, landed at the
bottom of the step. He was dead. I didn’t know he was dead. I was thinking
about him, how much I couldn’t wait to see him, hold
him, hug him, kiss him, tell him how sorry I was. But I never got the
opportunity to do that. I was very fortunate
because I was raised in a great country where
everyone gets a second chance. I owe my country 800 times
more than I can ever repay it over these past four decades. That is why I am
at the FBI today 32 years after the federal
court order expired requiring me to do so. I have turned down three pardons
from three sitting presidents of the United States
because I do not believe, nor will I ever believe,
that a piece of paper will excuse my actions,
that only in the end, my actions will. 40 plus years ago, on
an undercover assignment in Houston, Texas,
I met my wife. When the assignment was
over, I broke protocol to tell her who I really was. I didn’t have a dime to my name. But I eventually
asked her to marry me. Against the wishes of
her parents, she did. Now, I could sit up here and
tell you that I was born again, I saw the light, prison
rehabilitated me. But the truth is
God gave me a wife. She gave me three
beautiful children. She gave me a family. And she changed my
life, she and she alone. Everything I have, everything
I’ve achieved, who I am today is because of the
love of a woman. And the respect three
boys have for their father is something I would
never ever jeopardize. There comes a time in all of
our lifetime, we grow older. And eventually, if
we’re fortunate enough, we have children. And as every parent knows,
whether your child’s three months old
or 38 years old, when you lay ahead
on a pillow at night, you’re just about
to close your eyes, the last thing you think about,
the last thing you worry about are your children. So if you still
have your mother, you still have your father,
you give them a hug. You give them a kiss. You tell them you love
them while you can. And to those men in the
audience, both young and old, I would remind you what it
truly is to actually be a man. It has absolutely nothing to
do with money, achievements, skills, accomplishments,
degrees, professions, positions. A real man loves his wife. A real man is
faithful to his wife. And real men, next to
God and his country, put his wife and his children
as the most important thing in his life. Steven Spielberg made
a wonderful film. But I’ve done nothing greater,
nothing more rewarding, nothing more worthwhile,
nothing that’s actually brought me more peace, more joy,
more happiness, more content in my life than simply being
a good husband, a good father, and what I strive to be
every day of my life– a great daddy. God bless you, and thanks
for coming this morning. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. We have a bunch of questions
both from the audience as well as some people that sent in. So we’ll take some questions
I’ll be happy to answer. AUDIENCE: Do you have
any advice for Googlers who are feeling imposter
syndrome, the insecure feeling that they’re not nearly
as good at their job as their colleagues
believe they are? And how did you stay
confident, or did you, when you knew where
you were an imposter? FRANK ABAGNALE: You know,
people always say to me, you know, you were brilliant. You were a genius. No, I was an adolescent. And that was why
I was successful. I was so young that I had
no fear of being caught. I was so young that I didn’t
think about consequences. Everything I did was
not premeditated. Everything was done by
opportunity or by chance. So if, in fact, I
was standing out in front of a bank in
Manhattan with a $500 check, there was never a plan. I didn’t say to myself, I’m
going in, cash this check. If they say this, I’ll do this. If they do this, I’ll do that. I just went in and did it. And I felt that there was
nothing I couldn’t do. I had tremendous
confidence in myself. But everything was for a reason. So I saw that airline crew. I never dreamed about
getting on planes or staying in hotels
around the world for free. All I saw was a uniform
and said to myself, if I had that uniform on,
and I walked in a bank, it would be a lot easier to
cash a check than me walking in as just some young kid. So the whole thing was to
get a uniform and do that. But then I quickly
realized the power of that uniform, how it
turned from night to day. No one ever said
no when I walked in to cash a check, even though
there was no bank account there or anything else. All they saw was the uniform. They didn’t see me. And I realized very early on
the power of that uniform. And then I realized I’d
gone to the TWA ticket counter just like he
showed in the movie. I was going to purchase
an airline ticket. And the ticket agent said to
me, “Are you riding for free, or are you buying the ticket?” And I said, riding for free? “Yeah, you on the jumpseat?” And I learned
about the jumpseat. So then I flew around
the world for free. Everything I did,
I did by chance. I moved into an apartment
complex in Atlanta. I said I was a doctor
because I didn’t want to write down airline pilot. They were looking for me
with that airline pilot. So I said I was a doctor. I said pediatrician because
it was a singles complex, and there were only single
people living there. And then I met a
doctor who lived there. And then he took me
up to the hospital. And I met people. So I ended up at the hospital. I dated a flight attendant
whose father was the attorney general in Louisiana. I told her that I had
gone to law school, but I never practiced law. Instead, I wanted to be a pilot. And I got furloughed
from the airline. So she introduced me to her dad. And I went to work. Everything was all these
opportunities, but always the confidence that
I could pull it off. And that became just from age. But if you believe that you’re
good at what you do, and you strive to be good
at what you do, you don’t need to worry about
what other people think. You need to be
able to understand that you have your
own confidence that you can do whatever it
is you’re required to do. And other people will see
that confidence in you. The minute you start
doubting yourself, other people will see that
you are doubting yourself. And that becomes a weakness
in your personality. So you always want you to
be confident in everything you do that you can do it. You can get it done. You’ll find a way
to get it done. AUDIENCE: Obviously, technology
has evolved quite a bit since you were going
around, things like that. Would somebody be able
to accomplish something similar today, even with all
of the technical advances? FRANK ABAGNALE: Yeah, you
know, I get asked that a lot. Actually, it’s, sorry to say,
but 4,000 times easier today than when I did it. Technology breeds crime. It always has, and
it always will. And there will always be people
willing to use technology in a self-serving way. So you know, I always
use the example that when I used
to forge checks, I needed a Heidelberg
printing press. It took me about 12 months
to learn that press. That was $1 million
printing press. It was 90 feet
long, 18 feet high. It required three journeymen
operators to operate it. So I built scaffoldings on
either sides of the press so I could eliminate
the other two positions. And because I was
a teenager, I was able to run the
length of that press. But there were
color separations. There were negatives. There were chemicals
you had to work with. There were plates
you had to make. There was typesetting involved. Today, one just opens
a laptop and decides to forge a counterfeited check. They first bring up
a diagram of a check with a little security
background in it. And then they go and
look on whose check they’re going to forge. So if I’m going to forge,
for example, Intuit’s check, I go to their company’s
website, capture their logo, and put it up on the corner
of the left top of the check. I put in their
corporate address. I might put some stuff in the
background, step and repeat patterns or whatever
it is I’m designing. And in 15 minutes, I have a
four color, beautiful check, prettier than the real check
they use, up on my website. Now in the old days,
you would’ve said to me, you know, this check
you printed for Pan Am? I have to admit,
it’s pretty awesome. It’s amazing, four
color, it looks terrific. But let me ask you this. How do you know
where Pan Am banks? I have no idea where they bank. So I’m just making
up a bank’s name. Chase Manhattan Bank, Morgan
Chase Plaza, New York, New York. How do you know the
account number is? No idea, I’m just making
up a bunch of numbers. How do you know who the
authorized signer is? I don’t know. I’m just signing
somebody as Joe Black, whatever name on a check. But we live in a way-too-much
information world today. So once I forge Intuit’s
check, every forger calls their victim twice. Because every
forger will tell you a victim will tell me
everything I need to know. So when he calls, he
would have simply said, “Like to speak to someone
in accounts receivables.” “Sure. One moment.” “Accounts receivables,
can I help you?” “Yeah, I was getting ready to
pay an invoice you sent us. But we prefer to
wire you the funds. Just needed wiring
instructions.” “Yes, sir. We bank with Bank of America. Our account number is 176853.” They tell you
right on the phone. You can call any company
and just tell them you’re going to wire them money. They’re going to tell
you where they bank, on what street, their
account number– what you need on the check. So I captured the bank’s
logo, I put it on the check. I put the MICR line
down on the bottom. And I hang up and call back. “Intuit Corporation,
can I help you?” Yeah, I’d like to
speak to someone in your corporate
communications. “Sure, one moment.” “Corporate communications,
can I help you?” Yeah, I wondered if you’d
be so kind as to mail me a copy of your annual report. “Sure, I’ll send
you one out today. On page three is a
signature of the chairman of the board, the CEO,
the CFO, the treasurer. White glossy paper, black ink. Camera ready. All right, scan it, digitize
it, put it on the check. The technology has made
it much, much easier. And when we talk about IDs,
making an airline ID today would be very simple with
the technology that’s available today. So all of those things
are a lot easier. As I used to say, it would
be a little more difficult for me to get on an aircraft
today posing as a pilot. But if you ever
go to the airport and watch the crews go
through the airport, they just simply hold
up a card, and they go through the airport. Anyone could make that card with
today’s software and technology that’s available to anybody. So yeah, technology has
certainly made it a lot easier. So that’s why we are
constantly making technology to counter the use of
technology by criminals and to make it more
difficult for them to convert that technology
into a negative idea. AUDIENCE: In your
candid opinion, did Leonardo DiCaprio and
Tom Hanks do justice to your and Joseph Shea’s respective
roles in the movie? FRANK ABAGNALE: Yeah, you know,
I’m not a big movie person. So I watch very
little television. This is most of
my life, not just something I took
up even as a kid, I didn’t watch a
lot of television. I don’t watch a lot
of television now, and I certainly very
rarely go to movies. So when it was
announced that Leo was the person picked
to play the part, I really knew nothing about him. My sons weren’t too
happy that it was Leo. But I didn’t know
anything about him. So I went to the movies and
saw “Street Gangs of New York.” And I said to myself
sitting there, how would this person portray a
person 16 years old? He had a beard. At the time he filmed that
movie, he was about 27, 28 years old. I thought, no one’s going
to believe this guy is 16. But because I never
saw the script, I didn’t know if maybe Spielberg
was making the character a lot older and not a teenager. When the movie came out,
it was quite amazing that Leo starts out in the
film at 14, then he’s 16, then he’s 18, then he’s 21. He is an amazing
character actor. And he took the role,
and he did an amazing job of playing the role. Tom Hanks’ character was
actually named Joe Shea, S-H-E-A. He was an
Irishman from Boston. Joe Shea was my
supervisor at the FBI after I came out of prison. I answered directly to him. He and I were friends for
30 years until his death. I’ve written five
books on crime. The last book I wrote,
“Stealing Your Life,” I dedicated that book to him
and our 30-year relationship. But he was an
Irishman from Boston, which Tom Hanks– he didn’t
want his real name used. So Tom Hanks used the name
of an old football player and took that name
Carl Hanratty. But if you were watching
the screen, for me, it was like watching him. He looked like him. He sounded like him. He had his mannerisms. They did an amazing
job, both of them, in portraying the
parts of real people that were still
living at that time. AUDIENCE: So first
of all, as a father, your statement was
just got me tearing. So I’m not gonna ask
you anything about that. I’m gonna ask totally
practical with the Equifax hacks and the Anthem hacks
that everyone in this room has been probably affected
by one or the other, is there anything we can do as
citizens to protect ourselves? Or is it a lost cause? FRANK ABAGNALE: No, I’ll
tell you what to do. But let me explain this to you. That is where– when I went
to the FBI 41 years ago, I worked undercover for
a long period of time. Then I went into
the field and dealt with counterfeits and forgeries,
embezzlement, financial crimes. In the last 20 years, I’ve dealt
with only cyber-related crimes. So I spend most of my
time with breeches. I have worked every breech
back to TJ Maxx 15 years ago. And this is what I’ve learned. First of all, every
single breach– every breach occurs because
somebody in that company did something they
weren’t supposed to do, or somebody in
that company failed to do something they
were supposed to do. Hackers do not cause breaches. People do. And every breach
comes down to that. So in the case of
Equifax, they didn’t update their infrastructure. That didn’t fix the patches
they should’ve put in place. There were very negligent
in what they were doing. So the hacker waited
for the door to open. So when you interview a hacker,
the hacker will say to you, look, I can’t get
into Chase Bank. The truth is they spend about
a half a billion dollars a year on technology. Every 12 months, they spend
a half a billion dollars of their profit on putting
technology and software in their bank to keep me out. However, they employ
200,000 people worldwide. All I have to do is wait
for one of those people to do something they
weren’t supposed to do or failed to do what
they were supposed to do. And that’ll open the
door for me to get in. When you steal
credit card numbers like Home Depot,
Target, TJ Maxx, that’s stealing credit cards and
debit card information, that has a very short,
short shelf life. So you have to get rid
of it very, very quickly. But if I steal your name,
your social security number, and your date of birth,
you can’t change your name. You can’t change your
social security number. You can’t change
your date of birth. So those people warehouse that
data for two to three years. So we won’t even see that
surface for at least a couple of years before some of
that will start to surface, the data that was stolen. Whatever number
they start with– I think it was 143 million,
then it became 146 million. It was a million
drivers licenses, now it’s 10.6 million
drivers licenses. Are all breaches start
with very low numbers before they let you know
the actual true numbers. So it’s probably about 240
million pieces of information that were stolen. But I remind people all
the time that they’re going to warehouse that data. So buying one-year credit
monitoring services is absolutely worthless
because nothing’s going to happen in a year. And if you really
analyze Equifax, they were very unethical
in what they did. They thought to
themselves– first of all, they sold a bunch
of stock knowing that it was going to come out. That was worse. But then they sat there
and said, how do we make a profit from this? It was our mistake, but
how do we turn this around into a profit? So they sat there
and said, what we’ll do is we’ll offer millions
and millions of people one-year credit monitoring
service for free. They’ll sign up. And in a year from
now, we’ll simply say that data hasn’t
really surfaced yet. You need to be
enrolled automatically into our program,
which is $20 a month. So they’re going to make
millions and millions of dollars with automatic
enrollment into their program. If you’ve been a
subject of that breach, there’s only two things you
can do, and two things only. One, you can freeze your credit. Each state varies about that. So some states, freezing
your credit is free. Other states, there’s a fee
associated with it, typically $10 to freeze it,
$18 to unfreeze, $10 to freeze it again. So for the last two years,
I’ve testified before Congress. And you go to my
website at abagnale.com. You’ll see me testifying
before Congress telling them that they need to put a federal
law across the 50 states that allow anyone to freeze
their credit at any time and unfreeze it at any time. There should be no
reason that there should be a fee associated
with it because then that becomes a deterrent
to people actually freezing their credit. So you can freeze your credit. That’s one thing you can do. And then you unfreeze
it if you need it, if it’s not too
much of a hassle. Then the only other thing
is to monitor your credit. So I’ve used a credit
monitoring service since 1992. So for about 25 years,
I’ve been using a service. I think they charge
me like $12 a month. The reason I like it, I
can monitor my own credit. I don’t need them. All they’ve given
me for that $12 is the ability to go on my
keyboard in a few strokes and bring up my credit reports
instantly on my screen. And up on my screen
comes all three reports– Equifax, Experian, TransUnion. At the top is my score for
the moment of that day, what my credit score is
at those three agencies. Then I can scroll down
and look at my credit. And I can say to
myself, you know, I paid this car off
like four months ago. They still show that I
owe money to this bank. I’ll correct that. And I can go all the way
down and see every inquiry made on my credit. That’s what we call
hard and soft inquiries. And that’s your
employer checking your credit, the IRS
checking your credit, your insurance company
checking your credit, or a credit card
you applied for, and they’re checking
your credit. So I really don’t need them. But for a fee, they’re also
monitoring my credit as well. So they’re checking
my credit, and they’re letting me know in real
time if someone attempts to use my social security
number to get a job, open a bank account, or
whatever the case may be. So to me, it’s worth using that. Now, one other tip I’ll give
you is I don’t own a debit card. I’ve never owned one. I’ve never allowed my
three sons to possess one. Certainly and truly the
worst financial tool ever given to the
American consumer. So a long time ago, I asked
myself a simple question. How would I remove 99.9% of my
personal liability like that? Because I really don’t want to
worry about all these things. So I use the safest
form of payment that exists on the
face of the earth. And that is a credit card. Credit card– Visa,
MasterCard, American Express, Discover card. Not debit-credit,
but credit card. Every day of my life,
I spend their money. I don’t spend my money. My money sits in a
money market account. It earns interest. Actually, nobody knows
where it is because it’s not exposed to anybody to find it. It’s just sitting there. I go to the dry cleaner,
I give them my card. I pick up the groceries,
I give them my card. I put fuel in my boat on
the weekend, I use my card. I pay the marina to keep my
boat in the water all year long, they put the rent
on my credit card. I travel all over the world. While I wait to get reimbursed,
I use my credit card. If I need euros, I go to the ATM
machine, I use my credit card. I’m not going to use my debit
card to get euros overseas or a pounds in Great Britain. And every day, I use my card. And then if I pay the bill
in full or part of the bill, my credit score goes up. So I’m building credit while
I’m using that credit card. And if tomorrow– and
I’ll do everything to protect my information–
but if tomorrow someone gets my card number and charges
$1 million on my credit card, by federal law, my
liability is zero. I have no liability. So yes, I love to shop online. I don’t use a special card. I just use my credit card. If they don’t deliver
the merchandise, if they deliver it
and it’s broken, if the host site I went to
was fictitious to begin with, I have zero liability. When you use your debit card,
every time you reach for it, you’re exposing the
money in your account. The only person who’s
going to get robbed is you. When you use your
debit card, you could use it for the next
50 years 20 times a day, you will not raise your
credit score by that much. And of course, when you
use your debit card, you are liable up
to a certain amount. And it takes a while in order
to get that debit card fixed. So when we do post
investigations at breaches, and we say to someone on
your incident, what happened? Well, I was in Target. But I used a Visa card. So I don’t know, nothing. They canceled my
card the next day. Two days later, FedEx
sent me a new card. And that was the last
I heard about it. What about you? And I used a debit card there. They took $3,000 out
of my checking account. It took me two months
to get my money back while they said they
were investigating. I had to pay my rent, had
kids’ tuition, everything. I couldn’t pay it because
they had my money. So I do it for that. So I had three sons that
went off to college. And I said to them, I’m not
giving you a debit card. I’ve actually applied for
a credit card in your name. So it’s your card. Of course, you’re 18. You have no credit. So I guarantee the card. So as a guarantee-er of the
card, three things take place. One, the bill comes to me, and
I’m responsible for the bill. So if you spend a lot
of time in the bar, I’m going to know that. Two, I set the
limit on the card. So whatever I want you to
spend each month while you’re at school, I’ll set that limit. Third, every month that I pay
the bill goes on your credit. So by the time you
get out of college, you should be looking at a
credit score of about 800. You want to buy a car,
buy a house, buy a condo? You’re not going to
need me to do that. All three of my sons came
out of college with scores up around 800. One of the best things
you can do for your kids is to teach them to learn
to use credit early on and build credit in their name. Credit is a very
important thing. 30 years ago, it only meant
whether you got the car, you got the house. Today, everything is
based on your credit. If a company hires you, they’re
going to check your credit. If you buy auto
insurance, they’re going to check your credit. If you buy life
insurance, they’re going to check your credit. Everything is based
on your credit. So you want to make sure that
you maintain good credit. It’s one of the best things
you can do with your kids. Question? AUDIENCE: I wanted
to ask you more about the FBI specifically,
and kind of hiring and how you got in there. It is such an interesting story. You know, when I was
younger I was really interested in
working for the FBI, worked in fraud and security. If my boss is watching, I’m
very happy where I am right now. But I couldn’t believe how
difficult it was to try and get into public service. I thought, you know, there’s– I was willing to take a pay cut. I was willing to move anywhere. I was willing to do anything. And it was difficult. I mean, I was in touch
with people at the FBI. And they were super
nice and very helpful. But I just couldn’t believe
the background checks, and there’s no available jobs,
and you have to keep e-mailing, and oh, you don’t
have a law degree? Oh, that’s not going to matter. And you know, again, I
ended up in a great spot. So I’m happy. But when people asked me about
public service and working for these organizations, I
really don’t have an answer. FRANK ABAGNALE: Yeah, the
FBI is extremely tough. We have about 13,000 agents
and about 25,000 support people who support the agents, analysts
and things of that nature. Currently, we take one in
every 10,000 applicants to be an agent. So it is extremely
difficult to get in the FBI. So just to share
the story with you, my oldest boy, when
he was about 14, I used to take my kids
to the FBI Academy, which is on a marine military
base in Quantico, Virginia because they like to
shoot guns on the range, and I would take them up there. When I was teaching
class, they would be out there with the instructor
shooting on the range. And I remember
distinctly coming back off the base, which takes
you about 20 minutes to get from the Academy
off to the base. And when we were riding through
the base, he said to me, you know, dad, this
is what I want to do. I want to become an FBI agent. I said, well, that’s great, son. But keep that in mind. And so he graduated
from high school. He said to me, I really
want to become a FBI agent. I said, that’s great. Now you gotta go to college. So he went to school at
University of Kansas, got his undergraduate. I always thought
he’d change his mind. My wife always had
a Christmas party for all the agents in Tulsa. We had about 200 FBI
agents in the state. And every Christmas,
they would be at our home with their family. And he would go
talk to all of them. And the Special
Agent in charge who’s in charge of the entire state,
he would say to him, yeah, my son tried to get in. But they turned him down. And he explained to
him that senator’s sons have been turned down. Former presidents’ sons
have been turned down. It has nothing to do with
anything other than you. And I kept emphasizing
that to him. But I kept thinking
he’d change his mind. So when he graduated from
undergraduate school, I said, son, I would recommend
you go to law school. “I have no desire
to be a lawyer.” I said, I understand. But if you really want
to pursue the FBI, that would put you
up a little higher and your chances of getting in. He went to Loyola School of Law. He graduated from law school. The Bureau requires
you pass the bar. So he took the bar in
Illinois, passed the bar. And then he went through
the year-long process of the process it takes
to apply to the Bureau. And I got very worried
because I’d say to my wife that, you know, I’m a little
concerned because first of all, I don’t know if
someone in management would like the fact that
my son is an FBI agent. Or maybe someone in
management would look at it and say, his dad has
done so much for them, we need to look at his son. It had absolutely
nothing to do with that. It was all about him. And I always tell him every day
he’s living his life’s dream. So he got in. But it is very, very tough. So when the Bureau came to me–
and they just a few years ago celebrated their
100th anniversary. They did a big
coffee table book, and they talk about me in there
as being the only person they ever did that with. The whole thing to
the Bureau back then, the director was
Clarence Kelley, who was the Director of
the Bureau at that time. He wanted the ability because
he could say to me, OK, you are a lieutenant
in the Army. You have been in the
Army this many years. Your expertise is this missile. I need you to learn all
of this in two weeks, and I’m sending
you to this base. And I want you to find
out what’s going on in this particular area. He knew that no matter
what assignment he gave me under cover,
I could go do it, whether it was a scientist
at a lab in New Mexico, whether it was a
doctor in a hospital, he knew that I could
get away with it, make people believe that I was
that person without any doubt. And that’s how they used me. I think that was
their initial thing. And then, of course, when
my time was up– and again, keep in mind that when
I got that offer, to me, it was just an opportunity. I looked at it, well,
opportunity to get out of jail. I am not going to
sit here and tell you I was a changed person, that
I was a different person than when I went into prison. I just saw that
as an opportunity to get out of prison. So I was going to do it. But then you get involved with
the men and women of the FBI who obviously are probably the
most ethical people you’ll ever meet in your life. They have tremendous
character, love of country, love of family. That kind of wears off on you. And I started to realize
that I met my wife, and I was becoming a husband. I take care of my wife, I take
care of children, fatherhood. All those things is what
really changed my life. Wasn’t that I was
rehabilitated or– those things changed my life. So it started out more
as an opportunity. So when my time was
over, and the court said his court order
ceases to be, he’s free to do whatever
he wants to do, I made the choice
to stay there only because I thought that I could
bring a lot to the Bureau. So the Bureau was very smart. They realized very
early on that I wouldn’t be accepted very well. And so there was a great
scene in the movie where Steven Spielberg obviously
knew that I was very, very difficult for the agents. Keep in mind now
this is back when there were no women agents,
no blacks, no Hispanics. Everybody was a white
agent, and they either graduated from Harvard, or
they graduated from Yale. And they all came from
very good families. And it was a totally different
environment 40 years ago. So they all had
really tunnel vision– once a criminal,
always a criminal. So they were not very,
very happy with the fact that I came there. So he showed that
scene of me walking in the office and the
way people looked at me. That took years for me
to turn that around. Took years for me to
build their credibility. And of course, in the
first part of my career, I was out in the field. I was undercover. So they really weren’t
dealing with me. So when I finished
working under cover, the director then simply
said, you know what? He needs to go to the
Academy and teach class so that every agent who
comes to the Academy, he will be their instructor
in one of their courses. And they will all know him. So I’ve taught at the Academy
now for well over 35 years. I taught my son when I
went through the Academy. Three generations of agents. And that helped a great
deal because they learned who I was early
on, knew who I was, and that changed a lot of that. But it took a lot of work to
turn that around and build that credibility. AUDIENCE: I’m curious
to know whether or not you continued to fly even after
you were released from jail and working at the Bureau
as the movie suggests, or if that was a bit of
Hollywood embellishment. FRANK ABAGNALE: Now, you
know, when people ask me– and I saw the movie
in a movie theater. I’ve only seen the movie twice. I’ve seen that
trailer 1,000 times, but I’ve only seen
the movie twice. So when the media asked me
what I thought about the movie and what was right
and what was wrong, I said, you know,
well, first of all, I have two brothers
and a sister. He portrayed me
as an only child. In real life, my
mother never remarried. There’s a scene in
the movie where she’s remarried as a little girl. That didn’t really happen. In the real life, I never saw
my father after I ran away. In the movie, they keep
having him come back to Christopher Walken
in the film who was nominated for
the Academy Award for that role as my father. That didn’t really happen. I escaped off the aircraft,
but I escaped off the aircraft through the kitchen galley where
they bring the food and stuff onto the plane. And there they had me
escape through the toilet. And my wife kind of
looked at me and said, you didn’t go through
the toilet, did you? I said, no, I didn’t
go through the toilet. So I thought he stayed
very close to the story. But pretty much all of that– he was very concerned about
being accurate, first of all, because it was the first
time he made a movie about a real person living. Second, the Bureau had an
information officer on the set for all the shooting
of the entire film to make sure that what
he said about the FBI and what comments they made
and all that was accurate. There was an agent from our
information office on the set. And then, of course,
as he later said, “I really got most
of my information from those three
retired agents.” Because he said their notes were
so particular and so accurate he said that “when I filmed
the scene in the hotel room, I had scripted it. And so we’re sitting there, and
I said, read me your notes.” He said, “I entered the
room with my gun pulled. I heard someone in the bathroom. I ordered them to come
out of the bathroom. And this is what happened.” He basically loved his notes
better than his script. So he used his
notes for the film. So I thought he did a good
job of staying very, very accurate at the movie. I’ll just make a
final comment to you having to deal with cyber now. I like to write about
crimes in the future. So I always used to
write to my class about what will we investigate
five years from now. What will an agent be
doing five years from now? And unfortunately, there’s good
news, and there’s bad news. First of all, the
good news, we will be doing away with passwords
in the next 24 months. Passwords will leave the world. There will be no more passwords. There is a new technology
called Trusona. That’s T-R-U-S-O-N-A.
Stands for true persona. It is a company in
Scottsdale, Arizona that created a
technology for the CIA which we have used now
for the last few years. That technology–
and I was an adviser on that technology for the CIA. So I’m an advisor on bringing
it to the commercial world. But it was the
ability for an agent to send data back from the
field, such as Afghanistan, on their iPhone, and that
Langley would know 100% that is the agent on the
other end, to 100% identify the person on the
other end of the device. That’s the level four security. So they basically
said, what if we brought this to
level two security, and we did away with passwords? So immediately,
when they announced that, Microsoft gave them
$10 million and said, I’m in. Develop it. So Microsoft is
going to use that on all their gaming,
all their access to their computers, et cetera. We now have the
ability to identify who the person is on the
other end of that device. And when you go to their
website at Trusona, they actually show
you how it’s done. So they show you
demo videos there that are three or
four minutes long that show you how it’s done. And that’s great. Passwords are stagnant. They should have been
gone long time ago. It’s why we have most of the
problems that we have today. So it is very important that
we get rid of passwords. And just in case
you didn’t know, if we take a bank like
a Bank of America, they spend about $6 million
a month in their call center resetting passwords. Costs them $6 million a month. So that would save that
bank $100 million a year to eliminate the
use of passwords. So that’s the good part of it. And I think that will
eventually do away with social security numbers. You’ll still have a
number assigned to you for the government purpose. But when I go by a car,
I go to the doctor, I don’t have to
give them a number because they already know
who I am through my device. So I won’t have to provide
a social security number. So I think that’s the good part. But I do believe that cyber,
up until this point in time, has been used for financial
crimes or gathering data and information
which is of value. What’s going to happen is we’re
going to see cyber very quickly now turn very black. So we have the ability,
as you know, to basically shut someone’s pacemaker off. But we have to be
within 35 feet of them. We test these device at
Quantico all the time. So as long as I walk up
within 35 feet of you, I take control of any bodily
device you have on you. So if I want to
assassinate you, I want to speed it up, take
it down, I can do that. But I believe that
in five years, you’ll be able to do that
from 5,000 miles away. We have the ability
now that we test that we can chase a car
down the interstate. We’ve got to get up within
35 feet of the vehicle. We take over the vehicle. We shut the motor off. We lock the person in the car. We lock the power window
so they can’t open them. We can turn on their airbag. Again, five years
from now, you’d be able to do that
5,000 miles away. So yeah, so our electrical
grid uses as a terrorist tool. The ability to shut
down an entire system, shut down an entire
banking system. Those are all the things
that, unfortunately, we’ll be dealing with in the next four
or five years as cyber starts to make that turn to the
very black side of cyber, not just about stealing
money, information, and data. And so that’s why we’re going
to have to work extra hard to make sure that we go back
to protect our electrical grid. I always remind people
we have the technology to prevent most
of these problems. But if you don’t use
it, then it’s worthless. And we tend to develop
a lot of things– I just want to make
this emphasis to you– we develop a lot of things
without following them through. So one thing I’ve
done in the government over the last several years,
if the government is going to buy a technology, they send
me to the technology company and say, try to defeat that. I just simply go there
and see their technology. As one CEO says, he
plays chess with you. You tell him you did
this, this, and this. And then he tells you,
we have a weakness right here because I would
come in and do this. So they build a wall up. And then he says, no, I
would still get in here until he says he can’t
do it any longer. Then we know we have
a good technology. But very rarely is– and I did that with
Trusona when we did it for the purpose of the CIA. But today– and it
tells you on the website that I advised on
their project and how it came down to commercial use. But today, what we have
is we develop things. So we say to you, here’s a
device you put in your kitchen, and then you can talk to it. You ask what the weather
is, what’s on TV tonight, all of that. I could easily reverse that
and listen to everything you say in your house. There are so many
weaknesses in your home. Your security cameras are access
points, your remote control on your TV, your
Samsung television, your refrigerator that tells
you how much milk is in it. My thing is I really
don’t need my refrigerator to talk to my toaster. They’ve gotten along
for a long time without ever having
a conversation. But what happens is
we develop something. We get really excited about it. “We gotta get this
to the marketplace.” And sure enough, we never
look at the negative side. All I try to say to technology
company, yeah, this is great. Now, can you take a
little time to just say, how would someone
use this technology in a negative, self-serving
way so that we build the block to that
before we ever give it to the public to use it? We’d save a lot of problems. Been an absolute pleasure
spending the morning with you. Thank you very much for coming. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. Smart, intelligent guy …but if there's no injured party/victim, There is no crime.. He never needed to do prison time!

  2. I'm in love with this man. Where was he when I was in high school? I could have used this information back then. I'm sure gonna use it now. Watching this again, and talking notes!

  3. Gee, I can't remember. Now what's my line: ""I always knew I'd get caught. Only a fool would think otherwise. The law sometimes sleeps, but the law never dies". This is something that every teenager and every simpleton in America should try and remember. There are those out there always trying to 'run a game' on someone or some entity or another. For all the planning (and sometime — NOT) that goes into what they do, no one ever plans for the day they get caught.

    Such understated humility. For all the wrong he did he still seems to have had or maintained some level of a 'moral compass'. Obviously, mom and dad passed on something good to him. Yet, he still chose to do wrong — very wrong. What I find most humbling is the fact that he makes no excuses for his actions. He's not trying to get out of it, not coming up with hollow explanations or reasoning. He's simply stating what he did wrong, what should have happened to him, but initially didn't. While at the same time he's trying to tell the world that there is not a smooth route in life if you choose to take the path he took. He's saying quite the opposite and appears perfectly happy to deal with the guilt, shame, the disbelief from others, not to mention those 'dark days' that will always follow him. Great lessons to be learned. Thank you for sharing.

  4. This speech should WAKE people up. There should be so much more we can do than a THUMBS UP… Fantastic speech, content and vision. Thank you F. A. wherever you are… I also went to Trusona dot com and he is listed as an advisor. So that is real tech… We are coming up on that 24 months and we are still using passwords… /shrug I can see I will need to watch this video again…

  5. "I wasn't a genius, I was just a kid."

    He's trying to chalk this all up to youthful indiscretion. I don't buy it at all. He was genius psychopath then, and he will always be exactly that. I don't buy his contrition act. He's seen parts of the US government in all its degeneracy that the rest of us would find unspeakable and then pretends the things he did when he was a kid will haunt him the rest of his life? Nope sorry…

  6. Wow! His parents wouldn’t even tell him they were getting a divorce, they made a judge do it. Right before forcing him make an on-the-spot decision about which parent to live with. Who does that?

  7. FBI "the most ethical people you will ever meat" Yeah back then certainly NOT NOW. Haw James Comey. Not to mention most of them are FUCKING COMPLETE LIARS. This guy is selling a fantasy.

  8. Alot of young people start their lives in a normal way, this guy has no excuse tbh. Instead he busts people who do the same what he used to do? This guy has no place in the FBI. They should kicked him out, and he should stop getting rich of his story. He is just scamming people on a bigger scale now lol.

  9. Finally hearing the legend and becoming a good person atfer all. No pause here. hahaha.
    So interesting listening to him.hahaha

  10. Looked it up almost $3mil in 2 years . Dam he was busy .Great story .The saying it takes a thief to catch one .

  11. Typical cock. Giving financial advice to those who don't need it or can afford it. So what if you can't get a credit or debit card ? I spend real money whilst you dirty fuck pigs are just spending someone else's. Well guess what, I don't owe anyone anything, I'm free, you guys are so far in debt I'd be doing you a favour if I took your daughters.

  12. All the people milling about, walking in late etc…. I would’ve been glued to my seat 1/2 hour before this talk started.

  13. Interesting how we glorify and admire criminals and criminal activity. Someone going against the system getting away with something

  14. It is fitting that one of the largest capitalist organizations on earth would sponsor a talk by a man who made his living as a con-man and parasite. In China a criminal of his stature would have been executed.

  15. So….what’s with the rude individuals walking in from of the speaker!? Also the women 3 times in less than 5 min out of the seat.

    Manners today, are atrocious. 🙄

  16. FBI should have made him into an actual secret agent , this guy could probably infiltrate a north korean nuclear submarine with the launch code and hand it over to south korean and have they go full game of throne on each other in the south china sea while he watch on a jet screen with a jack daniel .. probably screwing over a mistress of a general who he was imposing to get on the jet.

  17. Well Done Google and Frank, Fantastic Presentation, As soon as Frank said Breach, My mind wandered straight to the Movie "Breach Again an FBI Story, I liked it more than, Catch me if you can.

  18. Fantastic video. I had the chance to meet Frank early in my IT career when I was working at a bank processing center. He was then a security consultant at the time hired by our banks. He told me some of the stories you see in the movie. I didn't know really the depth of what he had done. They had told us he had done some forgery with bank systems, got arrested, and then was then working as a consultant. At that time, I thought they were some great stories and he added humor to make them entertaining. I had been a lithographer (Printer) so it was very interesting.

  19. At these work events there’s always one of the team just just wont get settled and sit down. Leave the tech alone and just listen to a great speaker

  20. Such a polite smart guy ! Good person and morals ! One wife and beautiful family – so why commit treason ? Why lie ? Why put anyone thru this ?

  21. I would respect him and many more if they just did their job ! I lost all respect for everyone ! This is the simplest thing ever ! It's unacceptable what you guys are doing and ultimately your making your own lives much worse !

  22. Wow ! Ethical ???? Love of country ??? Yeah right ! Bullshit ! Not anymore ! That's a straight up lie ! Treason is not ethical ! Sorry frank you lost me at that comment !

  23. How can you guys look at yourselves ? Y'all know I've said the same fucking thing everyday ! Treason ! That's exactly what's happening ! Y'all are committing treason ! Wow !!!!!!!!!!!! All these books and knowledge and experience and treason ! Treason & lies and treason ! All those people connections and treason ! Wow ! Unspeakable ! How can he stand up there knowing this is going on ? It's treason ! He's committing treason ! Why ? Omg ! Unspeakable ! No excuse for this to be happening ! Sorry he's gonna end up back in prison ! His son They have no choice anymore ! It's treason ! Treason ! Treason wow ! Quanico,Va get Declan – fix your dictionary and switch it from Hebrew and Arabic to English ! Your pathetic ! coca server in Virginia at the Air Force marine base ! Treason ! Wow !

  24. Damn!! A very good public speaker indeed!! The way he spoke kept u entertained, never a dull moment that wud make u want to do the head-bop 😎👊

  25. Did Google know he was going to talk positively about having a father and mother and negatively about divorce? I bet execs were unhappy.

  26. Such a great story and really useful advice. I loved the movie and now I'm listening to his book on Audible. Very good book!

  27. this right here shows exactly how he played so many people for fools at such a young age. this guy just knows what to say naturally. He almost never hesitates in saying something.

  28. It's B's he catches people and they do life no second chance just because of how much crime he committed how is that justice no one else gets a second chance look how far he came people don't understand people change life sentences are wrong

  29. He says he is not gifted, but he did not go to law school, studied for 6 weeks, and passed the Bar Exam. Not gifted at all…LOL.

  30. "In a one hour, three minute, and nine second Google Talk video on Youtube, over the course of two years, I conned 5 million people into believing I stopped conning 41 years ago. They never learn." – Frank Abagnale

  31. What it must be like to be desperate & wicked.. & without an inner moral compass… good grief. Is he schooling us, or making an amends, or just sharing his narc life here?

  32. Wow! What an admitted fraud! He should still be in prison…. impersonating a pilot, impersonating a doctor? How did this man run for president? He has somehow sucked every single cent he has ever supposedly earned from the American public! How?

  33. So much about this guy's past is from his mouth and not others. When you research him there is little evidence from other sources / people at the time or records of him doing many if any of what he claims – so what is true and what is not ? After all he made his past life on bullshitting people so what about the present ?

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