"Catch Me If You Can" subject speaks in Columbia about ID theft - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

"Catch Me If You Can" subject speaks in Columbia about identity theft

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - He is the man behind many of the security features you see on your checks and even your money. Frank Abagnale is the authority on white collar crimes, and if that name sounds familiar, it's because his life was re-created in the 2003 film "Catch Me If You Can."

Now Abagnale uses his wisdom to protect you. It's a life made for a movie, and Frank Abagnale doesn't mind talking about it.

"I impersonated an airline pilot for two years because I could travel around the world for free and stay in hotels for free," Abagnale said. "Then I was doctor in a hospital in Georgia. I was a lawyer in Louisiana and passed the bar. I wrote about $2.5 million in bad checks before I was 21."

"Catch Me if you Can" details how the young Frank Abagnale eluded the FBI. Now years later and working for the bureau, the older and reformed Abagnale no longer takes -- he teaches.

"It's an honor and a pleasure to be able to serve my country through the FBI," Abagnale said.

On Wednesday, he spoke to members of the FBI Infraguard Program, a partnership between private citizens and the FBI to help protect the country's infrastructure against cyber crimes.

"I think it's relevant to everybody," said Richland County Sheriff's Major Jim Stewart, who was in the seminar.

Abagnale explained that identity theft is one of the most common crimes right now. He says the best way to protect yourself is to keep your information personal.

"I, we, others at the Sheriff's Department can pass this same information on and repeat it," said Stewart.

"The prevention of it is what we would like to be more involved in, than actually catching someone who's doing it," said Dave Thomas, South Carolina's FBI Special Agent in Charge.

Abagnale now lives in Charleston.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved.

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