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Remember when you got your identity stolen?

Me neither.

But it’s happened to all of us.

“Everyone in America has had their identity stolen already,” Frank Abagnale said. He would know. He’s a con artist.

Well, he used to be.

He’s retired.

But 50 years ago, Frank was one of the most wanted men in the U.S.

He served time in jail. First in France. Then Sweden. Then the U.S.

He was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

“I served four,” he said.

“Why’d you only serve four?”

“When I was 26 years old, the government offered to take me out of prison,” he said. The FBI came to him with a deal.

“Was it satisfying to help the FBI solve cases?” I asked.

His answer was no.

“I know people would love for me to say, ‘Oh, I was born again… prison rehabilitated me. I saw the light.’ But I don’t think I was any different than the guy who went into prison. I was an opportunist. So I took the opportunity and went out.”

He changed eventually.

He met a woman. And fell in love.

But she didn’t know who Frank really was. She only knew his undercover agent persona.

“So when it was over, I broke protocol,” he said.

And told her who he really was… Frank Abagnale. The con artist.

He asked her to marry him. She said yes. They’ve been together for 43 years.

He built a new life. And a new career.

Frank is living PROOF that anyone can start over.

He’s a consultant for banks, the government, AARP, etc.

And he’s written five books.

The latest is “Scam Me If You Can: Simple Strategies to Outsmart Today’s Rip-off Artists.”

I had Frank tell me all his stories. Stealing identities. Stealing money. Getting arrested. Falling in love…

But here’s the question I think we all need the most:

I asked him, “Right now, if you were 18 years old and planning a new scam… what would you do?”

  • Hear how you can claim a free copy of my brand new book, “The Side Hustle Bible” [0:00]
  • Episode preview [0:52]
  • I introduce Frank Abagnale, author of “Catch Me If You Can” and his new book, “Scam Me If You Can,” which is basically an encyclopedia for scams
  • happening every day [4:36]
  • Why millenials are scammed more often than seniors… but seniors lose more money in scams [6:38]
  • The scams you’ll learn about in today’s episode. And in Frank’s book: identity theft, charity scams, loan scams, romance scams, investment scams, etc. [9:14]
  • The most current scam “that a lot of people are falling for.” [9:59]
  • How to reduce your credit card debt [10:50]
  • The two sources Frank uses to avoid scams: the State Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau [11:55]
  • Charity scams: How they get you… and how to avoid it them [14:30]
  • “You can’t rely on the police. You can’t rely on the government. You can’t rely on your bank,” Frank said. “You have to be a little smarter consumer. You have to investigate a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with being skeptical. It’s a virtue.” [15:54]
  • Frank’s podcast, The Perfect Scam, is proof that anybody can get scammed. Two episodes show FBI agents getting scammed. And another episode shows a chief editor at TIME Magazine getting scammed [16:58]
  • “The most sophisticated scams are the most amateur scams. Anyone can fall for them.”–Frank Abagnale [18:02]
  • Why senior citizens don’t report scams [18:14]
  • How romance scams happen [18:56]
  • Some basic guidelines to follow: A) Wait 24 hours before making an important decision and B) find a trusted third party to verify someone is who they say they are [21:30]
  • The two red flags to look for when identifying a scam [22:44]
  • I ask Frank about his past as a con artist [23:58]
  • Why Frank ran away from home and ended up on the streets of New York City at 16 years old [24:54]
  • Frank’s first scam [26:10]
  • Why Frank “had no fear of getting caught” [27:23]
  • The story of how Frank started personating pilots [27:32]
  • How Frank “got away with about $40,000 in 24 hours.” [28:13]
  • Another scam: Frank rented a security guard costume. And put up a sign that said “Nightbox Out of Order. Please Leave Deposits with Guard on Duty.” He got about $35,000 in cash that night [35:06]
  • How social engineering made Frank a successful scammer [37:22]
  • Frank spent years impersonating a pilot. And flew millions of miles for free. Hear how he tricked someone into selling him a uniform [38:25]
  • How Frank convinced other pilots into believing he was an actual pilot [41:49]
  • Frank got close to getting caught. More than once. Hear how he talked his way out of trouble [43:16]
  • How today’s scammers use social engineering to steal your social security number [44:32]
  • Social engineering = getting information out of you that you think nothing about [45:30]
  • The term con man stands for “confidence man.” Meaning you had to gain people’s confidence. Frank shares his tricks for getting people to trust him back in the day [45:36]
  • What makes today’s scams so much scarier than scams of the past [46:20]
  • Besides pretending to be a pilot, Frank also posed as a doctor. And a lawyer. I asked about the validation he got from convincing people he was these things [47:03]
  • How he avoided getting caught… [50:16]
  • Frank’s book, “Catch Me If You Can,” became the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie by the same name. Leonardo Dicaprio played Frank Abagnale. Leo said, “Frank Abagnale was probably the greatest actor that ever lived. Because, every single day, he got up in the morning and took on a role until he went to sleep at night. Then he’d get up the next morning and take on another role.” [50:50]
  • Why Frank always had to make sure everyone liked him. He called it “a chameleon existence.” [51:15]
  • What happened when Frank got caught… [51:49]
  • How falling in love made Frank want to change for the better [53:06]
  • Proof you can start over…[54:08]
  • The technology Frank helped the FBI develop that helps protect your identity and prevent fraud [54:33]
  • Why I don’t click on links people send me [55:40]
  • Why Frank thinks we need to develop software that will eliminate the need for passwords [56:13]
  • I ask Frank, “If you were 18 years old right now, how would you scam people today?” [59:46]
  • “Everyone in America has had their identity stolen already,” Frank said. “Including myself. Because we know that statistically over a billion identities have been stolen. There’s only 340 million people who live in the country, including babies and children. So you have to assume your identity has already been stolen. The question is, will they ever use yours?” [1:01:14]
  • What hackers look for… [1:01:42]
  • How to identify the weak spots in your own security [1:03:23]
  • “What I have found in my career is that we invent a lot of great technologies without ever going to the final step,” Frank said. “And the final step is to ask the simple question, ‘How would someone use this in a negative way?’ Companies are only interested in ‘What’s my return on investment?’ And ‘How quick can I get to the marketplace with this product?’ Instead of saying, ‘How can I prevent someone from misusing it?’” [1:03:56]
  • Frank sees things we don’t see. When he goes to a store, he sees the scams happening right in front of him. Hear how [1:04:36]
  • There are about 5,000 phishing emails every day. And the losses are about $12 billion a year. Frank shares a couple he’s seen. And why it’s so scary [1:06:15]
  • Tip: Don’t post a picture of yourself on vacation WHILE you’re on vacation. [1:08:30]
  • Why what you post on social media matters [1:08:40]
  • “Information is always retrievable. When people say to me, ‘I have a fool-proof system,’ I say, ‘That’s a ridiculous statement.’ Because if you believe you have a fool-proof system, you fail to take into consideration the creativity of fools.”–Frank Abagnale [1:09:54]
  • The importance of understanding the risk of social media [1:10:15]
  • I ask Frank about facial recognition tools [1:11:41]
  • “We make it so easy for people to steal from us and steal our information.”–Frank Abagnale [1:13:16]
  • A friend of mine almost got scammed recently. I tell Frank the story [1:13:45]
  • The risk of giving out your wire information… [1:14:29]
  • Why you should never cash random checks sent to you in the mail [1:16:35]
  • “If you’re going to part with money, especially a lot of money, or you’re going to give someone a whole lot of information about yourself, it’s worth taking a couple of minutes to make sure that’s a legitimate request.”—Frank Abagnale [1:18:20]
  • Watch out for these voice-activated devices… [1:18:49]
  • I recommend Frank’s new book, “Scam Me If You Can.” And why it’s going to make me change [1:20:17]
  • Why Tom Hanks was obsessed with Frank’s book “The Art of the Steal” [1:21:28]
  • Why Frank epitomizes the word “genius” [1:22:44]
  • My last question is about counterfeit money. And the current state of forgery [1:23:15]
  • I thank Frank for joining me on the podcast [1:27:26]


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