Frank Abagnale Jr.
Frank Abagnale Jr, made famous in the movie Catch Me If You Can, began his art at a young age. He started with bank fraud at the age of sixteen. He would soon be pulling in thousands of dollars. His earliest scams were fairly basic, including drawing money from his overdrawn (withdraw money on credit) account, printing his own copies of checks and cashing them, and printing his account number on other people’s blank deposit slips so that the money was deposited into his account and not the persons’. But when the banks caught on, he took his money and moved on.
Later Abagnale traveled the world for free by impersonating a Pan Am pilot. To be a pilot, he forged ID cards, an FAA pilot’s certificate, and a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. To look like a pilot, he obtained a pilot’s uniform by claiming that the dry cleaners had lost his. He kept up the charade for two years, but after nearly being caught, he disappeared again.
Later he became "Frank Connors" the pediatrician at a Georgia Hospital. His job as temporary resident supervisor didn’t require him to perform any medical activities, but when some of his duties required medical expertise, he told the interns and nurses to do it for him. He was replaced after eleven months.
After being replaced Abagnale went back to being a "pilot" for a while. As a pilot, he briefly dated a flight attendant and told her that he had been a Harvard Law student. Soon after, she introduced him to a lawyer friend of hers, and he offered him a chance to apply. So Abagnale forged a Harvard law transcript, passed the Louisiana bar exam (after two failed attempts), and got the job. He didn’t do much legal work; he spent most of his time running errands. But after eight months, he resigned because a worker there, who actually was a Harvard graduate, became suspicious and started digging for the truth.
In 1969, Abagnale was caught in France and imprisoned. After a year and a half of serving time in various countries, he was extradited back to the US where he was imprisoned for five years. He was then released under the condition that he would help the government fight fraud. The main problem for him was that he couldn’t find legitimate work because of his previous record. But soon he found success in the security consultant field and eventually founded Abagnale & Associates, which educated business on fraud and fraud protection.
Since then Abagnale has earned enough to pay back all the money he stole, and plenty more to live a good life. He was a wife and three children.
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Robert Hendy-Freegard (born 3/1/1971)
Robert Hendy-Freegard is famous for his numerous impersonations MI5 agents. In 1992 while working at a pub, he befriended three students from a nearby college. To gain their trust, he told them that he was an undercover MI5 agent investigating an Irish Republican Army cell in the school and he needed their help. Following that, he asked the man in the group to do strange tasks during school to alienate himself from his friends and prove his loyalty to Freegard. Soon, Freegard claimed that his "cover was blown" and they all had to go into hiding.
Later, when they had gone into hiding, Freegard told them some "classified information" and told them to sever all ties with friends and family in order to protect them. They soon moved to a secluded house, where the three never left for months, and gave all their money to Freegard.
Eventually, Freegard let them leave, but they were sworn to secrecy and they sent most of their money to him so he could handle it. Years after he
continued to pull similar cons on others, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in 2002, he was caught in a sting planned by the Scotland Yard and the FBI.
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Eduardo de Valfierno
He is famous for stealing the Mona Lisa. Basically, he hired and paid people who worked in the museum to steal and hide the painting. Before the painting was stolen,
Valfierno hired a man to create six copies of the painting, and had them shipped to six buyers, each of whom thought he had the actual painting. When the painting was stolen,
Valfierno disappeared with his money, and man who had stolen the painting tried to sell it, but was caught after he tried to sell the painting.
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Victor Lustig (born 1/4/1890)
One of Lustig’s first cons (albeit not the one he is most famous for) took place on cruise ships. He would claim that he had a device that printed a $100 bill every six hours, and people would pay up to $30,000 for the device. But eighteen hours later, after the device "printed" two more $100 bills and finally a blank sheet of paper, people would realized they were duped and search for Lustig, only to find that he had disappeared when the ship had docked.
But Lustig is most famous for "selling" the Eiffel Tower in 1925. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be a grand spectacle for those entering the World Fair and not a permanent landmark. It had done its purpose, but the gigantic tower was still there. In fact, it was an expensive burden to the city. Lustig took advantage of that. He forged government stationary and invited six scrap metal dealers. He posed as the "Deputy Director Genearl of the Ministry of Posts & Telegraphs" and told the men that the government couldn’t continue to maintain the tower, so it was his job to sell the rights to dismantling the tower and sell the scrap metal. The next day, Lustig accepted a bid from one of the dealers, took the money, and disappeared.
In 1934, Lustig was arrested and sent to Alcatraz for 20 years, where he died of pneumonia.
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George C. Parker (1870)
He is most famous for "selling" New York public landmarks to unknowing tourists. For years, he sold the same few
landmarks over and over (especially the Brooklyn Bridge) and made a fortune. He always posed as some sort of government official with documents that showed he was the owner (which were forged), and sold the documents (thus the landmark as well)
for huge sums of money.
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