George Mason Law School

Caught him: Abagnale reflects on his past

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September 14, 2007

4:11 AM

The unbelievable story Leonardo DiCaprio depicted in Steven Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” was a surprisingly accurate account of infamous con artist Frank Abagnale Jr.’s conquests, from the one million miles he flew for free, to the millions of dollars that he conned from major banks in 26 countries during a five year period.

p. Abagnale himself related these stories with amusement, talking fast and listing his tricks as if they were common teenage activities. He recounted his years as a co-pilot for Pan-Am airlines, then a California pediatrician, then as a Harvard Law School graduate on the bar in Louisiana, just to name a few.
The speech, however, was not entirely filled with entertaining anecdotes. Abagnale noted that “it was lonely,” and that he was not proud of his youth.

p. In between stories of fraudulent checks and fake IDs, Abagnale related the harder side of life.

p. “I never went to a senior prom, a high school football game or even had a relationship with someone my own age.”

p. Abagnale said that he was pleased with Spielberg’s portrayal of his young self.

p. “[Spielberg] went out of his way not to glorify the things that I did, and I appreciated that.”

p. Abagnale seemed intent on doing the same. Though his stories were entertaining and his intelligence was obvious, he made it clear that he was still trying to reconcile his past actions.

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