You may recognise the name Frank Abagnale from the 2002 movie “Catch Me If You Can,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the con man who convinces the world he’s everything from an airline pilot to a lawyer to a doctor.
Abagnale isn’t a fictional character. The movie is based on a portion of his life, before he was arrested at 21.
Today the 68-year-old former con man works as a fraud expert for the FBI and serves as an ambassador for the AARP Fraud Watch Network to raise awareness and prevention of cybercrime.
And, he tells AARP’s Hugh Delehanty, identity theft is “amazingly simple to do.”
He continues: “The truth is, your identity already has been stolen.”
But many Americans are blissfully unaware of this fact. A spring 2016 survey by security company IDT911 found that 63% of taxpayers figured identity theft “couldn’t happen to me,” and nearly 20% of those surveyed didn’t secure their wireless networks with a simple password.
Frankly, an identity thief doesn’t even need an unlocked network. According to Abagnale, one of the most recent scams he’s seen only requires that a victim write a single check. He tells the AARP:
One of the most popular scams is what they call account takeover. You write me a check and I simply go online to a check-printing service and order 200 checks with your account information. I might even put my own name and address on them. Most people don’t reconcile their bank accounts. By your next statement, I’ve already written checks that have cleared your account.