Me If You Can !
By Maxwell Pereira
A while ago, on my televion screen I stumbled on to an interesting
movie and watched it: 'Catch me if you can!' starring Leonardo
di Caprio. The film, set in the 1960s, was regarding conman Frank
Abagnale, who as a teenager fooled people into thinking he was
a Pan Am pilot, masqueraded as a paediatrician, and as a professor
despite dropping out of high school at 15
.. and cashed bogus
cheques to the tune of $2.5m in 26 countries - leading to his
memoirs becoming the inspiration for this hit movie. In a five
year spree of forgery, fraud and impersonation, this American
- the subject matter of the film I watched, had earned for himself
a reputation as America's most gifted con man.
Abagnale is no longer a crook. His life as a con man ended when
the French police eventually caught up with him at the age of
21. Arrested and sentenced to 12 years jail at the end of the
60's, the 26 year old had served a total of just five years in
French, Swedish and American prisons, before he was given a second
chance by the American government - early release in return for
his skill and expertise. He was released on the condition that
he would help the US government fight fraud - in particular, identity
the last 25 years as a secure document consultant to the FBI and
thousands of international corporations and businesses around
the world - including the company that produces Australia's passports
and credit cards, Abagnale is now known as one of the world's
leading experts on document fraud.
indicate that in the US there were 750,000 victims of identity
theft and related consequences in the year 2000, which number
soared to 9.9m, with victims losing some $47.5 billion (£25.25
billion) by end of 2004. Compared to this, England was still scratching
the surface despite a 500 per cent growth over the lasr five years.
There were 119,000 cases in 2004 compared with just 20,000 in
1999. In India, may be scamsters are still to wake up to the fact
that they can cash in on this avenue.
our own local headlines told us about "skimming", where
one's plastic card details are nabbed by a fraudster to clone
and use. One has also read about "phishing", which is
to dupe people into giving bank details over the internet or phone.
But identity fraud is not just a case of somebody stealing an
identity simply to open a credit card and run up a bill of a couple
of thousand dollars or rupees.
con men now are known to operate on the definite premise that
if one can get a credit card in somebody's name, they can go to
a finance company and get a loan in someone else's name. If they
can get a loan, they can get a car. If they can get a car then
they can get a mortgage in the assumed name.
are several types of scam used by fraudsters, but one of the most
popular in America targets people with little credit - the elderly.
Identity thieves drive through neighbourhoods to locate where
an old person lives. They may see an elderly worthy pottering
in the garden. On which, they can jot down the address and use
the internet to find out who lives there and whether they have
a mortgage on the house. If there is no mortgage they can borrow
against the property posing as the owner. In about a month's time
the pensioner will find he has a mortgage and will have to try
to persuade his bank it wasn't he that took the loan out.
today need to watch out for phone calls from someone who claims
to have been at college with them. Before one realised it, they
would have your name, place of work, birthday and address. Technological
advances continue to make the life of an identity thief a lot
easier. No longer do con men have to 'talk the talk' and 'walk
the walk' - it can all be done from a hotel room anywhere in the
computer, scanner and printer are all a scamster needs. One could
log onto an airline's website for the logo to scan; then phone
the airline to say "I need to wire some money" to them,
to easily make them give the bank and account details. A copy
of the airline's report and accounts will have copies of the chairman
and chief executive signatures which can
also be scanned. Within 15 minutes one could forge a beautiful
cheque and it would be days before anyone finds out about it.
One could do it all from a hotel room, without any need for the
charm, the spiel and the dress sense.
vital tips with interviewers, Abagnale claims he can get 22 pieces
of personal private information on a person by simply knowing
their address. That within a couple of hours he could find out
the person's salary details, bank account numbers, marital status
and national insurance number. But actually, that he needs only
three pieces of information to get credit in someone's name -
their name, date of birth and national insurance number.
professional fraudster Frank Abagnale, today a Security Consultant
par excellence, is trying to convince the public that identity
theft is going to be a major problem for thousands of people.
He does this as his livelihood. He gives lectures and has written
several books on the subject. He is also the author of 'Catch
Me If You Can' published by Random House.
words: dated 10.05.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725
Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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