Frank Abagnale – Former Con Artist Extraordinaire – Catch Him If You Can – (This is Part 1 of 2)
The Accurate Source To Find Transcript To Frank Abagnale – Former Con Artist Extraordinaire – Catch Him If You Can.”
[Frank Abagnale – Former Con Artist Extraordinaire – Catch Him If You Can – (This is Part 1 of 2)]
Ladies and gentlemen, the real Frank Abagnale.
[Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away, if you can use some exotic booze, there’s a bar in far Bombay, come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away.]
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
Good evening. It’s my pleasure to be here this evening. Welcome all of you here. Normally, when I take the podium to speak, it is always about fraud and counterfeiting, identity theft, and white-collar related crime. So tonight, I’ve been asked to do something totally different than I normally do at the podium and that is to talk a little bit about my life on which the film “Catch Me If You Can” was made.
About 40 years ago, a journalist wrote a book about my life, he never met me. Some six, seven years ago, a great film director made a movie about my life, and he never met me. Both told the story from their point of view, so tonight, I thought I’d tell you the story from my point of view.
I was raised just north of New York City in Westchester County in a little town called Bronxville. I was actually one of four children in the family, the so-called middle child of the four.
I was educated there by the Christian Brothers of Ireland at a private catholic school called Iona in New Rochelle New York, where I went to school from kindergarten to high school. By the time, I reached the 10th grade at the age of 16, my parents, after 22 years of marriage, one day decided to get a divorce. Unlike most divorces, where the children were usually the first to know, my parents were very good about keeping that a secret.
I remember being in the 10th grade, when the Father walked in the classroom and asked the Brother to excuse me from class. When I came out in the hallway, the Father handed me my books and told me that one of the Brothers would drive me up to the county seat in White Plains, New York, where I would meet my parents, they would explain what was going on. I remember the Father – the Brother dropping me at the bottom of the steps and climbing the steps seeing a sign on the building that said “Family Court”, but really didn’t understand what that meant.
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
As I got into the building, I was ushered into the back of an immense courtroom, where my parents were standing before a judge. I couldn’t hear what the judge was saying nor my parents’ response, but eventually, the judge saw me at the back of the room, and he motioned me to approach the bench. I walked up to stand in between my parents. I distinctly remember that he never looked at me. Never acknowledged I was standing there, he just read from his papers and said that my parents were getting a divorce.
And because I was 16 years of age, I would need to tell the court, which parent I chose to live with. I started to cry, so I turned and ran out of the courtroom, the judge called for a 10-minute recess, but by the time my parents got outside, I was gone. My mother never saw me again for about seven years until I was a young adult, and contrary to the movie, my father never saw me nor ever spoke to me again.
In the mid-1960s, running away was a very popular thing for young people. A lot of them got caught up in Haight-Ashbury, the hippie scene, the drug scene. Instead, I took a few belongings from my home, packed them in a bag, boarded what was then the New Haven and Hartford Railroad for the short train ride down to Grand Central Terminal in New York. My father did own a stationary store, but actually in Manhattan, located on the corner of 40th and Madison, and still there today. Like all of us, we had to work in that store, so I made deliveries for my dad. I knew the city very well. So I started looking for the same type of work.
There were a lot of signs on the window stock boy, delivery boy, part time, I’d walk in and apply. “So tell me young man, how old are you?” 16. “How far did you go in high school?” 10th grade. “I’ll hire you.” I went to work for a small amount of money, few hours a day, but I soon realized that no one was going to pay me anymore money, and as long as people believed I was 16 years old, they weren’t going to pay me anymore money. So I decided to lie about my age. In 16, we had a driver’s license in New York. Back then, they didn’t have a photo on it, just an IBM card.
So I altered one digit of my date of birth. I was actually born in April of 1948, but I dropped that four, converted it to a three, and that made me 10 years older or 26 years old. I walked around applying for the same type of work, people gave me a little more money, few more hours, but even then it was difficult to make ends meet. One of the few things I had taken when I left home was a checkbook. My father had opened a checking account at a small community bank in Mount Vernon, New York. I had a little money in the account. So every so often, I’d write a check to supplement my income, $10, $15. Funds were there, checks were good, but it was my friends, my peers who would say to me, “You know, you are the only guy I know walks into a bank in the middle of Manhattan, you have no account there. You don’t know a soul. You talk to somebody behind a desk, and they okay your check. Oh, well, my checks are good. If I walked in that bank, they wouldn’t touch my check. You walk in, they don’t bat an eye.” Years later, reporters would say that that was my upbringing, mannerisms, dress, appearance, speech. Whatever it was, it was very easy to do. So consequently, when the money ran out, I kept writing those checks.
Of course, the check started to bounce, police were looking for me as a runaway, I thought maybe it was a good time to start thinking about leaving New York City, but I was quite apprehensive about going to Chicago, Miami. I wondered if they’d cash a New York check on a New York driver’s license in Miami as quickly as they did in Manhattan. I was walking up 42nd Street one afternoon about 5 o’clock in the evening, 16 years old, pondering all of these things, when I started to approach the front door of an old hotel that used to be there called The Commodore Hotel, now the Grand Hyatt. Just as I was about to get to the front door of the hotel, out stepped an Eastern Airline flight crew onto the sidewalk.
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
I couldn’t help but notice the captain, the co-pilot, the flight engineer, about three or four flight attendants dragging their bags to the curb to load them in the van to take them to the airport. They started loading the van, I thought to myself, that’s it, if I could pose as a pilot, I could travel all over the world for free. I probably could get just about anybody, anywhere to cash a check for me. So I walked the street a little further to 42nd and Park. I went to crossover, I heard a huge helicopter, I looked up and there was New York Airways landing on the roof of the Pan Am building. Pan Am, the nation’s flag carrier, the airline that flew around the world. I thought what a perfect airline to use.
So the next day, I placed a phone call to the Executive Corporate Office of Pan Am. When the switchboard was ringing, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say. When they answered, “Pan American Airlines, good morning, can I help you?” Yes, ma’am. I like to speak to somebody in the purchasing department. “Purchasing? One moment”, and the clerk came on and I say, yes sir, [you could help me]. My name is John Black. I’m a co-pilot with the company based out of San Francisco. I’ve been with the company about seven years, never had anything like this come up before.
“What’s the problem?” Well, we flew a trip in here yesterday, going out today. Yesterday, I sent my uniform out through the hotel to have it dry-cleaned. Now, the hotel and the cleaner say, they can’t find it. Here I am with a flight in about four hours, no uniform. “Don’t you have a spare uniform? Certainly, back home in San Francisco, but I’d never get it here in time for my flight. “Do you understand that this would cost you the price of a uniform, not the airline?” I understand. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”
And he came back and said, “My supervisor said you need to go down to the Well-Built Uniform Company on 5th Avenue, they’re our supplier.” Well, that’s exactly what I wanted to know. So I went down to the Well-Built Uniform Company, little fellow, Mr. Rosen fitted me out in the uniform. Back then, they were black gabardine, the three gold stripes on the arm, the grey hair. I certainly looked old enough to be the pilot. When he was all done, I said, “How much do I owe you?” “Well the uniform’s $286”. I said, “No problem, I’ll write you a check.”
He said, “No, we can’t take any checks”, “oh, well, then, I’ll just pay you cash”. “Oh, no, we can’t accept cash. You need to fill out this computer card. Then in these boxes, put your employee number and we bill this back under uniform allowance, comes out of your next Pan Am paycheck.” That’s even better. Go ahead and do that. I don’t know who paid for the uniform, but there were two airports in New York; LaGuardia and Kennedy. LaGuardia was about 20 minutes from Manhattan. Kennedy was about 50. So naturally, LaGuardia being the closer of the two, that’s where I went.
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
I spent most of the morning walking around LaGuardia trying to figure out now that I had this uniform, how the hell do you get on these planes? Well, I got a little hungry at lunchtime. So I walked in the luncheonette, sat down on the counter on the stool, ordered a sandwich. Moments later, a TWA crew walked in. Flight attendant sat in the booth, but the pilots were up at the counter on either side of me, captain right next to me. Now back before deregulation of the airlines, airline people thought of themselves as one big family. So they didn’t hesitate a moment to talk to each other. Captain kind of leaned over. “Hey young man, how’s Pan Am doing?” Doing just fine, captain. “Tell me, what’s Pan Am doing out here in LaGuardia? Pan Am doesn’t fly into LaGuardia. They only go into Kennedy.” Well, I picked up on that right away. “Yeah, we came into Kennedy, had a short layover, came over to visit some friends of mine, matter of fact, I’m on my way back to Kennedy now.”
“So tell me young man, what type of equipment are you on?” Now, airline people have a lot of jargon for things and one of them is they never call a plane, a plane or an aircraft. They call it equipment, and what type of equipment you’re on, meant what type of plane do you fly. Back then, a DC-8 or 707. Of course, I didn’t know that and I thought what type of equipment am I on? The equipment I’m on is a stool. They must mean what type of equipment is on the planes I fly. So I thought, well, they’ve got the wings, they’ve got the engine. They always had a sticker on the engine, who manufactured the engine. So I said “Yes, General Electric.” All three pilots kind of just stopped eating and leaned over. Captain said, “Oh really? What do you fly, washing machine?” So I knew I said the wrong thing. Out the door I went.
Everybody had an airline ID card. Plastic laminated card much like a state driver’s license today, and without the ID card, the uniform was worthless. I went back to Manhattan pretty discouraged thinking, where would I come up with a Pan American Airline Corporate ID? I was sitting in a hotel room. I noticed a big thick Manhattan Yellow Pages. I pulled them down on the bed, flipped them open and looked under the word “identification.” There were three or four pages of companies who made convention badges, metal badges, plastic badges, police badges, security badges. I started to call around and finally one company said, “Listen, most of those airline IDs manufactured by Polaroid 3M Company; need to call one of them.”
Finally got the 3M Company on the phone in Manhattan, “Yeah, we manufacture Pan Am’s identification system along with a number of other carriers, how come?” I said, “I tell you, I’m a purchasing officer for a major U.S. carrier. I’m in New York just for the afternoon, getting ready to expand our routes, hire a lot of new employees, go to a formal ID. We’re very impressed with the Pan Am format, wondered if I came by your sales office this afternoon briefly we could discuss quantity and price.” “By all means, come on by.”
So I went by dressed in a suit. Sales rep opened the book, “Yeah, we do United, Delta, Eastern, Pan Am.” “Pan Am, we like that format, wondered if you might have a sample, I could bring back.” “Sure, I’ll be right back.” And he brought me back a five by seven glossy piece of paper with a picture of an ID card blown up in the middle of it, someone else’s picture in the picture, John Doe for a name and in bold red ink across the front: “This is a sample only.” I said, “No, I’m afraid this won’t do. You know, I need to bring back an actual physical card and by the way, what is all this equipment on the floor?”
“Oh, now, we don’t just sell these cards. We sell the system; camera, laminate” I say “We have to buy all this?” “Absolutely.” “Well, tell you what, since we have to buy it all, why don’t you just demonstrate how it works and use me?” “Fine, have a seat right here.” Took my picture, made up the card, and I was going down the elevator studying the card. It had a blue border across the top, about a quarter of an inch in Pan Am’s color blue, but not a single thing on the card said Pan Am. No logo, no insignia, no name. This was a plastic card like a credit card. You couldn’t type on it. You couldn’t write on it. You couldn’t print on it. Discouraged, I put it in my pocket, headed back to the hotel.
As I was walking back, I noticed I had passed a hobby shop. So I turned around and walked back. “Excuse me sir, I see you sell a lot of models here, you sell models of commercial jetliners?” “Sure, over there.” And I bought a model of a Pan Am 707 cargo jet for about $2.40, took it back to my room, opened the box, threw all the parts out, but there at the bottom of the box was a sheet of decals that went on the model, and when you soaked them in a glass of water, the little Pan Am globe that would have went on the tail of the plastic plane, went perfect at the top of the plastic card. And the word “Pan Am” in the special styling of graphics that would have went on the fuselage, went perfect across the top of the card and the clear decal on the laminated plastic made a beautiful identification card.
Pan Am says they estimate that between the ages of 16 and 18, I flew well on more than 250 commercial aircraft in 26 countries logging almost a million miles for free. Pan Am says keep in mind that though Frank Abagnale did in fact pose as one of our pilots, he never once stepped on board one of our aircraft. That’s true. I never flew on Pan Am because I was afraid someone might say to me, “You know, I’m based in San Francisco. I’ve been out there 24 years. I don’t recall ever meeting you before.” Or someone might say, “You know, your ID card is not exactly like my ID card.” So instead, I flew on everyone else.
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
If I wanted to go somewhere, I literally just walked out to the airport and looked on the board, United Flight 800 to Chicago. Then I went downstairs to the door marked “United Operations” and walked in. The operations clerk, “Hey, Pan Am, what can we do for you?” “I wonder if the jump seat’s open on 800. I need to dead-head to Chicago?” “Jump seat, it’s open this evening.” “I like to get a pink slip pass.” And I’d give my ID; write me out a pass; I’d walk out, hand it to the flight attendant, she’d open the door to the cockpit and I’d step in. There you had a captain, a co-pilot, a flight engineer, and the seat behind the captain called the “jump seat” where pilots “dead-head” on company time.
Now, because pilots loved to talk shop, once you picked up that jargon, it was the same conversation over and over and over. So I just step on board “Evening gentleman, Bob Davis, be riding to Chicago.” On the taxi out, always the same question. “So Bob, how long you’ve been with Pan Am?” “Been flying about seven years.” “What position you fly?” “Right seat.” Which was airline terminology for a co-pilot. “What type of equipment are you on?” I had that one down, perfect. Matter of fact, whatever they flew, I didn’t fly. So I had no problems with that.
And when we’d arrive in Chicago, I’d go by the Pan Am ticket counter, but just enough to get the attention of the passenger service rep. “Yes sir, can I help you?” “Excuse me, where do we lay over here? I had a dead-head of trip for somebody got ill, never laid over in Chicago. “Sir, we use The Palmer House Hilton downtown, catch the crew bus, lower level, Door 3 out.” I’d go down the Palmer House Hilton, walk in and on the corner of the registration desk, was a little sign said, “Airline Crews.” That was a three-ring binder, you signed in, referenced your flight number, showed your ID; they’d give me a key, I’d stay two or three days, and Pan Am would be direct-billed for my room and my meals.
I also could cash a personal check up to a $100 at the hotel, because I was an employee of the airline. The airline had a contract with the hotel and they’d cash your check. But then I found out that every airline honors every other airline employee’s personal check, a reciprocal agreement still practiced today in 2009. So at the Austin airport today, an American flight attendant can walk up to a Delta ticket counter, show her American ID, and cash a personal check up to a $100 and vice versa.
Of course, when I found that out, I’d go out to JFK or LAX, only I’d go to everybody, Northeast, National, KLM, Air France. It’d take me a good eight hours stopping at every building at every counter. By the time I got all the way around the other end of the airport, at least eight hours had gone by and what do you have in eight hours? Shift change, new people. So I’d go all the way back around the other way. I made a great deal of money. The only reason I quit at 18 is the FBI issued a John Doe warrant for interstate transportation of fraudulent checks. The John Doe warrant meant the FBI didn’t know my identity. In the warrant, the FBI said, based on interviews with people I had contact with, I was approximately 30 years old. I was 18. I had a great deal of money, so I hung the uniform up and moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
In Atlanta, I moved into a very swank singles complex that had just been built there called the Riverbend Apartments. On the application for the lease, there were many questions for a teenage boy. One of them was occupation. I began to write down airline pilot, but the next question said employed by, supervisor’s name, telephone contact. I thought to myself, “I’ll need to come up with something that would be impossible to check out, yet something that would justify why I drive an expensive car, wear expensive clothes, don’t work much.” So I wrote down the word “doctor.” First thing came to my mind, nothing else, but had a very inquisitive apartment manager.
“Oh, I see here you’re a doctor.” “Yes ma’am.” “What type of doctor are you?” “Well I’m a – I’m a medical doctor. However, I’m not practicing medicine right now. I left my practice out in Los Angeles to come to Atlanta to invest in some real estate. I won’t be practicing for a while.” “How interesting? Well tell me, what type of medical doctor are you?” And I figured being a singles complex; pediatrician would be pretty safe. So I moved in, Dr. Frank Williams, pediatrician.
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
Everybody called me doc. Always the typical questions at the pool. “So doc, where’d you go to medical school?” “Columbia University, New York.” “Where did you serve your internship?” “Harvard Children’s Hospital, out in LA.” Once in a while, when the guys would come by; “Hey, Paul.” “Hey doc, look at my leg. I don’t know what I did to my leg, look.” “Paul, I can’t examine your leg. You need to go to your own doctor and have them look at that.” When the girls came by, I always gave them a thorough examination and sent them on their way. I was young, but not stupid. I was living there about two or three months. Everything was going great.
One afternoon there was a knock on the door, very distinguished gentleman, mid 50s standing there. “Yes sir, can I help you?” “You are Dr. Williams?” “Yes.” “My name is Gordon, just moved into the apartment below, wanted to come up and introduce myself.” “Oh, new neighbor; come on in.” “Not only a new neighbor. I understand you’re a pediatrician.” “Yes.” “I’m the chief resident pediatrician of the County Hospital up the street.” Dr. Gordon was going through a divorce. He just separated from his wife. He was very upset, very lonely. Every day on the way to the car, out to the pool, the tennis court, he’d stop me. After a minute or two about the weather, he’d start speaking medical terminology. Not being able to converse with him, I in turn would cut him short, but I knew eventually, he’d get suspicious.
Determined not to move, every day I went to Emory University’s Medical Library. Every day I read the daily journals from Johns Hopkins, from the Mayo Clinic. Every day I took a certain part of the journal, memorized to detail, and every night when Dr. Gordon pulled in his parking slot, literally, every night without exception, I was sitting on his doorstep. “Hey doc, hear about this new theory they are using up at Mayo?” “What is it tonight?” Aggravated, he’d go into his apartment. I’d follow him. He’d go in his bedroom to get undressed, I’d go in his bedroom, sit on the edge of the bed. Be in the bathroom, I’d talk through the door. Be in the kitchen, I’d follow him back and forth. Pretty soon he’d come home, “Hey doc, I don’t have time to talk to you right now. I got to go.” Guy started to avoid me, which is exactly what I wanted.
One afternoon I received a call from the hospital administrator who is not a physician, but the administrator of the hospital, “Dr. Gordon suggested I give you a call. He said you’d be more than happy to help us out.” “What’s the problem?” “On the midnight to eight shift, I have a resident supervisor, number of interns; nurses on a shift, just been notified of a death in his family. He’s returning to the West Coast tomorrow for about two weeks, and Georgia Law requires a house doctor on duty to be a full practitioner or a specialist. Dr. Gordon suggested you had a great deal of free time. You’d be more than happy to cover the shift in an administrative capacity.”
“There’s no way I could do that.” “Why not?” “I’m not licensed to practice medicine in the State of Georgia, just the State of California, where I hold residency, all the red tape for 10 days?” “No red tape. We’ll bring it before the Medical Review Board tomorrow morning. They’ll issue a temporary certificate. You can start tomorrow night.” Now, being one who hates to pass up a challenge, I couldn’t help but give it a shot. So I went up to the hospital. During my entire stay there, not one person doubted for a second I was not a doctor. When the doctor returned, I left the hospital.
I did pass the bar in the state of Louisiana, not in two weeks as the movie implies, but in eight weeks by taking the eight-week prep course for the bar. At the time, actually, Louisiana did not require a law degree to take the bar. Louisiana practices their law under the French Napoleonic Criminal Code of Procedure. I studied the code, took the bar, passed the bar, went to work for then Attorney General P.F. Grimion in the Civil Division of a state court, where I spent about a year. No one the wiser, on my own, I resigned and left.
[Frank Abagnale] Source: LYBIO.net
A lot of people say, “you know, it’s not so much the people you impersonated as a teenage boy as it is the crimes you perpetrated as a teenage boy.” Well, I did a lot of things that had just never been done before, so they got a lot of attention.
The K12 Facilities Summit and The K12 Technology Summit are produced by CraigMichaels, Inc. based in New York, NY.
For more information visit: craigmichaelsinc.com
Frank Abagnale – Former Con Artist Extraordinaire – Catch Him If You Can. Talk a little bit about my life on which the film “Catch Me If You Can” was made. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.