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The Perfect Scam

 

George and Sandra's Accident Scam

On a typical afternoon drive, George and Sandra are confronted by a driver who claims they hit his car

The perfect scam aarp podcast

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George and Sandra are retirees in Santa Monica, Calif. On a typical afternoon drive, they are confronted by a driver who claims George and Sandra hit his car. He demands that they pull over, and when a second car pulls up claiming to be “the witness” of the accident, George and Sandra are shocked and surprised. But these two aren’t gullible. They tell the drivers to follow them, and when the fraudsters realize they are being taken to the police station, they quickly drive away. 

TPS quote ep 8

TIPS: Intimidation and urgency are red flags that someone is trying to scam you. Go to the police station or call the police if you feel unsafe. If you are in an accident have an impartial professional assess the damage.  

[00:00:01] HOST: Coming
up on this episode of AARP's Perfect Scam.

[00:00:05] I pulled
into a lane and I saw them behind me, then they raced ahead of me. I made a
right hand turn and they raced ahead of me, said "You hit me! And I have a
wife and two kids in the car." And they jumped out and then there's
another guy in there with tattoos.

[00:00:19] She was out
alone, by the way, Will.

[00:00:20] I was alone.


[00:00:22] HOST: Not
all scam artists come in the form on anonymous calls or mysterious emails. Some
scammers operate in broad daylight. On today's episode, we bring you the story
of George and Sandra targeted by scammers in the middle of the day on an LA
street. It might not be where you’d expect to get scammed, but as we've
learned, sometimes scammers can strike pretty much anywhere, anytime, and often
when you're not expecting it. For The Perfect Scam, I'm your host, Will
Johnson, and I'd like to welcome back my cohost and AARP's Fraud Watch Network
Ambassador, Frank Abagnale, Frank.

[00:00:54] Frank
Abagnale: Great to be with you, Will. Thanks.

[00:00:55] HOST: Good
to have you back in the studio with us, talking about frauds and scams, but
first, as we like to do, we like to ask Frank questions. I should just call
this part of the show, Ask Frank Questions. You spent liked 16 to 21, life of
crime, if I can call it that. You did some time, you got out, you got married
and you've been with the FBI now for how many years?

[00:01:15] Frank
Abagnale: Frank Abagnale: 41.

[00:01:15] HOST: 41
years. And over that time, when you were, I guess in your 20s it was you, not
long after you had gotten out of prison in Atlanta and gone to work for the
FBI, you told me a little bit about this before we taped today's show, but you
were on the Today Show and then Johnny Carson noticed you?

[00:01:33] Frank
Abagnale: Yeah that's...

[00:01:33] HOST: Can we
talk about this, because I think it's really cool.

[00:01:36] Frank
Abagnale: That's how the Catch Me If You Can, the movie really all started is I
was on the Today Show back with Tom Brokaw back in the '70s, and I was actually
on there talking about counterfeit money and, so we were talking about how to
spot a counterfeit bill. It was Christmastime and we were doing this segment
about it and I remember, I had a bunch of, they had a bunch of bills in back of
me that were counterfeit, and towards the end of the segment, Tom Brokaw said,
"Before I close," he said, "you come to the government with a kind
of an unusual background. Will you tell me a little bit about that?" So, I
started to say about how I, how it all came about, and Johnny Carson was
watching it, so he sent out a thing and told them to send me that tape. So, he
watched the tape and the next thing, I got a phone call from Johnny Carson's
assistant that said he would like to have you on the show. And I'm going, to
talk about what? Well he'd like you talk a little bit about your life. And I
said, "Well what's, what's involved with that?" "Well you need
to come out for an interview, we don't pay for that, so you’d have to come out
on your own expense. If we decide to have you on the show and we invite you
back we will pay your travel expenses." And I said, I just said you know,
"I'm out there all the time. Can I come by for an interview when I'm out
there?" Said, of course. I went out and did the interview, and they
invited me on the show. And it was the first of 9 times I was on Johnny Carson,
but the first night I went on, I did take my wife with me because it was such a
big event, and we, she was sitting in the green room, the Pointer Sisters were
on, they were at the top of the game then...

[00:03:01] HOST: This
was the '70s, right?

[00:03:02] Frank
Abagnale: Right, and they were all in their gowns and ready to come on, and I
thought I'd be on about 5 or 6 minutes, and they, Johnny Carson, after the
first segment said, we're going to go with the rest of the show with him, so
the Pointer Sisters never got on, and I was on the show. Well after that, they
got like 300 calls asking where can I buy this book? Only the switchboard at
NBC saying there is no book, he was just talking about his life. So, it was
Johnny Carson who really said to me, you need to write a book about your life
and you need to write it now, not when you're 70, and so, Catch Me If You Can
came from being on the Tonight Show.

[00:03:38] HOST: And
did Spielberg come across you from the Tonight Show or the book or...

[00:03:41] Frank
Abagnale: From the Tonight Show is where he originally came across the story
and then of course later the book, and so Spielberg, being the wonderful man
that he is, he remembered where that all started. So on the night that he
finished the final edit on the movie, he had a DVD burned and he signed it and
sent it over to Johnny Carson's home and saying to him, "This would not be
possible had it not been for you," and he signed it and sent it to his
house. So, he was one of the first people actually to get to see the movie.

[00:04:07] HOST: It's
an amazing story just how you all of a sudden realized that, or I'm guessing,
all of a sudden but then over time also that you realized that your story had
some real impact on, on people who were learning about it and also just wildly
entertaining.

[00:04:20] Frank
Abagnale: Yeah, and I was kind of the opposite. I was more about, I don't want
anybody to know this, you know, I'm trying to hide my past. I don't want
anybody to know who I am or what I did and, so it was the opposite.

[00:04:30] HOST: It
must have been a relief almost to finally realize you could just talk about it
and accept that you were moving on?

[00:04:34] Frank
Abagnale: Yeah, I don't know that I've handled fame very well because I don't
like the fact that everybody knows who I am, and all that. That's very
difficult to deal with, and I think to myself, if I deal with it on such a
small level, what does someone like a Leonardo DiCaprio or somebody like that
have to deal with every day of, of their life? I think it would be really,
really tough to be that famous and that well known to where everyone knows who
you are, no matter where you go and what you do.

[00:04:59] HOST: Yeah.
Alright, well let's get into today's story and again, a couple out in Santa
Monica, California, and a lot of the scams we cover on the show here take place
over the phone, over the internet, they're faceless if you will, this one is up
close and in person, and because the potential scam victims come face-to-face
with the scammers, it has an added degree of danger to it. On today's episode,
meet George and his wife, Sandra.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:05:24] HOST: Hi,
George. This is Will at AARP, Will Johnson, how are you?

[00:05:28] George: Oh
fine, for a 92-year-old war veteran from World War II. We're doing well.

[00:05:33] HOST:
That's, you sound great for a 92-year-old war veteran.

[00:05:36] HOST: George
and Sandra are both retired. Not content sitting at home, they volunteer
together at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

[00:05:43] HOST: And
how long have you two been married?

[00:05:44] Sandra: Four
years. We're newlyweds.

[00:05:47] HOST:
Congratulations.

[00:05:47] George:
We're the widow and widower.

[00:05:48] HOST:
That's, well congratulations. As newlyweds. And George, you're 92, Sandra like
25?

[00:05:53] Sandra:
(laugh) No, I'm 79.

[00:05:57] HOST: After
one of their volunteer days at the cemetery, they were driving home on a
typical, beautiful blue sky, Santa Monica afternoon, windows rolled down.

[00:06:04] George: And
suddenly in, on the passenger side, I looked out and this man with a beard sort
of, I would say youngish, yelled out, go ahead, hon, and say what, what did he
yell out?

[00:06:19] Sandra: He
said, "You hit me! And I have a witness." And I said, "I did not
hit you," and I kept driving, and then this other white Maserati they...

[00:06:27] George:
Yeah, while we're driving...

[00:06:30] Sandra: And says,
"I saw that."

[00:06:32] George: So
he saw that, and I said, "We're, we're going to go to the police
station."

[00:06:37] HOST: So,
George, you were smart enough to probably say okay, these, these bearded
fellows are connected and this is a scam.

[00:06:43] George: It
certainly looked like that.

[00:06:45] Sandra:
Yeah, actually said to them, this is a scam.

[00:06:48] George: What
they saw was two older people in a Lexus, what we had our license plate with
the Disabled Handicap on the license plate.

[00:06:59] But we knew
exactly where the police station was, and we got there and, and the police
said, oh yes, they're out there, and he gave us a special number to call the
next time it happens to get a police car right away.

[00:07:13] HOST: And
let me get this straight. So you drove to the police station. So that sounds
very scary and also very smart of you, just to do exactly what you did.

[00:07:20] George:
Exactly.

[00:07:21] HOST: And
then, but they didn't go all the way to the police station. They didn't...

[00:07:24] George: No,
they veered off...

[00:07:26] Sandra: I
saw them in my rear-view mirror. He, he followed me, and then about halfway
down he suddenly wasn't there anymore.

[00:07:33] HOST: Oh, so
he knew.

[00:07:34] Sandra: They
put these white streaks, I don't know how they did it, but somehow, they got
these white streaks on the car. And I said to George, put your finger on that,
I bet it wipes right off. Of course it did.

[00:07:47] HOST: Sure,
so maybe before you left where, where you were at the VA or somewhere along the
way they did this to say, oh...

[00:07:53] George:
That's right, we could have done something on that area.

[00:07:56] HOST: I
wonder if their car had like a, a crumpled fender or something that they had
already previously...

[00:08:02] George: They
could have (inaudible), but the next car that said he was the witness was a
Maserati. But he had a beard, the same similar type as the first man.

[00:08:14] HOST: Well
beards are all the rage these days. So...

[00:08:16] George: Oh
yeah.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:08:20] HOST: George
and Sandra played it safe and made a smart move, driving to the police station
without stopping. But here's where the credit goes to Sandra. It wasn't the
first time this had happened to her. And the first time, years earlier wasn't
so smooth.

[00:08:32] Sandra: So,
a similar thing, I pulled into a lane and I saw them behind me, but there was
plenty of time to stop and I did not feel anything, and then they raced ahead
of me. I made a right had turn, raced ahead of me and said, "You hit me,
and I have a wife and two kids in the car," and they, they jumped out and
then there's another guy in there with tattoos.

[00:08:53] George: Out
alone by the way, Will.

[00:08:55] Sandra: I
was alone. And so he, at that time I was, you know, really shaken and I said,
"Well I don't see anything," and he said, "Oh look there,"
and there was this blue paint on my tire. And his car was blue. So he said, you
know, "I'm going to call the police on you or if you want to get in the
car, we'll go to a place and we’ll, you know get it fixed and, and you can just
pay us so you don't have to..."

[00:09:23] George:
(laugh)

[00:09:25] Sandra:
"...you know deal with the insurance company." So I was so new at all
this, I was all ready to make them out a check.

[00:09:30] George: My
wife had just been recently widowed, so I wasn't with her or anything, this is
a few, a few years back. Go ahead, honey, I'm sorry to interrupt.

[00:09:39] HOST: But
so, let me back up. So it sounds like, so they said you hit the car, you got in
the car and they took you to get money out to pay them money?

[00:09:48] Sandra:
Yeah, he jumped in the car and the guy, the other, there was another driver in
his car, and they followed, they followed me.

[00:09:55] HOST: Oh,
but one of the guys got in your car or they got in their car?

[00:09:58] Sandra:
Yeah.

[00:09:59] George: They
were intimidating her.

[00:10:01] HOST: They
got in your car.

[00:10:02] Sandra:
Yeah. And I'm sure they had it all set up with the place they took me to which
was a long drive, about 45 minutes.

[00:10:09] HOST: And
then you got money out, you paid them money. Do you remember how much they
asked for?

[00:10:13] Sandra: I
was going to hand them a check, and then I called my bank and they said don't
you give them that check.

[00:10:19] HOST: Oh, so
they, so you never, so great. Good, that's a, so you, you did not pay them any
money, and...

[00:10:26] Sandra: No,
I was about it.

[00:10:27] HOST: Yeah, sure.
And then, so fast forward several years or many years later and here you and
George are and you know exactly what's going on.

[00:10:35] George: Déjà vu, déjà vu.

[00:10:37] Sandra:
That's exactly it, it was the same tone of voice. I would just hit me.

[00:10:40] HOST: It's
tough because a lot of scams like this, they fall into a realm of, well, you
know, accidents do happen. Sometimes we might hit something lightly in a car
and not even know about it, but this one smells fishy.

[00:10:56] Sandra: The
best thing is if you can get to a police station.

[00:10:59] HOST: Yeah.
Absolutely. You know the, a lot of the, again, a lot of the scams and frauds
we've been talking about have been over the phone or over the computer. This is
one that's in person and could have dangerous consequences.

[00:11:12] George: Very
dangerous.

[00:11:14] HOST: I'm
glad you're, I'm glad you're both okay.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:11:17] HOST: So,
with prior experience and a lot of savvy between the two of them, George and
Sandra escaped this hit and run scam. But as the local police told them, it's
not an uncommon crime, and they were lucky to get home unscathed, unharmed, and
none the poorer.

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:11:35] HOST: And
I'm back with the AARP Fraud Watch Network Ambassador, Frank Abagnale. Frank,
this is kind of a scary story. They both come out of it unscathed, but Sandra
talks about an early experience, earlier experience where she wasn't quite so
lucky. But it's dangerous because these are criminals in person. We talk a lot
about internet and email and phone fraud.

[00:11:57] Frank
Abagnale: Well these scams are all based on simply intimidation. And actually,
there was a third player in her first scam, and probably would have been in the
second one as well, and that was the garage they went to or this place where
they were taking her to fix a car, why it was 45 minutes away, they're part of
it, so then they bring it in there to get a quote, how much would it cost to
fix this, and they get the quote from them and they make it look like it's
legitimate and get the money. But all three of them were probably involved in
that, that scam. You know, they're all based, these types of scams and they
come in different, different varieties. I remember a couple of years ago
walking down the street in Manhattan, and this gentleman walked out of a liquor
store. It kind of looked like he was probably a little drunk and disorderly and
he bumped into me purposely and dropped a brown bag and it broke and he said to
me, that's, "I just bought that bottle of whiskey. It cost me $20 and
you..."

[00:12:50] HOST: It's
all your fault?

[00:12:51] Frank
Abagnale: It's all your fault and you need to give me the $20 to replace it.
And so, I kind of kicked the bag around a little, and I said, "Sir, that's
water in there. I said you're just trying to scam out of $20 and that's an old
scam." I said, "I'm not falling for it," and I just kept
walking.

[00:13:06] HOST: You
can't fool Frank, people, alright?

[00:13:07] Frank
Abagnale: I just kept walking. But I mean, that's how they work. And most
people would have said, you know, I don't want to get, seen with this person.
I'm going to give them their $20 and you know, but they're all based on trying
to intimidate you. Getting in the car with you is part of the intimidation. Now
the whole thing is based on you're going to give them some money cause you're
intimidated by them.

[00:13:26] HOST: And
intimidation is used obviously online and over the phone as well.

[00:13:30] Frank
Abagnale: Exactly. I mean we now have people actually that literally threaten
to kidnap you on the phone or kidnap a loved one of yours unless you pay a
ransom or cause you bodily harm unless you pay them something. Again, you know,
the best thing to do in those cases is to report it to the police, so that
they, they are aware of it and also, they can take steps to make sure that it's
not a actual really a, someone threatening your life.

[00:13:57] HOST: And
this couple, George and Sandra uh drive to the police station and luckily, they
knew where the police station was. They, they told the, the person who was
doing this to them, they were doing that. Was that a good idea or...

[00:14:08] Frank
Abagnale: I thought it was a great idea. Before I'd ever got in the car I would
have just drove away and, but I would have headed to the police station, and
even if they, and I would tell them, I'm going to the police station, and you
know, again they followed just for a short period of time and left. They
weren't about to go to the police station with them.

[00:14:23] HOST: And
again, this is a, a crime that might have been perpetrated against them because
they were older. I mean George thought maybe because they had the handicap
license plate.

[00:14:31] Frank
Abagnale: Right, and, and they're very easy to intimidate. It would be hard to
intimidate some maybe young couple who would have said, I'm not buying that,
and we'll just go to the police right now. He, I'm sure they looked at this
might be someone easier to intimidate and obviously they were not.

[00:14:47] HOST: This
kind of gets into this whole real-world scams. You were talking about the guy
with the liquor bottle, but scams have been around since what, like humans have
been around? I don't what like you know biblical scams were.

[00:14:59] Frank
Abagnale: And you know, I think it, but all scams are based on 1) building
confidence with someone, 2) sometimes intimidation, certainly urgency; it has
to be done right now, right away, and you have to give me the money right away.
Those are all red flags that when you start to see those elements of it, you
have to start thinking that somebody's actually scamming you or trying to scam
you.

[00:15:24] HOST: When,
and when you got into scams, did you, were you aware of this idea of con men or
confidence men? Or were you doing something that simply seemed like, hey I can
do this. I'm getting away with it a little bit.

[00:15:35] Frank
Abagnale: I looked at it more of, because I was pretending to be somebody I
wasn't, or I was going in a bank to cash a check, it was more to me, just the
act. It wasn't more about, I'm going to con this teller into cashing the check,
it was more about I'm going to go in and, and deal with whatever I have to deal
with. In other words, whatever they say to me, I'll come up with some answer
for that. So, I don't think it was me premeditating I'm going to go in and con
somebody out of this, or I'm going to convince somebody of this. I think I just
took everything and adlibbed it and went in and whatever I had to say just to
make them believe it, I would say, but it wasn't kind of premeditated. A lot of
scams are premeditated and there's a, almost an act to it, a structure to it,
and you play it and you practice it, and then you uh perpetrate it against
people.

[00:16:20] HOST: And
with this one, they go to the police department and they say, oh yeah, these
guys, there's a lot of this going on right now where somebody's hitting another
car or saying they got hit by a car and then having a witness pull up from...

[00:16:29] Frank
Abagnale: Right, and the police know, the police, like me, have heard all these
scams and that they know all these scams, so you know, they would have
recognized it for what it was. And of course, they would have never, the two
guys would have never went there because they probably would have got arrested.


[00:16:43] HOST: And I
go back to, with this one though, it was in person and you would obviously
always want to be cautious and, as you say, drive away or in their case, go to
the police station. It's not worth trying to figure out what's going on.

[00:16:54] Frank
Abagnale: Yeah, and I will say that most of the time the majority of confidence
men, con artists, scam artists, are not violent people, so most of the time
it's just based on trying to intimidate you, but if you walk away or whatever,
most of the time no one's going to cause you any bodily harm, cause they're not
that type of criminal and they, so it's much better as long as you feel it's
safe to just simply drive away and do like they did.

[00:17:22] HOST: Was
there uh as, as you were talking about when, when you were doing it and cashing
checks, was it a high for you, do you think at the time?

[00:17:31] Frank
Abagnale: No, I don't think...

[00:17:31] HOST: As a
young person?

[00:17:32] Frank
Abagnale: You know, I think a lot of people and I would admit that if it was,
but a lot of people say, well, did you get great satisfaction, but boy, did you
walk out, in other words and say, well, I really took those people for their
money. It wasn't, it wasn't that. It was more about me surviving, so here's
another way for me to get money cause I need money to live on. And it wasn't
that I walked out and felt some satisfaction that I, I took that person. As a
matter of fact, it was a little bit more of, a little bit of guilt to it, and
certainly as I, as I got older. What was real funny about and I truly,
sincerely mean this, that had I, at that time in my life walked into a dry
cleaner, for example, and no one was at the counter, and I happened to look
over and the register drawer was open and there was all this cash sitting
there, I wouldn't have taken any cash cause I would have said to myself, 1)
that's stealing, 2) the people that own this little dry cleaner, they're going
to be out the money, and so I always looked at everything as an adolescent.
Okay to steal from a big bank, not okay to steal from mom and pop. You know, I
convinced a bail bondsman in, and when you read the book, Catch Me If You Can,
Bailout Bailey was his name in Boston when I did get arrested, but just
overnight, and ...

[00:18:49] HOST:
Bailout Bailey.

[00:18:50] Frank
Abagnale: Bailout Bailey was the bail bondsman, and in that incident, just so
you know, I was in the Boston Logan Airport, I had gotten onboard was then
National Airlines from New York to Boston, and they got a little suspicious in
the control tower, so they asked this police at the Boston Police Department to
pick me up and question me. So I got off the plane which the Boston Police
Department is patrolled by the Massachusetts State Police, the state trooper
took me into the police station there in the airport and said, "I need to
verify you are a pilot with the airline. There's a little suspicion that you're
not." And I said, "Well I don't know, well here's my ID card."
It was 11 o'clock at night, so they got a little suspicious, they did stop one
pilot to come in and ask me some questions that were, what's the rate of climb
on this aircraft and things like that.

[00:19:39] HOST: But
you had done your research on it.

[00:19:40] Frank
Abagnale: Frank Abagnale: But I'd done all the research, so the guy said, I
think he's a pilot, you know. So, they decided that they weren't convinced, so
they said they were going to take, lock me up overnight for vagrancy. Now this
is back when you could do vagrancy even though I had money in my pocket and all
that. So I got thrown into what's called the Charles Street Jail in Boston
which is an old famous jailhouse, and but I was in this pilot's uniform. So I'm
sitting in the cell, now it's like 1 o'clock in the morning and I hear this guy
talking to the guy in the cell next to me, and it's the bail bondsman. So he
looks over and he sees me in the pilot's uniform and he said to me, "Whoa
and airline pilot in jail? What did you do?" So, I immediately said,
"Well I was in the airport and this guy was mistreating his girlfriend,
and I got in a fight with him and hit him and they arrested me, locked me up
under some vagrancy charge."

[00:20:28] HOST: So
this just came out.

[00:20:29] Frank
Abagnale: Yeah, just out, so court tomorrow.

[00:20:31] HOST: Yeah.

[00:20:32] Frank
Abagnale: "Well you don't need to spend the night in jail, you make, you
can make some bail," and I said, "Well how much would bail be?"
"For something like that," he said, you know, "I'll write the
bond, but you need to have about $500." And I said, "Well I don't
have, you know, I don't have any money with me. I do have a checkbook, but they
have it downstairs." "Well, I'll take a check from you." So I
went down, I wrote him a check, and I got out of jail. You can imagine the FBI
when the case say he bail bond, cause he got bonded out and then they say, how
did he pay for the bond? He wrote them a check. And they said, good for the
bail bondsman, he'll learn a lesson. But instead, about a week later I mailed
the bail bondsman the $500, cause I didn't want him to be out any money.

[00:21:10] HOST: He did
you a real favor by getting you out of the Charles Street Jail. So, as you're
telling this story, I wonder if there's like a modern-day equivalent of the
airline pilot, or if pilots still have that sort of uh cache in society today?

[00:21:25] Frank
Abagnale: You know, that's the other thing. I thought Stephen Spielberg did
such a wonderful job of explaining what travel was like back in that era, how
pilots, airline pilots especially were such an, such, looked at with such
esteem, and it had so much power being the pilot. You know, everything I did
was more about just opportunities, so when I first started writing checks at,
immediately at the beginning, I would go in a bank and try to convince the
teller that cash--, and these were like $25 checks, $30 checks, with some story
about you know, I needed to get home or something. All I had was my checkbook.
And they would always say to me, you have to go speak to that man or woman
sitting behind a desk.

[00:22:05] HOST: Which
you probably didn't want to do, right?

[00:22:06] Frank
Abagnale: No, no, I did, but I'd go over and I'd try to, you know it was like a
manager or assistant manager. And many times they said, nope, can't do it, you
don't have a bank account with us, you know, can't do it. But once in a while
I'd win, and the guy'd say, I'll do it this one time for you, I'll initial okay
on this, give it back to the teller but don't, you can't do that again. And
then here I am walking down the street and I saw this airline crew, and I
thought to myself, wow, if I could get a uniform like that, and then I walk in
the bank as an airline pilot...

[00:22:35] HOST: Boom.

[00:22:35] Frank
Abagnale: ... when I want to cash a check, instant credibility. And it had
nothing to do with I'm going to get on planes, ride around the world for free,
stay in hotels, it was all about, if I get that uniform, I can go in, write
these checks. So I did get the uniform and I ended up walking in a bank, it was
like night and day. I just walked up to the teller, oh sure, you have your
company ID? Yeah, no problem, we'll cash a check for you. And, and I couldn’t
believe that they were really just seeing the uniform. I had, I was totally
irrelevant. It was the uniform they saw, and I realized that at a very early
age the power of that, that uniform.

[00:23:09] HOST: So
whether it was you as a young man dressed in a pilot's uniform, and not to
relate you to these fellows at all or these guys pulling up in a car, it, it, I
mean it's a lot of acting.

[00:23:20] Frank
Abagnale: Right...

[00:23:21] HOST: Right?
I mean it's like con men are all just actors.

[00:23:24] Frank
Abagnale: Right. There's a great...

[00:23:25] HOST: Or
maybe if you're on the phone telling somebody a story and they've got jury
duty, or they've got this or that...

[00:23:28] Frank
Abagnale: There, there's a great on, when people buy on the DVD and they have
the second disk which is the interviews with all the actors, myself, and
Stephen Spielberg, some of the FBI people; it's a great little disk and on
there is an interview with Leo, and Leo says, "You have to understand that
the reality is, Frank Abagnale was probably the greatest actor that ever lived
because he truly acted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From the moment he woke
up, he was onstage till he went to sleep." And you know, you didn't think
of it back then, but he was, he was right. You were constantly, constantly acting.
And you can't differ from it, because if you ...

[00:24:04] HOST: You
could have had a whole different career. You could have been in Hollywood.

[00:24:06] Frank
Abagnale: You either play the role or you don't play the role, so you can't say
I'm going to play the role this morning but not this afternoon. You have to
play the role the entire time.

[00:24:13] HOST: What
was the hardest role to play among the different occupations that you got into?
I feel like the doctor was, was always...

[00:24:18] Frank
Abagnale: The doctor was the most, the most difficult.

[00:24:20] HOST:
Because you must have had to avoid a lot of...

[00:24:21] Frank
Abagnale: Avoid a lot of things, and I was like, you know, again, everything I
did I fell into. If I had premeditated to be a doctor or be the lawyer, it
would have never happened, so I moved in an apartment complex in Atlanta, and
it was a singles' complex which they had back then, and on the application, it
asked occupation. Well I began to write down airline pilot because that's what
I'd been tending to be for a couple of years, but then it says supervisor's
name, contact number, so I thought to myself, I'm going to have to come up with
something that would be impossible to check out, something would justify why I
drive an expensive car, wear expensive clothes. So, I wrote just in the box,
doctor. Nothing else. I had an inquisitive apartment manager and she goes,
"Ooh, I see you're a doctor." "Yes." "What type of
doctor are you?" So I, first thing came to my mind, I just said,
"Well I'm a medical doctor, however, I'm not practicing medicine right
now. I left my practice in Los Angeles to come to Atlanta to invest in some
real estate holdings I have. I won't be practicing for a while." "Oh,
how interesting. Well, what type of medical doctor are you?" And then I
figured being a singles' complex, I'd say pediatrician, cause there were no
kids. So I said I was a pediatrician.

[00:25:28] HOST: That's
a great idea.

[00:25:28] Frank
Abagnale: So, I moved in as Dr. Frank Williams, pediatrician. Now everyone I
met just thought I was a pedia--, a pediatrician. And shortly thereafter, a
real doctor moves in who is a pediatrician in the apartment below me, so
someone tells him, I'm a doctor. So he comes up to introduce himself and I get
to know him. He takes me up to the hospital where he works. I meet the hospital
staff, and then the next thing I know he's saying to me, "Hey, would you
mind covering a shift at the hospital for a couple weeks? A doctor's had a
death in his family, he's returning home. It's just an administrative job, it
doesn't require licensing from your other state or anything, it's just an
administrative position." And I thought...

[00:26:08] HOST:
Perfect, sure, why not?

[00:26:09] Frank
Abagnale: Well, I was always up to the challenge to see if I'd get away with it
or not, so I went, I went and did it. But again, I always try to tell, you
know, people always say, when I saw the movie, and then I read the book and
then when you read the book you understand how you really kind of fell into all
these things. It wasn't that you planned them and you did them. They're all
things I fell into that and, and that was the opportunist in me. They were just
opportunities that I saw and took, took advantage of.

[00:26:36] HOST: Frank,
I'm afraid that we've digressed once again, but that's actually the point of
the show and the point of having you here as my cohost. So, hopefully our
listeners have learned something from the story of George and Sandra, and also
been entertained by your, your experiences. But be on the lookout for, for
any--, anybody telling you that, that you just ran into them or at least be
skeptical as you always say, too, right?

[00:26:58] Frank
Abagnale: Absolutely, and again, I'm not going to hand somebody money without
uh you know just say, well, I think the damage costs $100, you owe me $100. You
know, but I would be a little cautioned about even though I'm saying to you,
let me just take you to this body shop which might be 10 minutes away or 40
minutes away, that, that party could just be part of the scam, so then you
think you're, you're maybe, well this guy's right. I did hit him and that's how
much it cost to fix. That's all a part of the scam.

[00:27:25] HOST: Frank
Abagnale is one of the world's foremost experts on the topic of fraud, scams,
and also my cohost here, and the AARP's Fraud Watch Network Ambassador. So
thanks, as always for joining us.

[00:27:36] Frank
Abagnale: Thanks Will, and great being with you.

[00:27:37] HOST: If you
or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, please call AARP's Fraud Watch
Network Helpline at 877-908-3360.

[00:27:49] HOST:
Alright, I'd like to thank our producers, Julie Getz and Brook Ellis, our audio
engineer, Julio Gonzales, and of course, my cohost, Frank Abagnale. Be sure to
subscribe, download, rate, and of course like our podcast on Apple podcast, or
wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

Next Episode

Episode 9: Ann's Credit Card Re-Scam

The scammer claimed to be from her credit card company and was notfying Ann of fraudulent charges on her account.

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