Patient Exposes Her Therapist as a Conman
In part 2 of this episode, after "Dr. Redman" is revealed as a fraud, he assumes a new identity
Kathy discovers that her therapist, Dr. Scott C. Redman, is not what he seems: Not only is he not a psychologist, he’s been practicing for years without any real credentials. Rather than accept that he’s been caught, Redman assumes a new identity and sets up shop at another clinic. This time he poses as a psychiatrist, prescribing medications to his new patients. However, the authorities are on to Redman and are determined to stop this serial con artist.
[00:00:00] Michelle: This week on The Perfect Scam.
[00:00:02] The kind of person who does this is somebody who's deeply entitled, very arrogant, very calculating, who lacks empathy for other people. For them, life is very egocentric, it's very much about them. There may be rules out there, but they sure as heck don't apply to them.
[00:00:22] Michelle: Welcome back to AARP's The Perfect Scam. I'm your host, Michelle Kosinski. Last week we brought you a story that might seem unbelievable if it weren't all true. A psychologist who had been practicing for years in reality had all the credentials of a 10th grade education. You definitely want to hear last week's episode on how this all came about. When Scott Redman first faked his way as a therapist, more than a decade ago, he was found out and barred from practicing in Florida. But then he simply moved to Illinois, gave himself a big promotion to a psychologist, and was back in fake business. That's where he treated Kathy Baran for more than two years until she confronted him and was instrumental in his being arrested, convicted, and then barred from practicing again.
[00:01:14] Kathy Baran: I feel so angry. I mean I could use stronger language, but, but really, it's horrible. It's horrible that someone had gotten away with that and only knowing that he, the closest experience he's gotten to is working, I guess, as an orderly on a psyche--, psychiatric ward at one point. So that means he just kind of did the laundry and, and emptied wastepaper baskets, and bath towels, I guess. You know, and if that makes you a psychologist, I don't know. I mean he got arrested again and again and again after opening off--, office again and again and again, you know, he was the one needing help, and, and you know, delusional that he could call himself a doctor.
[00:02:00] Michelle: Kathy, who was dealing with childhood trauma, depression, and anxiety felt violated to say the least when she found out that the doctor she had poured her whole life out to was just this huge fraud. But what Scott Redman did was in Illinois only a misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty and served no time in prison. So you would think after being busted and barred in a big way twice now, that Redman would finally consider himself lucky to not be behind bars, give up his medical ruse, and focus on finding a legit way to care for his family and children... you would think. It's what he did next that is even more stunning.
[00:02:41] Kathy Baran: You've got to be kidding.
[00:02:43] Michelle: Scott Redman, as soon as he was convicted and sentenced to probation got right back up on his trusty fraud horse and gave himself yet another promotion, a big one to psychiatrist, which meant he was now prescribing medications to his patients. He didn't even bother to leave the state this time, he just moved from one side of Chicago to the other.
[00:03:06] Kathy Baran: That's how bold he was. His mugshot was on TV. I was interviewed on TV. I was in the paper with, with his picture and his mugshot in the paper, but yet he opened up another office. He did it again.
[00:03:16] Michelle: How was he able to pull this off yet another time with even more recklessness? Now he decided to just steal the identity of a real psychiatrist, Dr. Julian Lopez Garcia, and crafted diplomas and credentials using that doctor's history. In fact, only days, five days after Scott Redman pleaded guilty to being a fake psychologist, he applied and got a job as a psychiatrist under his assumed name at a place called Clarity Clinic and started seeing more patients including children and prescribing them meds.
[00:03:55] This was a weird piece.
[00:03:57] Michelle: Assistant US Attorney Katie Durick was a brand-new federal prosecutor when she came across Scott Redman.
[00:04:03] Michelle: Do you get all the weird ones that nobody else wants?
[00:04:06] Katie Durick: Yes.
[00:04:06] Michelle: Like here, you take this one.
[00:04:08] Katie Durick: We received a call from the DEA, so Drug Enforcement Administration. From the very get-go it was, we need to react very quickly.
[00:04:17] Michelle: So when you hear that there was a completely fake psychiatrist out there, you must have been like, what???
[00:04:23] Katie Durick: Yeah. It, um...
[00:04:24] Michelle: They don't come across your desk every week, I guess.
[00:04:26] Katie Durick: No. No, it was a, it was an unusual case definitely, an urgency about it from both the DEA standpoint and our office's standpoint that we needed to act quickly. I just remember sort of pulling up his online bio, and I was like, oh my gosh, he's working right now as a psychiatrist. So we had to, you know, gather information pretty quickly. We issued search warrants and an arrest warrant. I think within a few weeks there was a lot of evidence. I mean his, his scheme fell apart pretty quickly, and we could determine that one, he had not graduated from medical school. His name was not um, Dr. Julian Lopez-Garcia.
[00:05:07] Michelle: As Katie chipped away uncovering Redman's history, she found a lot of impersonation. She realized that even after he was busted the first time in Florida for pretending to be a mental health counselor more than 10 years ago, he immediately became a counselor yet again, near Chicago, and was openly advertising his services before going for broke and next pretending to be a psychologist. By the time Redman's antics hit her radar screen, he had full-on stolen a real psychiatrist's identity, and even his wife apparently was going along with it.
[00:05:42] Katie Durick: His wife had even attended a, you know, Christmas party as kind of a new psychiatrist's wife for this clinic when he was hired.
[00:05:53] Michelle: And they were calling him by this other name, so she had to have known like...
[00:05:58] Katie Durick: Correct.
[00:05:59] Michelle: As spooky as this is, like how can a person be this bold to just keep trying again, even after being convicted? The worst part now, of course, was that Scott Redman was treating patients as young as 9 years old with drugs, drugs he knew little about having not even finished high school let alone medical school or any medical training for that matter.
[00:06:21] Katie Durick: I think we catalogued 57 different patients. He issued about 92 prescriptions to those patients for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances.
[00:06:32] Michelle: His prescriptions were messy; his instructions didn't really make sense. This was dangerous to the point of life-threatening.
[00:06:40] Katie Durick: He had prescribed this medication, a benzodiazepine to an individual who had a history of alcohol abuse, it could cause serious injury. But then also yeah, just getting names wrong and dosages wrong, like not sort of knowing how to write a prescription the proper way. He had taken advantage of vulnerable victims with no medical training. He's prescribing these powerful controlled substances. How does he know the correct dosage? How does he know a particular controlled substance, and how it interacts with a specific patient's medical history, family history, um, maybe other controlled substances they were taking. It was just a lot, a lot of risk in harm's way that he put these patients in, and them we also were concerned about the fact that he was treating people that could have had serious mental health issues, and so what about the treatment that maybe these people didn't get, or the diagnoses these people didn't get that they, they should have received? And then, I think over and apart from that, just the real trauma that these patients felt by being defrauded in this way, obviously it's a very intimate relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient. I mean, it's not like they were coming in for a swollen ankle, they were coming in for mental health issues.
[00:07:56] Michelle: Kathy Baran, who was treated by Redman as a fake psychologist, knows that feeling well. She hasn't been able to go back to therapy. She knows it would help her, she's just not ready to trust like that again.
[00:08:07] Kathy Baran: He could have easily killed somebody. He killed a lot of spirits. There are times where I would wake up, it could be dead of night, I'd wake up or I'd have trouble sleeping and he's on my mind. I will have a nightmare of me just opening up my door and he's not knocking or anything trying to get in, but he's standing right outside there and just giving me the death stare.
[00:08:27] Michelle: That actually gives me the chills up and down my arms.
[00:08:30] Kathy Baran: Yeah. You know, kind of like you see in a movie. I have this dream of, I just open up my front door ready to leave in the morning and he's just standing there waiting for me at the...
[00:08:40] Michelle: What goes through your mind to hear that he had done this again and again and again?
[00:08:46] Kathy Baran: I just couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it. It's, all of that trouble, all of that money in the court system would have been saved just if someone listened to me.
[00:08:56] Michelle: Did you ever ask the police, like why didn't anyone follow up and make sure that he wasn't doing something else.
[00:09:03] Kathy Baran: He kind of shrugged shoulders and hands in the air. Pretty much, yeah.
[00:09:09] Michelle: That's scary.
[00:09:10] Kathy Baran: Yeah. It's, it's, it's pretty horrible.
[00:09:14] Michelle: As bad as it was when Redman bumped himself up to psychiatrist, earning a more than $200,000 a year salary, at least he had only been working at the clinic for a few months when the Feds caught up with him.
[00:09:27] Michelle: Do you know how Redman got the Social Security card and the driver's license and the medical licenses and diplomas and whatever he had to show to get this job at the clinic under somebody else's name?
[00:09:41] Katie Durick: This is where his scheme sort of fell apart in certain aspects, because he had kind of created this whole set of documents but in different ways. I mean it looked like in some instances the medical diploma might have been created even just by a Word document, we don't really know. Um, but he faked these documents in different ways, and they didn't all match up with the same person. He used the real Dr. Lopez's medical license number and a couple of other numbers that were really associated with Dr. Lopez, but it wasn't the right Social Security number, it wasn't the right birthdate, it wasn't matching up.
[00:10:18] Michelle: So if somebody had just done a thorough background check on this guy, some of these inconsistencies might have popped up, is that right?
[00:10:26] Katie Durick: I think that it started to unravel during a um insurance credentialing check.
[00:10:30] Michelle: Ah...
[00:10:31] Katie Durick: Because I think the real Dr. Lopez-Garcia was kind of alerted that his license number was being used. I know that... so Scott Redman said that he graduated from, I think it was University of Connecticut Medical School, and the real Dr. Lopez-Garcia never went to the University of Connecticut, um, so there were some things there that didn't match up. Things started to unravel pretty quickly.
[00:10:57] Michelle: So for such an elaborate, long-standing, serious scheme, he made some pretty glaring mistakes.
[00:11:06] Katie Durick: Yeah, I mean...
[00:11:07] Michelle: So there was no way you were going to lose this case. This was a slam dunk for a new AUSA.
[00:11:13] Katie Durick: The evidence was overwhelming.
[00:11:15] Michelle: The Feds moved in and this bright new doctor with the bad prescription skills was swiftly arrested. Yet even after his whole wild story of fraud, his prior conviction only months earlier, all of this irrefutable evidence against him, like forged medical degrees, one of the most remarkable things here is that Scott Redman didn't even plead guilty this time. This went to trial, and the whole time Redman presented himself as the victim. He was adamant that he had done nothing wrong, that he had the know-how and was helping people. Listen to this interrogation tape of him. The answers he gives as he coolly sits there with his slicked back hair and dark glasses to DEA investigators.
[00:12:02] DEA: The people that you typically prescribed controlled substances to, what are you treating them for?
[00:12:07] Redman: It could be anything from panic disorder all the way to schizophrenia or manic bipolar.
[00:12:14] DEA: You called yourself a doctor, and so people would assume that they're coming to speak with a psychiatrist, no?
[00:12:20] Redman: Wouldn't that just be like Dr. Jay the basketball player or Dr. Dre the Rapper, 'cause you call yourself what you want? It was incredibly unconventional, but I had to do something.
[00:12:33] Michelle: An eerily self-centered, emotionless attitude that also really struck prosecutor Katie Durick preparing for trial, like what could his defense even possibly be? Yet, he kept defending himself.
[00:12:46] Katie Durick: I do think it was motivated by money, but I really think what he would say himself was, he really felt like he had the qualifications, the acumen to be a psychiatrist to deliver mental healthcare, and he felt that the system of medical school was, was rigged. Even at sentencing, even when he was able to talk to the court, he still felt like he was sort of like being victimized and he was able to do these services, and we were picking on him unfairly. He was still claiming he had a PhD from universities that had no record. So he really maintained throughout the whole thing, that he had qualifications that he didn't have.
[00:13:31] Michelle: What was his attitude like, 'cause when I look at pictures of him, I see these kind of like sad dog eyes and, he just looks kind of like a sad character.
[00:13:41] Katie Durick: He was pretty defiant throughout the whole thing in terms of he was justified and kind of could not see the wrongdoing, and, you know, that was part of our argument with, I mean to the judge at sentencing, was this is not someone who has kind of wrestled with his own actions, and wants to do better. This is someone who still thinks he was the one who was wronged here.
[00:14:03] Michelle: Kathy Baran saw the same thing when she confronted him as his patient.
[00:14:07] Kathy Baran: Again, brilliant man.
[00:14:09] Michelle: Yeah.
[00:14:10] Kathy Baran: He thought he was untouchable. He had this larger than life persona that he's superior and again a, a quality that you want in a doctor, someone who is sure of themselves, someone who is, knows what they're doing, but he was not qualified.
[00:14:25] Michelle: What advice would you give to somebody looking for, you know that they, they need to pour their heart out to a new therapist? What would you tell people in, in searching for a doctor?
[00:14:37] Kathy Baran: At first be cautious. Get as many referrals as you can. And always trust your gut. If that sick to your stomach is telling you something's wrong, it's usually something's wrong. And I didn't listen to it. I haven't recovered from this.
[00:14:54] Michelle: In court, the judge didn't buy that Scott Redman was the one wronged here. He was convicted of multiple crimes and sentenced to 13 years in federal prison. That's where he is right now. After a decade of fake doctoring, Redman has been demoted to inmate behind bars in Arkansas. He did try one more bold move appealing his case, but it failed.
[00:15:19] Michelle: Were you guys satisfied with the outcome?
[00:15:21] Katie Durick: I'm, um, satisfied that we did our job and that we um, stopped what was very egregious conduct that was putting people into harm's way.
[00:15:29] Michelle: Redman's former patients, like Kathy, just can't believe he was able to pull off his scams for so long, and feel he is the one with the bigger issues to deal with.
[00:15:39] Michelle: This is like 10 years that he was pretending to be a psychologist and then a psychiatrist. What, what do you think about somebody who would do this?
[00:15:49] Kathy Baran: Someone um, who he himself is sick, I believe that he doesn't even think that he is, but he, he belongs to be locked up and treated himself. I hope he gets some really intense treatment before he's out in the world again, because just like he did over and over and over again, unless it's treated and dealt with, I, I would hate for him to go out and do it again and get away with it for years and years and years again.
[00:16:16] Michelle: Yeah.
[00:16:16] Kathy Baran: I believe he just believes that there's nothing wrong with what he's doing. He believes this whole lie. I actually believe that he believes it.
[00:16:25] Michelle: Kathy, the patient, may be absolutely right in assessing her fake psychologist. We spoke to expert Dr. Ramani Durvasula, herself a psychologist and professor who has written two fascinating books on narcissists and the things they get up to.
[00:16:43] Michelle: I mean before we start talking about this case, I'm curious to know, is narcissism something people are born with or is narcissism a learned personality trait?
[00:16:54] Ramani Durvasula: Narcissism is very learned. Now while we are sort of have an inborn form of our personality called our temperament, there's really no such thing as a narcissistic temperament. This has a lot to do with early relationships, with issues we call attachment. It can relate to other darker issues like trauma. It can also be associated with things like how a person's parented. A child that is not consistently parented, whose parents seem to be more concerned with they themselves than their child who don't mirror the child's emotional experiences, who are very conditional in their regard for their child and their love for their child, and who are very invalidating with their child. Those are the kinds of patterns that can set a child up for a greater likelihood of exhibiting narcissistic patterns of an adult.
[00:17:40] Michelle: So when, when someone says, oh, there's a narcissistic person or he's clearly a narcissist...
[00:17:46] Ramani Durvasula: Yeah, I would definitely say it's much, much more nurtured. Is there a tiny bit of nature at play? Sure. And as we do more neuroscience research on these issues, certainly we're getting that more of that will show, but I still think this is much, much more of a nurture issue, for sure.
[00:18:00] Michelle: Oh, that's interesting. So how do you avoid your kid becoming a narcissist?
[00:18:07] Ramani Durvasula: You're a consistent parent who creates a very safe, available, consistent space for them to express their emotions. That you love your child not for what they do, but for who they are.
[00:18:19] Michelle: So, what internally drives a person to take such outlandish risks as this? Obviously, the stakes are high. To go and impersonate somebody else, is risk-taking the main driver here? Is it somebody who just doesn't have any inhibitions in that sense?
[00:18:39] Ramani Durvasula: I think in a case like Scott Redman's, you know, we're looking at somebody who probably is much more in the realm of what we call psychopathy versus just plain old narcissism. And, and in this case, that when a person is psychopathic and is able to take on a different identity and you know, and really pull off a scam to such, such a high level, at some level they just don't care. They don't care about the people they're impacting. It's just, they don't think through the risk. And that's a unique element of a psychopathic personality style, is that they tend to be very um, short-sighted. It's almost as though they feel entitled to do what they want and say they are whoever they want to be, and they are often a little bit surprised that somebody's calling them out on it. And that seems to be sort of what's happening here, that this is somebody who felt absolutely entitled to do this, and because people with sort of a psychopathic style are often, they, they don't get anxious in the way that a person with a, a normal, normal nervous system would, there's none of that, I'm so sorry with somebody like him.
[00:19:38] Michelle: Exactly. And that's what fascinates me about it. If you had to sort of put this kind of person in a nutshell, well who does this?
[00:19:48] Ramani Durvasula: The type of person who does this is somebody who's deeply entitled, very arrogant, very calculating, who lacks empathy for other people, who has little regards for rules, for norms, for regulations, and above all else, absolutely does not care who they harm. It is just for them, life is very egocentric, it's very egotistical, it's very much about them. And, and again, deep, deep, deep entitlement to the point where they really do feel that there may be rules out there, but they sure as heck don't apply to them.
[00:20:23] Michelle: In that level of egocentricity, you think that is also a learned way of being.
[00:20:31] Dr. Ramani Durvasula: To be that egocentric, to really engage in a scam, to engage in a hustle that could potentially do tremendous harm to other people solely for their own need for ego, gratification, of money, whatever it may be, it's something, that, that's an egocentricity that is very, very much learned. It's possible a person like this had a childhood characterized by neglect, characterized by abuse, characterized by being overindulgent in some cases. So it's as though other people don't exist.
[00:21:02] Michelle: When you're at that level where you aren't too concerned about consequences, and you feel entitled to do these things, does that make you more likely to be believed by other people, because you have this kind of confidence and there's no nervousness there that you're going to get caught?
[00:21:21] Ramani Durvasula: So what's a con man or con woman? A con man or con woman is a confidence man, I mean that's where it comes from, right. And so the fact of the matter is, people like Scott Redman can be very charming, they potentially could be charismatic, they're definitely very confident. And because they don't manifest things like anxiety or even like just the kinds of tells we have when we lie.
[00:21:42] Michelle: Right. And once they are found out, it never seems to deter them.
[00:21:48] Dr. Ramani Durvasula: So people who have this kind of personality organization, and again, it could be termed, in some ways it's very psychopathic, it's a malignant narcissism, call it what you will, is that they don't profit from experience. So in other words, getting caught is not, that consequence for whatever reason, is not aversive enough to them to take them off that pathway. People like this often live very parasitic lifestyles. There's a lot of inconsistency, very inconsistent work histories. They'll often have aliases, they'll change their identities, they will, you know, keep morphing. It's as though they'll play many, many characters over the course of a lifetime. They almost feel as though they're entitled to take advantage of other people. If someone is hustlable, then they deserve to be hustled. Feel no remorse for the people that they take advantage of, and so, as a result, there's no, there's no learning.
[00:22:43] Michelle: Yeah, and what, what are these people after really? Is it the thrill of pretending? Is it the adulation and approval that comes with doing a job that's way out of their league or what?
[00:22:57] Ramani Durvasula: Part of it is it's power, part of it's profit, sometimes it's pleasure. A lot of it is ego. Again, thus the parasitic on the fringe's lifestyles. You see folks like this live, and so they can't be bothered with the silly things like getting an education and, you know, doing the training and getting their credentialing to do a given job. People like this are motivated simply by winning and getting what they want. It's not even any more sinister than that, like they want what they want, and so they're going to go get it.
[00:23:27] Michelle: Yeah. I find this just endlessly fascinating, but it seems like at our, at the very basic human level, there is this feeling that you don't hurt other beings, even if it's from a selfish perspective of, well I wouldn't want that to happen to me. So where does the break happen in people who don't seem to mind hurting others?
[00:23:55] Ramani Durvasula: It's a lack of empathy, I mean it all boils down to a lack of empathy, and there's a lot more people out there that lack empathy than I think any of us would like to comfortably consider, and a lot of these people who lack empathy are in very, very powerful positions. They're making the decisions that impact millions, if not billions of people, and they don't have empathy. So I don't even know that it's a reasonable baseline assumption that so, so, so, so many people have empathy. I do believe, mercifully, that the majority of human beings on the planet do have empathy, they do. They look out for each other. If they see someone in need, they will stop and help them. But when you really are talking about people who have limited empathy or no empathy, this is where you get into a place where doing harm to someone else is, it's merely their needs come before all others, at all times. And other people's needs don't even make sense to them. When we're talking about psychopathy, there have been some interesting neuroscience research that has shown differences in their brains, that they, like seeing human faces doesn't have the same impact on them. The empathy centers in the brain don't fire in the same way, and also, we see this in narcissistic individuals, they're more what of we call reward sensitive, meaning that they will always go for the reward, and they'll go for the quick reward.
[00:25:14] Michelle: Would you say that empathy is innate or learned or a combination?
[00:25:19] Ramani Durvasula: Empathy is probably a combination of innate and learned. I mean human children recognize human faces; it's one of the first things that they recognize. Why? Because we need that. And empathy sort of develops, and it develops over childhood into adolescence and into adulthood.
[00:25:34] Michelle: Interesting
[00:25:35] Ramani Durvasula: And, I'm going to, and this is a cynical thing for me to say, I don’t think our society values empathy enough, because what empathy does, if you want to be cynical, is it slows you down a little, right? If I'm going to stop and make sure other people are okay, I'm going to be a little slower in the race, right? So you can start to see how there's almost this devaluation of empathy that can happen, especially when you're in very competitive situations.
[00:26:00] Michelle: For sure. So when somebody like this Scott Redman person or, or somebody who has these kinds of qualities of narcissism or psychopathology, when they end up in prison, is there any hope of rehabilitation? Can they, and do they turn it around?
[00:26:19] Dr. Ramani Durvasula: The research has not been very promising. There's really not a lot of benefit of therapy or even rehabilitation for individuals who have these personality styles. And if you were to go to our prisons, you would see that there's a subset of inmates who are psychopathic and probably will not show change in their behavior; the minute they're released, they'll probably start perpetrating again. This is a very, very difficult style to change, and in fact, some people postulate that simply by being in prison, they become better at this, because they're learning other people's scams, getting involved in other people's shady networks. And this is where our justice system really comes up short. Someone, like in Redman's case, what was fascinating to me was he had been caught in this and given a slap on the wrist, and I think caught on it ag--, again, and given a slap on the wrist. And so, he's the kind of person where people kind of kept giving him second chances. That totally emboldened him. The penalties he got were so minimal, that he just went back out there and said, wow, this is an easy scam to perpetrate. There's not even any accountability.
[00:27:21] Michelle: Right, and also often crimes like this where nobody is physically hurt, they're treated so much differently than, you know, obviously violent criminals that people feel like they need to be locked up just to keep people safe, but you have other kinds of predators out there that don't physically hurt someone, but they still hurt them.
[00:27:43] Ramani Durvasula: Yeah, I believe psychological violence is every bit as damaging as physical violence, I really do. And I think what this person did was psychological violence. People, at the most vulnerable point in their lives in some cases, coming in to share their vulnerabilities with somebody whom they've placed trust in on the basis of an education and a credential and a license, and who then betrayed that trust. I think that the big problem in our society right now is we are running a risk of becoming a world of narcissistic enablers.
[00:28:13] Michelle: Yep.
[00:28:13] Ramani Durvasula: People who have empathy, you'd better believe they're going to benefit from a second chance. They'll say, I got that so wrong, I take accountability, I take responsibility, and they'll never perpetrate that, that mistake again. Compare that to somebody who lacks empathy, who may be narcissistic or psychopathic, you can set a clock by the fact that they're going to do it again.
[00:28:31] Michelle: Dr. Durvasula said the Redman story, in particular, infuriated her when she saw his attitude after he got caught yet again.
[00:28:40] Ramani Durvasula: I was like are you kidding me? That complete lack of remorse, that complete lack of awareness to even turn it into a joke, that's what the lack of remorse looks like. And I think that when you’re in the presence of it, it's absolutely chilling.
[00:28:57] Michelle: And of course someone else who knows a lot about impersonation scams is our own expert, Frank Abagnale. If you've seen the movie about his early life, Catch Me If You Can, you know he was just a kid when he committed his crimes, and has since devoted his life to trying to stop fraud.
[00:29:14] Michelle: Okay, Frank, so I think one of the most interesting and amazing things about this story is that every time this supposed doctor got caught or somebody intervened, he just built his resume up. So he wasn't a therapist anymore, he was a psychologist. And then, okay, that didn't work out, somebody's checking in on that. Okay, now he's a psychiatrist and now he's prescribing drugs to people. It's just, it's impossible to imagine having that mindset, but what do you think?
[00:29:46] Frank Abagnale: No, I can imagine it, because I was a pilot, then I moved on to be the doctor because I knew too many people knew about the pilot, then people knew about the doctor, so I moved onto the lawyer.
[00:29:58] Michelle: I guess maybe once you can do it once, do you then get that much bolder to try it again?
[00:30:05] Frank Abagnale: Oh, absolutely. I mean when you do it, also I find that, and this is very important to understand, people would say to me, how did you stand in front of a night box and put up a sign that says "night box out of order" on the hopes that people were going to come by and give you, as posing as the bank guard, the, the payment? And what happens here is once you've done something and people are already looking for you, then you just go on and do the next thing.
[00:30:32] Michelle: Another thing I found jaw dropping about this story was that not only was the guy not qualified to be a psychologist and, and be, you know, offering people therapy, let alone prescribing drugs to them, but in the end we find out that he had like a 10th grade education. So, talk about bold. This person obviously felt like he could just learn by going or, or something. He didn't need to waste his time on, on learning anything about his, his scams, at least not in school.
[00:31:04] Frank Abagnale: You're right, Michelle, and again, I hate to keep using myself as an example unfortunately, but that was me. I, I never graduated from high school. I, I received my GED while I was in federal prison. So here I was, a 16-year-old boy impersonating all these people, but I was smart enough to learn enough about what I was doing in order to fake it. You pick up just enough information, you learn just enough to get by, and it looks legitimate, sounds legitimate, so you don't have to know a whole lot to fake it. And some of these jobs that people do, you can literally learn enough about the job to fake your way through it to a point. Sooner or later it's going to catch up with you.
[00:31:45] Michelle: Right, well Frank, we are so happy with your skills that you're on the side of good.
[00:31:49] Frank Abagnale: I'm glad to be there.
[00:31:50] Michelle: Thanks for joining us again.
[00:31:50] Frank Abagnale: Thank you.
[00:31:55] Michelle: If you or someone you know has been the victim of a fraud or scam, call AARP's free Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can help you know what to do next and how to avoid scams in the future. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; Producer, Brook Ellis; Associate Producer and Researcher, Megan DeMagnus; our Audio Engineer, Julio Gonzalez; and of course, Fraud Expert, Frank Abagnale. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Michelle Kosinski.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free Watchdog Alerts, review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.
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