NAPLES, Fla.- It's a story of fraud...a savvy teenager making out with millions of dollars by forging checks. The 2002 film, "Catch Me If You Can" stars Leonardo DiCaprio. But on Tuesday, Southwest Florida got a peek at the real Frank Abagnale.
"I was just somebody doing all this, and really, couldn't believe I was getting away with all of it," Abagnale said Tuesday.
Between the age of 16 and 21, Abagnale successfully posed as a pilot, an attorney, even a pediatrician...all while cashing out with $2.5 million in fraudulent checks.
"The problem is I got a little older, realized how serious it was, and I knew eventually I'd get caught," Abagnale said.
He did, later serving five years in prison. He was let out early, under the conditions that he'd go to work for the FBI. Nearly four decades later, Abagnale's still serving as a white collar crime consultant.
"Unfortunately, all these crimes that I was involved in years ago have now become much easier to do because of technology," he said.
Abagnale offered insight on protecting your personal finances in an era of Internet crime...advising against using debit cards and checks.
"When you write a check, and you leave it at a store, you left a document with your name, address, phone number. Your bank's name and address, your account number, your routing number into your account," Abagnale advised.
He also stresses against giving out your Social Security number at all costs. Lastly, he recommends covering your tracks from cons.
"Make sure you use a shredder. But use a micro-cut shredder. Those are shredders that turn paper into confetti. The other types of shredders are not really useful at all. They can be put back together," he said.
Abagnale says using a credit card is the safest way to make a purchase. He also recommends using a credit monitoring service that notifies you in real time if someone is trying to hack into your bank account.