Frank Abagnale was a famous check-forger, imposter, and con-artist. He committed his crimes primarily between the ages of 15 and 21. He was arrested multiple times in multiple countries, spending 6 months in a French prison, 6 months in a Swedish prison, and finally 4 years in a US prison in Atlanta, Georgia.
Abagnale is also famous for his prison escape in 1971. While being transferred into prison by a United States Marshal, the Marshal forgot to give the prison Abagnale’s detention commitment. This struck the administration as unusual, and caused the guards to believe that he was a prison inspector sent by the FBI. Using this information to his advantage he used his phone call to get his friend, Jean Sebring, to forge a business card to back up the story.
Sebring used a business card given to her by FBI Agent Joe Shea and altered it to include Abignale’s information. Once delivered to Abignale, he told the guards that he was in fact an inspector sent by the FBI and that he had to get outside of the prison to talk to his fellow FBI agent. The guards laughed and boasted about how they knew all along and were difficult to fool, ultimately allowing Abagnale to leave the facility.
He was eventually returned to prison to serve four years, but following his release, made an effort to turn his life around. He became an FBI consultant and lecturer and opened his own private financial fraud consultancy company named Abagnale & Associates. He also made an appearance in the movie Catch Me If You Can, which was based on his life. His current net worth is $10 million. Who says crime doesn’t pay?