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Xavier Magazine | September 23, 2017

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The Wit and Wisdom of Frank Abagnale

Felix Winternitz

On April 10, Frank Abagnale gave the annual “Heros of Professional Ethics” lecture at the Cintas Center. Known as the inspiration for the movie “Catch Me If You Can,” Abagnale offered this advice:

“I thought it would be great to have a movie about my life, but I was egotistical and self-centered. We all grow up. Hopefully we get wiser. Age brings wisdom and fatherhood changes one’s life completely. I am proud that I have been able to turn my life around and in the past 25 years, helped my government, my clients, thousands of corporations and consumers deal with the problems of white-collar crime and fraud.”

“If I’m going to forge a company’s checks, I’m going to make two phone calls—one to accounts receivable, where they’ll give me the account number for wiring instructions and, second, to public affairs, where I can ask for an annual report, which will contain the signature of the CEO.”

“I hope some day people will judge me on how I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life and not on a few years as a teenager.”

“The truth is: it was a long process. I met my wife, got married, matured. I was lucky enough to find someone who believed in me. Then there was the responsibility of having children—that’s what changed me.”

“The front of a canceled check alone gives someone enough information to steal your identity. There’s your name, your bank’s address, your account number, your signature.”

“There’s no such thing as a foolproof system. That idea fails to take into account the creativity of fools.”

“I made a lot of exits through side doors, down fire escapes or over rooftops. I abandoned more wardrobes in the course of five years than most men acquire in a lifetime. I was slipperier than a buttered escargot.”

“If I had to place any blame for my future nefarious actions, I’d put it on my Ford (Mustang Shelby). That Ford fractured every moral fiber in my body. It introduced me to girls, and I didn’t come to my senses for six years.”

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