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Catch Me If You Can [Paperback]

Frank W. Abagnale , Stan Redding
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2000
Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo, was one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history.  In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks, all before he was twenty-one. Known by the police of twenty-six foreign countries and all fifty states as "The Skywayman," Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the lam-until the law caught up with him.  Now recognized as the nation's leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than-fiction international escapades, and ingenious escapes-including one from an airplane-make Catch Me If You Can an irresistible tale of deceit.

The uproarious, bestselling true story of the world's most sought-after con man currently in development as a DreamWorks feature film.

"I stole every nickel and blew it on fine threads, luxurious lodgings, fantastic foxes, and other sensual goodies.  I partied in every capital in Europe and basked on all the world's most famous beaches."

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Catch Me If You Can + The Wolf of Wall Street + Catching the Wolf of Wall Street: More Incredible True Stories of Fortunes, Schemes, Parties, and Prison
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When this true-crime story first appeared in 1980, it made the New York Times bestseller list within weeks. Two decades later, it's being rereleased in conjunction with a film version produced by DreamWorks. In the space of five years, Frank Abagnale passed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. He did it by pioneering implausible and brazen scams, such as impersonating a Pan Am pilot (puddle jumping around the world in the cockpit, even taking over the controls). He also played the role of a pediatrician and faked his way into the position of temporary resident supervisor at a hospital in Georgia. Posing as a lawyer, he conned his way into a position in a state attorney general's office, and he taught a semester of college-level sociology with a purloined degree from Columbia University.

The kicker is, he was actually a teenage high school dropout. Now an authority on counterfeiting and secure documents, Abagnale tells of his years of impersonations, swindles, and felonies with humor and the kind of confidence that enabled him to pull off his poseur performances. "Modesty is not one of my virtues. At the time, virtue was not one of my virtues," he writes. In fact, he did it all for his overactive libido--he needed money and status to woo the girls. He also loved a challenge and the ego boost that came with playing important men. What's not disclosed in this highly engaging tale is that Abagnale was released from prison after five years on the condition that he help the government write fraud-prevention programs. So, if you're planning to pick up some tips from this highly detailed manifesto on paperhanging, be warned: this master has already foiled you. --Lesley Reed


"A book that captivates from first page to last."
-West Coast Review of Books

"Whatever the reader may think of his crimes, the reader will wind up chortling with and cheering along the criminal."
-Charlottesville Progress

"Zingingly told...  richly detailed and winning as the devil."
-Kirkus Reviews

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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A MAN'S ALTER EGO is nothing more than his favorite image of himself. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By Kelvin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an amazing story of a young man who was able to act so "truthfully" to his detriment. Thankfully his life was turned around.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hacker Without a Computer Feb. 20 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Frank Abagnale was a sixteen-year-old with his first checking account. It's no surprise that he quickly overspends and his account is overdrawn. Instead of facing the problem, he runs away from it. His similarity to other teens ends here.

Because he looks ten years older than his true age, Frank is able to pass as an adult. He learns to make and cash bogus checks and begins traveling around the country disguised as an airline pilot. His quick wits keep him a few steps ahead of the FBI as he also impersonates a doctor, a lawyer--even on occasion an FBI agent. The story becomes incredible as he organizes and conducts a phony European "goodwill ambassador tour" unwillingly funded by his favorite airline. Frank is finally apprehended, does time in a series of European prisons, and escapes while being returned to the United States. His life becomes less eventful as he is finally recaptured, serves more time, and ends up putting his forging skills to work for the FBI to catch other criminals.

Frank's cleverness is impressive as is his casual attitude toward the impersonal institutions and personal friends he cons. One hopes he has turned into a more considerate adult in his subsequent careers with the FBI and as a white-collar crime consultant in the private sector. This book is worth reading to help us understand the life of a criminal who lives by his wits. It is also worth reading for its sheer entertainment value. If you have not yet seen the movie Catch Me If You Can, I would recommend reading this book first.

A personal reaction: I first encountered this book on sale for a dollar in a used book bin in the Brigham Young University Bookstore.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding! Nov. 10 2003
Saw (and bought) the movie then had to find out what was true and what were Hollywood embellishments... so I quickly ordered the book.
I was absolutely amazed that the real story of Mr. Abagnale's "escapades" were even more cleaver and brazen than in the movie. To think that this kid was able to convince people that he was a pilot for a major airline, a pediatrician, a lawyer (who actually passed the BAR exam without ever taking even one course in law school!), and a college professor... not to mention the most prolific bum check artist that ever lived!!!
You can read many reviews here that condemn Mr. Abagnale's actions and feel that he glamorizes theft and deception. But even young Abagnale had a sense of morality, albeit a bit skewed. He would not allow himself to swindle the common man or take money from anyone who could not afford the hit.
Upon maturity (and after doing some hard time) he found that he could use his talents and knowledge to help educate and protect the very same companies and institutions from being defrauded by other would-be "Frank Abagnales". There is little doubt that his expertise in this area and his willingness to share his knowledge with them has saved these companies billions of dollars. So if you really think about it, the banks and corporations that he conned actually just paid into a scholarship fund for someone who, down the road, went to work for them! Alas, poor Pan Am paid the bulk of his tuition.
This is a brilliant, brilliant book...I simply could not put it down. It is very well written and extremely entertaining. It is simply incredible that this is not a work of fiction... everything can be verified. The best book I have read in years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true and daring story of a teanaged con man March 9 2003
I've seen the movie and read the book and I enjoyed both. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the con man of the title being pursued by Tom Hanks as the FBI agent. The book is a true story about a 16 year old New York runaway who leads the FBI and other law enforcement on a 5 year globe trotting escapade of bouncing check, forged payroll checks and life in the fast lane. The author impersonated a Pan American pilot, a pediatric doctor, and an attorney among others. He did this mostly as a teenager who dropped out of high school. Obviously he is not your average drop out, but an intelligent and scheming confidence man. He was more that just a two-bit paper hanger, as he developed techniques using the Federal Routing identification number that had not been used before. After being caught and imprisoned in France, Sweden and United States, Frank Abagnale used his expertise and talents to improve the check banking system, help catch other criminals, work with the FBI, and start his own secure documents corporation. In the back of the book is a question and answer section with the author where he reveals that the movie is 80% accurate. Obvious you can not put a book covering 5 years into a 2+hour movie so some events were altered, and of course some events in the book were omitted from the movie. I give this book my highest recommendation as a fun and enjoyable read. I myself enjoyed all that much more knowing that this is a true story, written by the actual perpetrator, of his exploits as mostly a teenager. Adults as well as teenagers will like this book. This is a an easy read and a fun book to read, I hope you enjoy it as much as me. I'm also planning to read the author's other book, "The Art of the Steal".
Older reades will see some similarities in the true book/movie, "The Great Imposter" which starred Tony Curtis.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Caught Me!
The book has much more depth than the movie.
Having said that... I have purchased the movie again.
I have to come to terms with... he caught my attention... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2010 by videomovies
5.0 out of 5 stars a heart-racer!
One of the most intriguing moments of this autobiography comes in the first few pages of the book. When asked why he used his dad's Mobil card in order to steal money, he responds,... Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by S. Keough
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This book relates the exploits of the young Frank Abagnale, Jr., master con-artist. When Abagnale's parents split up in the early 1960s, Frank went to live with his father. Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Erika Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a well made novel, but the ending has no meaning
"Catch Me If You Can" is a fun and enjoyable read and is easily as good as many current novels. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by Traveler
3.0 out of 5 stars The true story of a fake..
Frank W. Abagnale's true crime/memoir book tells the story of a lost time when people were more trusting, and airlines that actually first-class. Read more
Published on June 30 2004 by Peter LaPrade
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better books I've read
I picked this book up at a NAVY Exchange in the UK. As always they had a limited supply of products, usually shipped over from stores such as Wal-Mart with surplus inventories,... Read more
Published on June 28 2004 by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down - Fascinating!
This book will have you rooting for the bad guy! He is larger than life, smooth-talking, and above all, gutsy. Read more
Published on June 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars More thrilling than the movie.
First I saw the movie and became interested in knowing more about it, they did a great job with the screenplay but the book is better by a long way. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Nestor A. Ruiz
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like the book you will love the movie
This is one of the best book I ever read. I thought it got realy into his mind so you know how he thought and felt at that time in his life. Read more
Published on March 19 2004 by amanda moore
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding book for an astounding man.
This book was an excellent read. Keeping me entertained from the first page to the last. With an excellent ending that kept you wanting more. Read more
Published on March 12 2004 by "kuku_cachoo"
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