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4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of someone who was able to act so "truthfully" with a very keen mind.
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.
Published 4 months ago by Kelvin

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast,Entertaining Read About a Slimeball
I had seen the movie before reading this book, so I knew the basic story. I was glad to see though,that Mr. Abagnale went right to the good stuff without trying to justify or explain himself. It was interesting that his first con was his father, charging thousands of dollars on a loaned gas card for phony repairs and pocketing the cash, and how seemingly quickly and...
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by Raymond


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4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of someone who was able to act so "truthfully" with a very keen mind., Dec 2 2013
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This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
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 "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
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. The cover indicated that Frank had hid out for a summer passing himself off as a visiting sociology instructor at BYU. He was apparently a popular teacher and taught his classes by staying one chapter ahead of the students in the textbook and making heavy use of in-class role playing and other activities. Quite plausible--as a graduate student in psychology I "faked" my way through my first classes the same way. Nobody ever caught me, either...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding!, Nov. 10 2003
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Career of a Master Con., Dec 11 2002
By 
tvtv3 "tvtv3" (Sorento, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the autobiography of master con man, Frank Abagnale. By the time he was 20, he had traveled all over the world; stolen millions of dollars; passed himself off as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, a lawyer, and a sociology professor. Abagnale invented modern fraud and now he works at defunking it.
This book was an excellent read. It was quick, entertaining, informative, and slightly fascinating. The author does seem like a chauvinistic pig at the beginning of the book, but keep in mind he was describing himself as he was: a sixteen year old boy who had no ethic and moral system to adhere.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have been recommending it to many of my friends. It's one of the most intriguing autobiographies I've read in years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wits, Charm and Ego, Feb. 16 2004
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
I'm conflicted. I saw the movie before reading this book. Having seen the movie, I find objectivity impossible.
Frank Abagnale tells of his adventures living the life of James Bond without the killing, using his wits and charm to get what he wants. It is romanticized, but plausible.
Do I advise you to read the book first so as to avoid the skew of injecting Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio? You know the successful movie. It is hard not to hear DiCaprio's voice while reading Frank's dialogue. Because the movie has such skilled actors and good editing, it comes across tightly and exciting.
Do I instead advise you to watch the movie first because it will be easier to imagine the details of check fraud production? The book is not well-edited, and suffers from mediocre writing, and any help moving it along will help.
The book is less fun than the movie. There is much more to absorb, more details to consider, and more of Abagnale in the story. His ego plays heavily into the text, and this gets old. His story does not end with this book, but additional chapters haven't been included.
How true is it all? Who can say? Some of it is verifiable, but Abagnale was, in many cases, the only one there. He fabricated so much of his existence, knowing when it is the truth and when it is storytelling is impossible. To enjoy the book, the reader must take the author at his word.
The parental drive Frank wants from Carl feels less evident, missing the sensitive looks and words as played in the movie by Hanks and DiCaprio.
In reading other 'how I lived as a criminal' books by cons like Jack 'Murph the Surf' Murphy, I have had to remember writing skill isn't why they are authors. It is proficiency in thievery, conning, or some other great misdeed. The movie fooled me into believing this book would be different. However, just like Murphy, Abagnale is a man whose life is redeemed. The book doesn't cover this.
There is something oddly heroic about a guy who has managed to fool a lot of people just by pretending. While applauding Abagnale's crimes are wrong, his ingenuity is amazing. He was good enough for the government to cut a deal with him. That's Tom Sawyer with more pluck and style. We wish were that smart and suave. This creates morality layers, but a book worth reading and thinking about.
Read "Catch Me If You Can," then see the movie.
Anthony Trendl
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast,Entertaining Read About a Slimeball, Jan. 4 2004
I had seen the movie before reading this book, so I knew the basic story. I was glad to see though,that Mr. Abagnale went right to the good stuff without trying to justify or explain himself. It was interesting that his first con was his father, charging thousands of dollars on a loaned gas card for phony repairs and pocketing the cash, and how seemingly quickly and easily his father forgave him.
His cons were amazing in their audacity and intelligence. Frank has a very sharp mind, but it soon became apparent that his greatest asset was his charisma. Everyone instantly liked this handsome and personable young man and just wanted to believe his claims. Had he been twice as smart, but half as charming, I doubt he could have pulled off everything he did.
It was easy to enjoy reading about his ripping off of large companies(Pan-Am particularly),hotels and banks, but it became less fun when he began stealing directly from everyday people. Once,lurking around a bank where he had just opened an account, he noticed people often did not put their account number on their deposit slips. Being the enterprising young man that he was, he swiped a few dozen slips and wrote HIS account number in. He then replaced the slips. When he checked his account later, he had over forty thousand dollars in his balance. He made a withdrawal and got out of Dodge.
Another such incident took place in Boston. Amazingly, on the same day he more or less conned his way out of jail, hours before the FBI arrived for him, he decided to rob a bank. Not with a gun, but with a sack and a uniform. He bought a authentic security guard uniform from the supplier, obtained a holster and (fake) gun, went to the bank, put a sign over the night deposit reading; Out of Order,Please Leave Deposit with Officer, and stood in front of it with a sack. He got over sixty thousand dollars deposited in his bag.
This is the one that really got me. He said this money was in small bills, so it's not rich businessmen he's stealing from, it's people who need the money, for rent,food,gas, and their children. And here he is smiling in their faces, patting himself on the back for being clever.
This did catch up to him,however. He eventually was caught in Montpellier,France. He had pulled numerous scams in France and the rest of Europe(all over Earth,actually) and thought to retire. I doubt his retirement would have lasted,but he is caught when one of the innumerable stewardesses he had dallied with recognized him and turned him in.
The penal system in France at that time seems to have been incomprehensibly barbaric. It was so unbelievable that I did some research on the subject to confirm it. I won't go into it here, but Frank spent a very unpleasant six months jailed in France. He was then transferred to the country club prisons of Sweden. The contrast was mind-numbing as to how two countries had such a radically different approach to incarceration. Anyway, this consideration was wasted on Frank. After his term in Sweden he was due to go to Italy, where the prisons were just as bad as in France,if not worse. The Swedish officials asked the American Embassy to revoke his passport,so he could be deported to the US instead.
This led to perhaps his most daring escape. When the plane hit the runway, Frank was in the restroom, pulling out the toilet and shimmying out the bottom of the plane. He ran off the tarmac unnoticed and used the twenty American dollars a kind female Swedish officer had given him for snacks to take a cab out of there.
Once caught in France though, Frank's luck had seemingly run out. He was recaptured,but escaped again. Very cleverly, but he just couldn't evade the authorities forever.
This is where the book ends,rather abruptly. A epilogue where it tells how he was eventually caught for good, served five years in an American penitentiary, and was let out with the understanding that he would henceforth use his powers for good would have been appreciated.
In closing, this book was highly entertaining and you can probably finish it in one day. Don't believe everything you read though. Because I wouldn't doubt that Frank is still pulling a scam of some sort. I hope he didn't make any money off the movie or new editions of this book, but he probably did. Crime can still pay for Frank Abagnale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get past the first 30 pages, you'll be fine., Dec 21 2003
By 
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
A scan of a number of reviews, say that they found the beginning of the book to come off as very arrogant, etc. I definitely agree with this. It moves quickly enough to be interesting, but my first reaction was "he sure does like the sound of his voice."
But keep reading. While he never completely gets rid of that attitude, by the time you're 50 pages in, you're hooked (likely sooner) and the last 50 pages or so of the book are simply excellent. It's interesting to read the details of how he conned others, as well as his own code of ethics. Also, I'm sure many of these gaps have been filled, yet there are just newer and higher tech ways to scam people. The story about the stewardesses travelling with him, was just astounding. Ultimately he was punished--boy was he---and paid his debt to society. The entire story is very fast paced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Was a Teenage Con Man, Dec 11 2003
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
I love a good scam, ever since I saw The Sting when it first came out. So I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading Catch Me If You Can. I saw the movie first, and it was great. But the book is better.
Abagnale goes into great detail about how he pulled off his frauds and this really made it click for me. In spite of all the intracacies of bank ins-and-outs, for instance, the story moves fast. You just can't wait to find out how Abagnale will get away with his current scam or if he will finally get caught. He actually does spend some time in prison and even that is fascinating, if a more than a little gritty.
Even if you've seen the movie, you will want to read this book, because the stories Abagnale tells are a notch better than the ones in the film, if only because things get condensed in a movie. The story of how he recruited a phony batch of stewardesses for a European tour, which was a good scene in the movie, was much better in the book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank W. Abagnale: One Captivating Story From Page One!, Nov. 26 2003
By 
Michael Gordon "Michael Gordon" (Los Angeles, Ca) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Catch Me If You Can (Paperback)
When you start reading Frank W. Abagnale's thrilling autobiography, it is hard to believe the events actually happened. But indeed they did. Typically, an autobiography will contain many slow narratives that are rather dull.
Abagnale is anything but dull. Born with an IQ clearly higher than the average man, he always was focused on getting around the rules--first, with his dad's credit card. It is clear that the beginning stages of his life of crime started when he was able to successfully get away with small infractions such as these. Later, Abagnale would resort to check fraud, and due to the lax restrictions on checks, get away with it. An ample lesson to banks and security experts: always try to think of every possible scenario because someone will exploit the situation.
The fact that he was able to get onto airlines, without paying, and sit in the cockpit is a sign that there have been many loopholes in our national airline security for quite some time. Now, Abagnale is no terrorist, but as the book explains, this still does not excuse the airlines for allowing mistakes of this sort to go through. It shows the incompetence of our bureacracies and that little has been done since this book has come off the press.
Even more ironic, and perhaps most damning to professors in our "higher learning" institutions, is that he was able to be a professor and gain wide recognition from the students. This is an indication that our professors really don't have any special expertise and merely read and paraprase what they are told. This is a damaging book to all those in authority--it a sign that one single individual, with a mission, is able to exploit the weakneseses out of our collective incompetence and stupidity. Yet, of course there is a consequence for the individual who engangse in these acts.
The French apparently have lousy prison systems, a surprise considering their typical weak image. Perhaps that is just hypocritical of our "friends" the French. But, I knew that Sweden's prison system had to be pretty much like a hotel. Look at the country: considering that Sweden is one large welfare state, it made sense that it would extend to the prison suite, too.
There was a lot of thought placed into this book. When reading it, you can almost feel the FBI agents running to finally catch Abagnale. . . and when they do, it's quite ironic how they let him get away--yet again.
I am glad, however, that Abagnale is a productive member of our society and is providing security information to private companies and the federal government. It takes a person who had lived such a life to help us solve today's incredible crimes.
Michael Gordon
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Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can by Stan Redding (Paperback - Aug. 1 2000)
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