4 min read ⌚
MicroSummary: “Catch Me If You Can” by Frank W. Abagnale and Stan Redding is the book upon which the 2002 Spielberg thriller is based. So you know the story: an FBI agent tries to catch the greatest con-artist in history. The latter is merely a teenager.
The True Story of a Real Fake
Told by himself.
And retold by GetNugget.co.
About Frank W. Abagnale and Stan Redding
Frank William Abagnale Jr. is a former check forger and impostor, who, between the ages of 16 and 21, managed to successfully assume no less than eight identities. After spending five years in prison, he is currently a respected authority on similar matters working as an FBI consultant and as a CEO of Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.
Stan Redding helped Abagnale write this book.
“Catch Me If You Can Summary”
Have you watched “Catch Me If You Can”?
If yes – read further for a quick recap.
If no – you better! It’s a great movie, which was lauded by both critics and the general audience. It’s two and a half hours long, but it’d feel like it’s 30 minutes; which, we guess, is the ultimate compliment for a thriller.
And, oh, we almost forgot: spoiler alert!
Frank Abagnale was 16 years old when he learned that his parents were about to divorce. He didn’t take the news lightly. In fact, he ran away from home to New York.
But, don’t you worry about him!
You see, Abagnale has the face of someone at least ten years older, and it soon dawns on him that he may as well use this to his benefit. And he does: he starts pretending to be a 26-year-old person, cashing in checks (it’s 1963, by the way) from an empty bank account.
New York banks start asking questions, so Abagnale decides that it’s time to leave the Big Apple. He does some research, and soon he is capable of forging himself a pilot license!
Why would a pilot license save him?
Well, because pilots have the right to fly for free. And, Frank abused this right to the max! He went from town to town, cashing checks wherever he could, making friends and wooing girls.
Sometime later, he settles in River Band. His nosy neighbor is a bit suspicious of his pilot background, so he tells him that he’s, in fact, a doctor. To his amazement, his neighbor is as well.
Frank has to act quickly and – you’ve guessed it! – he forges a doctor’s license. And starts pretending to be a doctor at the local hospital. There he falls in love with a nurse named Brenda Strong. However, he can’t stay for long, because, by this time, the FBI is on his trail.
So, he leaves again.
And after forging a Harvard diploma and passing the Louisiana bar exam (yes, he did for real!), Abagnale gets a job at the Louisiana State Attorney General’s office. He’s nineteen at the time.
By the time of his twentieth birthday, he has to leave this job as well, because, to his misfortune, a real Harvard Law school graduate works at the same place and starts investigating his background.
With the FBI behind his heel, the United States is too small for Abagnale. So, he flies to France. And what the FBI can’t do, the French police can: Frank is confined in an inhumane cell in Perpignan’s prison.
Six months later, he is moved to Sweden, where, well, they have prisons more beautiful than most of our homes. After another six months, he is transferred to the USA, where he tries to escape twice, but is caught in both cases.
However, he serves only a third of his 12-year prison sentence. Released on good behavior, he decides that he can use his talents in a better way.
So, he starts teaching bank employees how to recognize fake checks.
Because, after all, nobody has ever forged them better than him.
Key Lessons from “Catch Me If You Can”
1. Frank Abagnale Was 8 People Before the Age of 21
2. If You Have a Class, Even Crime Is Not Such a Big Deal
3. There’s a Better Way to Use Your Talents
Frank Abagnale Was 8 People Before the Age of 21
When you’re a teenager, you may have problems living your own life. As recounted in “Catch Me If You Can,” Frank Abagnale lived the life of at least eight people. And most of them had very different professions! Before being caught, Abagnale was a Pan Am pilot, an attorney, a teacher, and a doctor.
And he managed to fool everybody – including the FBI!
If You Have a Class, Even Crime Is Not Such a Big Deal
This is a paraphrase of a sentence written by Abagnale himself. You can find it verbatim in the quotes section. Simply put, we are irrationally biased towards classy people. Have that in mind the next time you shower praises on Tony Montana. The film is actually about his depravity.
There’s a Better Way to Use Your Talents
Frank Abagnale could have used his talents for a good cause from the very start. In fact, if he had done that, he may have lived in a much calmer way. You see, he currently earns almost as much money as he was forging when he was young. Legally.
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“Catch Me If You Can” QuotesI learned early that class is universally admired. Almost any fault, sin or crime is considered more leniently if there's a touch of class involved. Click To Tweet When you're up there, hundreds of people will claim you as a friend. When you're down, you're lucky if one will buy you a cup of coffee. Click To Tweet A man's alter ego is nothing more than his favorite image of himself. Click To Tweet Modesty is not one of my virtues. At the time, virtue was not one of my virtues. Click To Tweet Of course, as someone once observed, there is no right way to do something wrong. Click To Tweet