Famous FBI Conman Helps Bank Fight Fraud

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Before Leonardo DiCaprio captured the life of Frank Abagnale in the Hollywood blockbuster Catch Me if You Can, the FBI had to capture him first. Abagnale, the famous conman turned FBI fraud consultant, is now sharing his anti-fraud expertise in a series of videos on Nevada State Bank’s website.

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Pictured from left to right: Frank Abignale, the conman turned fraud fighter, Leondardo Decaprio, who played Abignale in ‘Catch Me if You Can,’ and Tom Hanks, who played the FBI agent who busted Abignale. You should watch ‘Catch Me If You Can’ when you can. It’s a great movie.

Nevada State Bank hired Abagnale, who is frequently brought in to educate bank employees, to act as a broader spokesman for the bank’s fraud prevention program. There are nine videos total:

Abagnale’s fraud tips provide expertise and perspective only someone with his particular background and unique experiences can bring. He provides tips on several areas of fraud concern for both businesses and consumers, deliver insights that are inexpensive and easily implemented.

For instance, businesses that have an employee who has committed fraud, Abagnale suggests filing an IRS form 1099 for the amount of the fraud. Between the tax liability and the IRS hound dogs, it can be  enough for a perpetrator to negotiate restitution, even when criminal prosecution fails to return stolen funds.

In one of the more interesting topics, Frank walks through the simple theft of a cell phone bill payment, subsequent bleaching of the check’s written information, then how that information can be replaced — all with the original signature still on the check.He says that a $150 Mount Blanc can’t help you here. The only thing that works: The Uni-ball 207 which sells for about $2 at any drug store is the only pen with ink that can’t be washed out by any chemical.

Abagnale recommends using “Positive Pay” software to guard businesses against check fraud. The program provides a business’s bank with a list of the checks it writes, with payee, check number and amount listed. Since the bank knows what to expect, unless all three of those items on a submitted check match, the bank will not provide payment on that check.

Abagnale advocates using a credit card, not debit card for all daily transactions. It assures against purchase disputes, inappropriate use of your card, and can even boost the credit ratings of your children when they use a supplemental card off of your credit card during their college days.

He goes on to suggest that for home document destruction, the micro-cut shredder is the only style of document shredder one should consider. He came to that conclusion based on the time it took to reconstruct documents or credit cards shredded with a ribbon or diamond cut shredder. Abagnale’s FBI team was able to successfully restore such documents to recreate evidence in their Enron Worldcom, Tyco International Arthur Anderson investigations. Only the micro-cut model of home shredder shreds in a way that can’t be reconstructed.

Certainly, all banks are concerned with identity theft and fraud, and do what they can to protect their customers from such dangers. A program like this is a great example of how an institution can take an issue common to all banks and use it to position themselves as leaders in the industry.

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