суббота, 23 апреля 2011 г.

104. Frank Abagnale tops the list of 10 most infamous conmen

Have you ever met a conman?* A conman is a swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim. Have you ever fallen prey to the cunning schemes of such a scammer? In Russian we would call this person Остап Бендер (Ostap Bender), named after a famous character from Ilf and Petrov's books. Let us not think, however, that such conmen are only a product of Odessa. There are people like that living all over the world, and one of them, an American, was not only able to cheat money out of thousands of people and be on a payroll at the jobs for which he had never been trained, but after all his courts, jail sentences and escapes, was approached by the FBI with an offer to start working for a government service! Talk about American dream...

When young Frank Abagnale (far left in the picture) took possession of his father's credit card to buy car parts that he later sold at a lower price to some gas stations, he did not think about the consequences. However, after spending 4 months for fraud at the juvenile correctional facility, Frank continued making money by producing fake checks that were safely deposited into his account. Apart from that, he managed to play roles of a pilot and a doctor, a lawyer and a teacher for extensive periods of time without being detected! He was eventually imprisoned but escaped within a short periods of time. When hunted down by a sizable FBI group, he was offered a clean criminal record in exchange for his free services to the Government to help catch fraud and scam artists. Mr. Abagnale now runs his own company which helps prevent fraudulent activity and has assisted FBI with his expertise in this area for over 35 years. He considers his past shameful and immoral and is glad to have had an opportunity to turn his life around.

In the beginning of the 21st century Frank Abagnale's story inspired famous film director Stephen Spielberg and prompted him to make a movie Catch Me If You Can about Frank Abagnale's life. Please, watch the trailer and complete the assignments below.

* A "conman" is a slang term for "confidence man" and can be written as two separate words "con man" as well as one word.