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Reformed Con Artist to Teach Wisconsinites How to Avoid Scams

Frank Abagnale was a notorious con artist, but now helps others from becoming victims of fraud.(WikiMediaCommons)
Frank Abagnale was a notorious con artist, but now helps others from becoming victims of fraud.
August 29, 2019

MADISON, Wis. – With ever changing technology, con artists keep finding new tactics to scam people out of their hard earned cash or steal their identity.

Next month, Wisconsinites can learn from one of the best about how they can fight back.

Frank Abagnale is a reformed con artist who was depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 movie "Catch Me if You Can."

Courtney Anclam, a senior program specialist with AARP Wisconsin, says Abagnale will be sharing his unique knowledge on how to spot and avoid scams at an upcoming event

"Between the ages of 16 and 21, Frank Abagnale was cashing millions in fraudulent checks,” Anclam states. “He's been working with the FBI as an adviser for over 40 years, he's written a number of books and a lot of different organizations use his information for training."

Abagnale will give a free presentation Sept. 12 at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. Seats are limited so registration is required. More information can be found at

AARP's online Fraud Watch Network also is a resource to help people learn about the latest frauds and scams going around.

Anclam says a popular one right now involves imposters who call and impersonate the Social Security Administration or the IRS.

"They'll say, 'You owe us money, and if you don't pay, we're going to send the police to your home,'” she relates. “They use a lot of fear and intimidation to get people to either give up personal information or to send them money directly."

Anclam says anyone can become a fraud victim, as young people are scammed just as often as older people.

"But we find that the older population has a lot more money to lose, and so they're often targeted more often by scammers, so it's really important for them to recognize the signs and know what to do if they do find themselves in that situation," she explains.

Along with identify theft and financial fraud, Anclam adds that cybercrimes are rapidly growing in Wisconsin and across the country.

Wisconsinites can better protect their digital identity by putting a security freeze in place with the three credit bureaus; setting up online access to all financial accounts and regularly monitoring them; and using unique passwords for each account.

Disclosure: AARP Wisconsin contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - WI