There are stories of conmen and then there is the story of Frank Abagnale. He was so skilled at being a con artist if we can take the liberty of calling him that, that a film was made on him, in which none other than Leonardo Di Caprio played his character and the real Frank was actually hired by the FBI to help them crack cases. Also, the movie was nominated for an Academy Award.

What was his age when he managed to commit frauds worth millions of dollars? Less than 19. Here is the story of the real Frank Abagnale, how he pulled off crimes that FBI did not even get a whiff of until people lost millions of dollars, how FBI brought him on board with them to solve crimes and how closely the movie resembles his life.

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The film Catch Me If You Can which release in 2002 garnered critical acclaim and was well received by the audiences. Caprio played a young international con man named Frank Abagnale Jr. who managed to fake multiple identities and deceive people of millions of dollars. Tom Hanks played Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent-in-charge of the case and Christopher Walken plays Frank Abagnale Sr. Surely, there could be no real con man who managed to fool the FBI for so long.But there actually was. 

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Yes, there is, in fact, a man who faked identities of a doctor from Georgia, a parish prosecutor from Louisiana and even a Pan American World Airways pilot and he was not even an adult. Interesting fact about the story is that though it covers how Frank manages to pull off the cons, it censors a lot of crazy schemes he used to execute his plans. It would have given the impressionable teenagers notorious ideas and the director wanted to avoid that.

How It All Began

Frank Abagnale Jr. took birth in a wealthy family on 27th April 1948. He grew up in New York under the shadow of a father who had a good reputation among the elites of the city. He observed his father and his way of managing the business, little could Abagnale Sr. would have known how his teenage son was going to put these tactics to use. Abagnale Jr. became increasingly inclined towards notoriety when things started stirring at home.

Things Heating Up

Frank’s parents met when Abagnale Sr. served during the World War II in French Algeria. She, Pauline, was French and was not well acquainted with the English language and he did not even know the meaning of “au revoir” in French. But they fell in love and got married but the cross-country relationship did not last long. Frank Jr. saw the tumult his parents’ relation went through. The parents separated when he was still a teenager and the event impacted him deeply, made him turn his attention to the crook world.

A Game

Swindling and stealing innocuously started as a game for Frank Jr. and the first victim of his trick was his own father. When he received a credit card from his father, for job purposes, he planned to do some other things with it. This was to be the beginning of many swindling crimes Abagnale was going to commit. He bought automobile parts from the credit card and resold them for cash. Where did his profit go? The attractive 16-year-old spent it all on dates with women. But what did it do that inspired a movie?

Running Away

16-year-old Frank was taken to court to have a say in his custody. He was asked which of his parents he sided with, the poor boy, instead of choosing between his parents, ran away. And life changed, forever after that. Once a settled boy in a wealthy family, Frank Jr. was now homeless and wandering the streets of Manhattan. He would never be able to see his father again in his life. And what he did for his survival?