Triple-digit temperatures and notoriously busy Dallas-Fort Worth traffic were no match for 1,074 citizens who attended an evening event featuring Frank W. Abagnale at the Eisemann Center in Richardson on August 15, sponsored by AARP.
Abagnale, a former con artist turned FBI informant whose exploits were featured in the Hollywood film Catch Me If You Can, dazzled spectators with accounts of the scams he pulled off between the ages of 15 and 21 as well as practical advice on protection against the latest scams.
The event was well-publicized in the DFW metro area on radio, TV, print and digital, in partnership with AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. A volunteer/staff planning committee, led by Associate State Director Susan Williams, worked to build excitement and interest in the community and executed the logistics for the evening.
One of the key learnings from the event was this: Every scam, regardless of origin or nature, has two things in common: First, the scammer will ask for money – usually with urgency – and second, the scammer will ask for information, such as identifying personal data which may include your Social Security number.
After his multiple arrests and prison time early in his life, Abagnale has spent a lifetime trying to live a purposeful life, repaying his debts to the government and society. He has been married to the same woman for 43 years. His three sons were born in Texas and one of them currently lives in Richardson with his wife, who has been an AARP Texas volunteer for several months.
Abagnale has been touring the country over the past five years in collaboration with AARP to educate consumers on scams, ID theft and fraud. Following the event, he sent a congratulatory note to the organizing team thanking them for “drawing the largest attendance so far in the five years and 40 states where we have presented.” In total, 1800 people registered and an additional 300 were placed on a waitlist.
Earlier in the day, Abagnale participated in an hour-long tele-town hall meeting with 2,626 participants who spent an average of 11 minutes on the call.
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