Scams cause damage that can last for yearsBefore his 19th birthday, Frank W. Abagnale had cashed millions of dollars from fraudulent checks in the guise of a Pan Am pilot, doctor and prosecutor. The FBI eventually caught him, and then hired him. In February, Abagnale celebrated 36 years as a consultant in the areas of fraud and white collar crimes. In that time, he has been associated with the FBI and has taught at the FBI Academy and the FBI’s field offices across the country. He specializes in securing documents from being counterfeited or replicated. Abagnale, who lives in Tulsa, works with numerous printing companies around the world to secure everything from currency, credit cards, birth certificates, car titles, pharmaceuticals, luxury items and doctors’ prescription pads. He said e-mail scams are a problem and a nuisance and added that people often give away information and respond to these e-mails. "That is why in my opinion it is extremely important that the media, financial institutions, government agencies and law enforcement educate the public about these scams,” he said. Abagnale emphasized that once a person gives away their information, and it is misused for fraud or criminal activity, it can take literally years to repair. On average, people will spend 175 man hours and more than $1,000 repairing their credit, Abagnale said.
Just looking out for meIn addition to bountiful opportunities, the 21 e-mails I received offered advice. In one e-mail, a man claiming to be in London suggested I get in touch with him and not communicate with those who were working an "elaborate global scam.” A scam? At least I could trust him, or not. "I can’t stress this enough, no lending institution, bank, or other authority would ever ask for this information in an unsecure venue like an e-mail,” Manista said. "I don’t care what the message says or what reasons it gives. If you’re concerned about the message, call whatever institution it is and ask questions. "The con men are very good at creating panic, but don’t lose your head.” Or your money.