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“I stole $2.5 million. Today it would be more like $20 million”: Infamous conman Frank Abagnail warns how easy it can be to steal an identity on Facebook


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

March 20, 2013 | 2 min read

Frank Abagnail, an ex-conman who now works for the FBI, has warned people of how easy it can be to steal an identity using social media sites, such as Facebook.

Abagnail became well known after Steven Spielberg directed a bio of his life starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Speaking to the Guardian at Advertising Week Europe, Abagnail explained how technology is facilitating identity theft.

Comparing today to his experiences in the 1960s he said that “back then, to steal an identity you needed to do a lot of research”, describing the laborious task of tracking down information.

He continued to explain: “The difference today is I don’t have to make any of those trips, I can just get on the internet, on public sites and get all kinds of information about an individual.

“Technology breeds crime. It always has, it always will. There will always be people willing to use technology in self-serving ways.”

He said: “In the US we have about 10 million children on Facebook. If you have your picture on Facebook, there is facial recognition software like PicTac where I’m able to go to your Facebook page.

“So if I snap your picture and have from your Facebook page where you were born and your date of birth, I’m already 98 per cent there to stealing your identity.”

When asked how social media would have helped him back in the 60s he said: “Well, I stole $2.5 million between 16 and 21 [years old]. Today it would be more like $20 million.”

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