Monday, May 19, 2008

Retail Operations Memo: A Former Master Check Forger Warns of A Common Supermarket Swindle

For at least a couple decades of his adult life, Frank Abagnale (pictured at left) was a crook; and a very good one at that.

During his career as a master con man and forgery expert, Abagnale says he passed about $2.5 million of phony checks in every U.S. state and 26 counties globally.

The master forger, who's life as a confidence man was the inspiration for the movie Catch Me If You Can, saw the light and reformed himself.

Today he's on the opposite side of the fence as a teacher at the FBI Academy, where he trains law enforcement officers from throughout the U.S. and the world on how to catch sophisticated confidence men like he once was.

Abagnale tells Luke Mullins, who writes "The Collar," a U.S. News and World Report magazine regular column about white collar crime, that check forgery is an even bigger problem today than it was during the era when the master-forger passed $2.5 million worth of phony paper throughout the U.S. and world.

Abagnale also says in the column one of the best venues for passing bad paper are the courtesy counters or booths in supermarkets.

He says such in-store courtesy booths or counters like those operated by Kroger Co. and Safeway Stores, Inc. often are the perfect place for a sophisticated forger to pass bad checks, especially when that forger creates realistic looking phony checks from one or more of a city or region's major employers.

Read the piece, "How Frank Abagnale Would Swindle You," from today's U.S. News' "The Collar" column here. Pay particular attention to the text below this sub-heading: So let's say you're a fraudster looking to make a couple of quick bucks, what might be a scam you would run?

That's where the former confidence man and professional fake paper-hanger turned teacher of law enforcement officers details the supermarket courtesy booth scam.

Abagnale's description of the supermarket courtesy booth check-kiting scam gives new meaning to the question: paper or plastic, doesn't it?

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