Identity theft expert Frank Abagnale describes how technology has made fraud trivially easy:
Abagnale was subject of the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which depicted his exploits as a teenager in the 60s, posing as an airline pilot to live the glamorous life of a jet-setter around the world, until he was caught.
Abagnale, now a security consultant, helps companies and the FBI block the kinds of fraud he used to commit. He spoke in Florida recently:
To illustrate, he pulled up a copy of a mortgage document he obtained electronically about Porter Goss, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. representative from Florida. The Social Security numbers of Goss and his wife were part of the document, though they were crossed out on the PowerPoint screen onstage.
''Technology breeds crime,'' said Abagnale, who designed the birth certificate form now used in Florida. There are ''no con men anymore because the victim will never see them. They can be a thousand miles away.'' While banks and companies lose laptops and other records containing sensitive personal information, kids with cellphones secretly shoot pictures of checks being written in checkout lines of grocery stores. They can blow up the images on a computer and get all the information they need to commit bank fraud.
''Fraud has just gotten easier,'' he said. ``I never in my life saw a simpler crime.''