Summary and book reviews of The Art of The Steal by Frank Abagnale

The Art of The Steal

How to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Fraud, America's #1 Crime

By Frank W. Abagnale

The Art of The Steal
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2001,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2002,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

The world--famous former con artist and bestselling author of Catch Me if You Can now reveals the mind--boggling tricks of the scam trade--with advice that has made him one of America's most sought--after fraud--prevention experts.

"I had as much knowledge as any man alive concerning the mechanics of forgery, check swindling, counterfeiting, and other similar crimes. Ever since I'd been released from prison, I'd often felt that if I directed this knowledge into the right channels, I could help people a great deal. Every time I went to the store and wrote a check, I would see two or three mistakes made on the part of the clerk or cashier, mistakes that a flimflam artist would take advantage of. . . . In a certain sense, I'm still a con artist. I'm just putting down a positive con these days, as opposed to the negative con I used in the past. I've merely redirected the talents I've always possessed. I've applied the same relentless attention to working on stopping fraud that I once applied to perpetuating fraud."

In Catch Me if You Can, Frank W. Abagnale recounted his youthful career as a master imposter and forger. In The Art of the Steal, Abagnale tells the remarkable story of how he parlayed his knowledge of cons and scams into a successful career as a consultant on preventing financial foul play--while showing you how to identify and outsmart perpetrators of fraud.

Technology may have made it easier to track down criminals, but cyberspace has spawned a skyrocketing number of ways to commit crime--much of it untraceable. Businesses are estimated to lose an unprecedented $400 billion a year from fraud of one sort or another. If we were able to do away with fraud for just two years, we'd erase the national debt and pay Social Security for the next one hundred years. However, Abagnale has discovered that punishment for committing fraud, much less recovery of stolen funds, seldom happens: Once you're a victim, you won't get your money back. Prevention is the best form of protection.

Drawn from his twenty-five years of experience as an ingenious con artist (whose check scams alone mounted to more than $2 million in stolen funds), Abagnale's The Art of the Steal provides eye-opening stories of true scams, with tips on how they can be prevented. Abagnale takes you deep inside the world and mind of the con artist, showing you just how he pulled off his scams and what you can do to avoid becoming the next victim. You'll hear the stories of notorious swindles, like the mustard squirter trick and the "rock in the box" ploy, and meet the criminals like the famous Vickers Gang who perpetrated them. You'll find out why crooks wash checks and iron credit cards and why a thief brings glue with him to the ATM. And finally, you'll learn how to recognize a bogus check or a counterfeit bill, and why you shouldn't write your grocery list on a deposit slip.
A revealing look inside the predatory criminal mind from a former master of the con, The Art of the Steal is the ultimate defense against even the craftiest crook.

Chapter 1


PUTTING DOWN A POSITIVE CON

There's this thing they always say about con men: they live a chameleon existence. That was certainly true for me. I'd find myself in an unfamiliar situation and I'd quickly adapt. And that's just what I did when they sent me to prison. I adapted to the role of prisoner, and I lived a life dictated by my imagination. In so many ways, the role felt small and unreal, when in fact it was the only real role I had lived in a long time.

Being cooped up in a confined space didn't suit me, so I sort of half-lived, numbed to my existence, waiting patiently for a second chance. My battle plan was to always be on my best behavior, in the hope that this would enable me to get out early. The problem was, the better I behaved, the more convinced the prison officials were that I was up to no good. Twice I came up for parole and was refused. One of the members of the review committee actually said to me, "I see that your ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
BookBrowse Says

We thought long and hard before recommending this book on BookBrowse, on the one hand someone could use it to learn techniques for scamming others (but then again most of these techniques are likely to be available on any number of websites accessible to those who wish to learn them). On the other hand this book has the potential to educate the rest of us on how to better protect ourselves.

Abagnale offers hundreds of tips on how to protect yourself against fraud. For example pens that supposedly test for forged notes are worse than useless because they simply test the Ph balance of the paper - and there are dozens of readily available papers that have a similar Ph balance to bank notes - and if they don't, a quick wipe with bleach will ensure that they do! Such pens are worse than useless because they give one a false sense of security - much better to be able to recognize the distinguishing characteristics of the different notes themselves. The Art of the Steal explains how to do this in detail with accompanying illustrations.

Abagnale constantly emphasizes the importance of protecting yourself and, if you have one, your business. In support of this he cites surveys that show that 10% of people will be honest whatever, 10% dishonest whatever, and 80% dishonest if an opportunity presents itself. In other words with 90% of people ready to take advantage of 'the system' if the opportunity presents itself it's the responsibility of individuals to take care of themselves and companies to ensure that they have best practices in place.

For example, the accounts department should have one person set up supplier accounts and another write the checks for the obvious reason that otherwise it is possible for a person to set up a false account and write checks to themselves. This may sound a little obvious, but Abagnale cites multiple examples of people who've done just that and got away with it for years. Possibly the simplest protection against office fraud is to insist that all employees take at least one week of vacation each year - it's difficult to maintain a complex scam if one isn't in the office regularly to maintain it!

Library Journal

This detailed and well-written book describes many types of scams, including those involving forged checks, stolen mail, and phony credit cards. After discussing each scam, the author advises on how to avoid it and offers photos to illustrate his points.

Reader Reviews
FB

5/5 a really nice book

henrock

Abagnale is a genius! Listen to what he has to say. If I could rate it a ten, I would.

Anonymous

Amazing ! I love this book !

George

What Frank pulled off is amazing. Awesome book. It will blow your mind away.

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