In the 1970s, Frank Abagnale Jr. forged and scammed 2.5 million dollars before he was caught and convicted. However, it wasn’t just his genius that allowed him to commit these crimes with such finesse. Frank Abagnale Jr. was a pilot, doctor, and lawyer all before he turned 18 because he was extremely skilled at deception and persuasion. As seen in his track record, a string of arrests across the US and Europe, for car theft, fraud, and impersonation, along with several other lesser crimes, most of which he evaded. There is no doubt that Frank Abagnale Jr was a criminal. But was he also an artist?
The art of persuasion is aptly named, it comes in many different forms but is generally referred to as the act of getting someone to think or act in the way one wants. It requires techniques beyond the conventional. Often art is used to persuade people, whether that was the intention of the artist or not, i.e. (Propaganda and advertising). Art can come in as many forms as can be imagined. This includes performance art and even impressions. Forgery is also art for it takes a certain amount of skill and creativity to recreate something to perfection and to convince someone else that it’s real. Especially in the 1960s and 70s, the skills needed to forget the checks as Frank did require great study and mastery.
That being said, in this case, the forgery that Frank committed, might not be classified as art forgery since the checks that he forged had little to do with art, but he did convince many they were real. From big banks, and hotels, to Pan Am airlines. The art of this case is the persuasion and deception that Frank utilized. Unlike most crooks and thieves, the crime of the con man is the efficacy of his words. While his check forgeries were undeniably good. There is an art form in being able to make someone want to help you. Frank was able to convince people that he was meant to be wherever he was and that the check he was cashing was obviously real. As an airplane pilot Frank didn’t actually fly any planes, instead he used all the perks that come with being a part of the airline industry, traveling around the united states. Similarly, with impersonating a Doctor, he required no real medical skill, just the authority, and confidence to direct those who did. In all of these personas, he was able to cash checks with little to no investigations due to his authority positions, it wasn’t until the checks bounced that he was in trouble.
While in the end Frank was caught and sent to jail, he was let out very early on parole and helped the FBI on cases involving forgery and check frauds. Frank Abagnale Jr. is now a successful consultant, who has left crime behind. He has written several books and often does public talks about check fraud. Yet, it’s still unknown how much of his story is real, considering his past penchant for deception, it’s more than likely much of his story is embellished, or so say those who were scammed.