Comments from Frank W. Abagnale Concerning the book and the film, Catch Me If You Can.
I feel it is necessary to make the following statements concerning the book and the upcoming film, Catch Me If You Can. The reasons for these statements are to provide clarification and accuracy.
I wrote the book, Catch Me If You Can, more than 23 years ago. Obviously, this was written from my perspective as a 16-year old with the help of a co-writer (I'm now 54 and I sold the movie rights in 1980). I was interviewed by the co-writer only about four times. I believe he did a great job of telling the story, but he also over dramatized and exaggerated some of the story. That was his style and what the editor wanted. He always reminded me that he was just telling a story and not writing my biography. This is one of the reasons that from the very beginning, I insisted the publisher put a disclaimer in the book and tapes.
It has been reported that I had written $10 million, $8 million and $5 million worth of bad checks. The actual amount was $2.5 million. I was never on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List as this is reserved for very violent criminals who pose a threat to society. All of the crimes I committed were when I was between the ages 16 and 21. I served time in prison in France, Sweden and the United States. In the U. S. Federal Court, I was sentenced as a youthful offender because of my age at the time the crimes were committed. Even so, I was given 12 years of which I served a total of 5 years. This was considered harsh punishment then and almost unheard of today.
I have been married for over 25 years and I am the proud father of 3 sons. When I was 28 years old, I thought it would be great to have a movie about my life, but when I was 28, like when I was 16, I was egotistical and self-centered. We all grow up. Hopefully we get wiser. Age brings wisdom and fatherhood changes one's life completely. I consider my past immoral, unethical and illegal. It is something I am not proud of. I am proud that I have been able to turn my life around and in the past 25 years, helped my government, my clients, thousands of corporations and consumers deal with the problems of white collar crime and fraud.
I know that Hollywood has made a number of changes to the story, but I am honored that Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks participated in the making of the movie inspired by my life. It is important to understand that it is just a movie . . .not a biographical documentary.
Frank W. Abagnale
September 3, 2002