Frank Abagnale: Catch Me If You Can @ Talks at Google (Transcript)

Frank Abagnale

Here is the full transcript of American security consultant Frank Abagnale’s talk: Catch Me If You Can @ Talks at Google conference. 

Frank Abagnale: American security consultant

Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here this morning.

I’m gonna ask your indulgence on two things. It’s allergy season, so I have a real hard time during this time of the year speaking. And two, most of the speaking I do when I walk up to the podium is very technical. It deals with cyber crime and identity theft, forgery, embezzlements, and things of that nature. I don’t often talk about my life.

But Google has asked me today to do something different and talk a little bit about my life. So I will do that. And then at the end, of course, I’ll take questions. And those questions can be about any subject matter that you like to ask. As you know, I’ve had a lot of people tell my story.

I had a great movie director write a film about my life. I had a great Broadway musical team make a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about my life. Had a popular television show on TV, “White Collar,” for four years created around my life. And most of those very creative people have actually never met me personally. But they’ve enjoyed telling my story from their point of view.

So I thought I would take a few minutes this morning and actually tell you the story from my point of view. I was raised just north of New York City in Westchester County, New York. I was actually one of four children in the family, the so-called middle child of the four. I was educated there by the Christian Brothers of Ireland in a private Catholic school called Iona where I went to school from kindergarten to high school.

By the time I had reached the age of 16, in the 10th grade, my parents after 22 years of marriage one day decided to get a divorce. Unlike most divorces where the children were usually the first to know, my parents were very good about keeping that a secret.

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I remember being in the 10th grade when the father walked in the classroom one afternoon, asked a brother to excuse me from class. When I came out in the hallway, the father handed me my books and told me that one of the brothers would drive me to the county seat in White Plains, New York where I would meet my parents, and they would explain what was going on.

I remember the brother dropped me at the steps of a big stone building and told me to go on up the steps where my parents would be waiting for me in the lobby. I remember climbing the steps, seeing a sign on the building that said “Family Court”. But I really didn’t understand what that meant.

When I arrived in the lobby, my parents were not there. But I was ushered into the back of an immense courtroom where my parents were standing before a judge. I couldn’t hear what the judge was saying, nor my parents’ response. But eventually, the judge saw me at the back of the room and motioned me to approach the bench.

So I walked up the stand in between my parents. I remember distinctly that the judge never looked at me. He never acknowledged. I was standing there. He simply read from his papers and said that my parents were getting a divorce. And because I was 16 years of age, I would need to tell the court which parent I chose to live with.

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