90 Miles From Tyranny : 'Catch Me If You Can' conman warns over Facebook fraud

Friday, March 22, 2013

'Catch Me If You Can' conman warns over Facebook fraud

Frank Abagnale, the former conman portrayed in the Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can, has warned that data posted on Facebook is an invitation to identity thieves.

By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent 11:41 AM 21 Mar 20134 

He said the world’s biggest social network makes fraud easier, but blamed naïve members rather than Facebook itself, The Guardian reports.
"If you tell me your date of birth and where you're born [on Facebook] I'm 98 per cent [of the way] to stealing your identity," he said.
"Never state your date of birth and where you were born [on personal profiles], otherwise you are saying 'come and steal my identity'."
Abagnale, who now works as a security consultant, was the target of a US federal manhunt in the 1960s as he posed as an airline pilot, doctor and attorney to steal millions of dollars.
“What I did 40 years ago as a teenage boy is 4,000 times easier now,” he said, although he lamented that children lack some of the skill he developed because of their dependence on technology.

“If you took a child in London and took their iPhone and took them somewhere else in the country they'd probably not be able to find their way back. That's a shame,” he said.

Speaking at the Advertising Week conference in London, he urged Facebook members to educate themselves and their children about the risks of giving away personal information online.

“I'm not on it [Facebook, but] I have no problem with it,” he said. “I have three sons on it. I totally understand why people like it. But like every technology you have to teach children, it is an obligation of society to teach them how to use it carefully.”

"What [people] say on a Facebook page stays with them,” he said. "Every time you say you 'like' or 'don't like' you are telling someone [things like] your sexual orientation, ethnic background, voting record.”
A recent study showed that Facebook likes could be analysed to accurately determine such sensitive information even when members had chosen not to reveal it explicitly.

Now 64 years old, Abagnale, who was portrayed on screen by Leonardo Dicaprio, said he had paid back every penny he stole in his youth and rejected offers of Presidential pardons. Since his release from prison in 1974 he has advised the FBI on fraud and identity theft scams.

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