“Catch Me If You Can” Con Artist Says Education is Key to Protection
Against Senior Investment Fraud
Frank Abagnale, the notorious con artist who inspired Steven Spielberg’s
“Catch Me If You Can,” told a Senate panel earlier this month
that education – not regulation – is the key to protecting
seniors from investment fraud, adding that the scams he pulled 40 years
ago would be “4,000 times easier to do today due to technology.”
The panel hearing was aimed at preventing financial scams and investment
fraud schemes that target the elderly –investment scams and schemes that are on the rise across the country.
Abagnale, who has spent the last 36 years teaching fraud detection techniques
to the FBI, said public service announcements that point out common scams
and tell seniors how to avoid them would help protect elderly investors.
Though regulators obviously believe in using regulation to protect fraud
victims, they, too, believe that education is essential in the fight against fraud.
“Whether a cold-call, polished website, or e-mail solicitation, fraudsters
will use every means at their disposal to convince investors to part with
their money,” SEC Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami said recently.
“That is why investor education is so critical—in maintaining
financial health as much as physical health, an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of cure.”
In keeping with that belief, the SEC, FINRA, NASAA, and other regulators
have been working hard to bolster investor education – especially
among seniors. Over the past year alone, regulators have increased investor
education efforts by:
free investor fraud summits across the country;
• Hosting free investement alert webinars to teach investors about the risks of certain complex, high-risk products;
• Issuing warnings against “free lunch seminars,” and
• Increasing the power and scope of
free online investor research tools and websites, like
BrokerCheck and Investor.gov.
To learn how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from investment
fraud, browse our investor library or order a FREE copy of our important
investor guide: Five Signs of Investment Fraud … And What to Do
if It’s Happened to You.