Frank Abagnale: "Catch Me If You Can" | Talks at Google

Frank Abagnale: "Catch Me If You Can" | Talks at Google

[Applause] good morning it's a pleasure to be here this morning and ask your indulgence on two things it's allergy season so I have a real hard time during this time of year speaking and to most of the speaking I do when I walk up to the podium is very technical it deals with cybercrime 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 that 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 I'd 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've 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 creating 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 tenth grade my parents after 22 years of marriage when they 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 I remember being in the tenth 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 and why 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 and my parents would be waiting for me in the lobby emember climbing the steps seeing a sign on the building it 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 to 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 I started to cry so I turned and ran out of the courtroom judge called for a 10-minute recess but by the time my parents got outside I was gone my mother never saw me again for about seven years until I was a young adult contrary to the movie my father never saw me where ever spoke to me again in the mid-1960s running away was very popular thing for young people a lot of them got caught up in haight-ashbury the hippie scene the drug scene instead I took a few belongings to my home packed him in a bag ordered what was in the New Haven and Hartford railroad for the short train ride down to Grand Central Terminal in New York my father did own the stationary store in Manhattan it was located on the corner of 40th and Madison like all of us we had to work in that store so from the time I was about 13 I made deliveries for my dad in the summer on a bike I knew the city very well so naturally I started looking for the same type of work there were a lot of signs on the window stock board delivery boy part-time I'd walk in and apply so tell me young man how old here at 16 how'd you go in high school at tenth grade I'll hire you now I went to work for a small amount of money a few hours a day but I soon realized that couldn't support myself on that amount of money I also realized as long as people believed I was 16 years old they weren't going to pay me any more money at 16 I was six foot tall I've always had a little gray hair my friends in school used to say that once a week when we dressed in a suit for mass I look more like a teacher so I decided to lie about my age in New York we had a driver's license at 16 back then it didn't have a photo on it just an IBM card so I altered one digit of my date of birth I was actually born in April of 1948 but I dropped the four converted it to a three and that made me 26 years old I walked around applying for the same type of work people gave me a little more money few more hours but even then it was very difficult to make ends meet one of the few things I had taken when I left home was a checkbook I had money from work on the summers I had some money in that checking account so every so often I would write a check to supplement my income $20 $25 the funds were there the checks were good but it was my friends my peers who would constantly say to me you know you're the only guy no walks into a bank in the middle of Manhattan you have no account there you don't know a soul you talked to somebody behind a desk and they okay your check oh well my checks are good yeah but if I walked in there they wouldn't touch my check you walk in there they don't bat an eye now years later reporters would write and speculate and say that that was my upbringing mannerisms dress appearance speech whatever it was was very easy to do so consequently when the money right now I kept writing those checks of course the cheque started to bounce please started looking for me as a runaway so I thought maybe it was a good time to start thinking about leaving New York City but I was quite apprehensive about going to Chicago or Miami wondered if they've cash in New York check on a New York driver's license in Miami as quickly as they did in Manhattan I was walking at 42nd Street when afternoon about five o'clock in the evening 16 years old pondering all of these things when I started to approach the front door of an old hotel that used to be there called the Commodore hotel now the Grand Hyatt just as I was about to get to the front door of the hotel out stepped in Eastern airline flight crew onto the sidewalk I couldn't help but notice the captain the copilot the flight engineer about three or four flight attendants dragging their bags to the curb to load him in the van to take them to the airport as they loaded the man I thought to myself that's it I could pose as a pilot I could travel all over the world for free I probably could get just about anybody anywhere to cash a check for me so I walked up the street little further to 42nd and Park went to cross over I heard a huge helicopter so I looked up and there was New York Airways landing on the roof for the Pan Am building Pan Am the nation's flag carrier the airline that flew around the world I thought what a perfect airline to use so the next day I placed a phone call to the executive corporate offices of Pan Am I remember distinctly when the phone was ringing I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say when they answered Pan American Airlines good morning can I help you yes ma'am I'd like to I'd like to speak to somebody in the purchasing department purchasing one moment the clerk came on and say yes American out me my name is John black I'm a co-pilot with the company based out of San Francisco been with the company about seven years but never had anything like this come up before what's the problem well we flew a trip in here yesterday we're going out later today yesterday I sent my uniform out through the hotel to have a dry clean now the hotel and the cleaners said they can't find it yeah I'm with the flight in about four hours new uniform don't you have a spare uniform certainly back home in San Francisco but I never get it in time for my flight I do understand this will cost you the price of uniform not the company that I understand hold on I'll be right back you came back and said my supervisor says you need to go down to the well-built uniform company on Fifth Avenue they're our supplier I'll call them let them know you're on the way well that's exactly what I wanted to know so I went down to the well-built Uniform Company little fella mr. Rosen fitted me out in the uniform that black gabardine with three gold stripes on the arm I certainly looked old enough to be the pilot when he was all done I said how much do you wear the uniforms 286 dollars said no problem I write you a check no we can't take any checks oh well they're not alum I'll just pay your cash now we can't accept cash you need to fill out this computer card then your needs boxes put your employee number then we build this back on the uniform allowance comes out of your necks payin em paycheck that's even better go ahead and do that New York had two airports LaGuardia and Kennedy LaGuardia was 20 minutes from Manhattan Kennedy was 50 naturally LaGuardia being the closer of the two that's where I went I spent most of the morning walking around LaGuardia in the uniform trying to figure out now that I had this uniform of the hell Deegan on these planes I got a little hungry so about lunchtime I walked in the luncheonette and the terminal sat down at the counter on the stool in order to sandwich moments later a TWA crew walked in the flight attendants sat in the booth but the pilots up at the counter on either side of me and captain right next to me now back before deregulation of the airlines airline people thought of themselves as just one big family so they didn't hesitate a moment to talk to each other and the captain kind of leaned over a young man I was Pan Am doing doing just fine captain tell me what's Pan Am doing out here LaGuardia Pan Am doesn't fly into LaGuardia they only fly into Kennedy well I picked up on that right away yeah we came into Kennedy I had a layover so I came over to visit some friends matter of fact I'm on my way back to Kennedy now so tell me young man what type of equipment are you on our airline people have a lot of jargon for things one of them is they never call a plane a plane or an aircraft they call it equipment and what type of equipment here I mean what type of plane do you fly back then the dc-8 at 707 of course I didn't know that and I thought type of equipment why are the equipment I'm on as this stool they must mean what type of equipment is on the planes I fly so I thought where they got the wings I got the engine it always had a sticker on the engine who manufactured the engine so I said yes General Electric all three pilots kind of just stopped eating and leaned over the captain said oh really what do you fly washing machine so I knew I said the wrong thing out the door I went everybody have an airline ID card a plastic laminated card much like a driver's license today yet without the ID card the uniform was worthless I went back to Manhattan pretty discouraged thinking where would I come up with a pan-american airline corporate ID I was sitting in the hotel room I noticed a big thick Manhattan yellow pages so I pulled him down on the bed flipped him open and looked under the word identification there were three or four pages of companies who made convention badges metal badges plastic badges police badges fire just hard to call around and finally one company said listen most of those airline IDs manufactured by Polaroid 3m company you to call one of them finally got the 3m company on the phone in Manhattan you know we manufacture pay names identification system along with a number of other carriers how come so today I'm a purchasing officer for a major US carrier I'm in New York just for the day we're getting ready to expand the routes are a lot of new employees go to a formal ID we're very impressed with this Pan Am format one that if I came by our office this afternoon briefly we could discuss quantity and priced by all means come on by so I went by dressed in a suit and the sales were Pope in the book yeah we do United Braniff national Pan Am panem we like this Pan Am format wouldn't if you have a sample I could bring back sure I'll be right back and he brought me back a 5×7 glossy piece of paper with a picture of an ID card blown up in the middle of it someone else's picture in the picture John Doe for a name and in bold red ink across the front this is a sample only I said no I'm afraid this one do you know I need to bring back an actual physical card and by the way what is all this equipment on the floor but now we don't just sell these cards we sell the system camera laminator oh we have to buy all this absolutely but hey what students you have to buy it all why don't we just demonstrate our works and use me fine ever see right here took my picture I was going down the elevators studying the card it had a blue border across the top about 1/2 inch in Pan Am's color blue but not a single thing on the card said Pan Am no logo no insignia no company name this is a plastic card like a credit card so you couldn't type on it couldn't write on it couldn't print on it discourage to put it in my pocket headed back to the hotel as I was walking back I noticed it I had passed a hobby shop so I turned around and walked back excuse me sir I see sell a lot of models here there's some models of commercial jetliners sure over there and I bought a model of a Pan Am 707 cargo jet took it back to my room open the box through all the parts out but there at the bottom of the box was a sheet of decals one on the model and when soaked in a glass of water the little Pan Am blue globe that would went on the tail of the plastic plane went perfect up at the top of the plastic card and the word Pan Am and their special styling a graphics that would have went on the fuselage went perfect across the top of the card and the clear decal on the laminated plastic made a beautiful identification card Pan Am says they estimate that between the ages of 16 and 18 I flew more than a million miles for free boarded more than 260 commercial aircraft in more than 26 countries around the world Pan Am says keep in mind the fact that Frank Abagnale did in fact pose as one of our pilots for a long period of time he never once stepped on board one of our aircraft that's true I never flew on Pan Am because I was afraid someone might say to me you know I'm based in San Francisco been out there 16 years I don't recall him meeting you before or someone might say you know your ID card is not exactly like my ID card so instead I flew on everyone else if I wanted to go somewhere I literally just walked out to the airport walked up on the board United flight 800 to Chicago then I went downstairs to the door marked United operations and walked in the operations clerk hey Pan Am what can we do for you it's 1:00 if the jump seats open on 800 needed it at Chicago it's open this evening like to get a pink slip past I'd give my ID drive me out of path I'd walk out handed to the flight attendant she'd opened the door to the cockpit and I'd step in and a captain a co-pilot a flight engineer and a seat behind the captain called the jumpsuit where pilots company time now because pilots love to talk shop once you picked up that jargon it was the same conversation over and over and over so I just step on board image and Bob Davis be running to Chicago on the taxi out always the same question so Bob how long you been with Pan Am been flying about seven years or position you fly right seat which is airline terminology for a co-pilot what type of equipment are we on had that one down perfect matter-of-fact whatever they flew I didn't fly so no problem with that and we'd arrive in Chicago I'd go by the Pan Am ticket counter but just enough to get the attention of the passenger service rep excuse me having laid over here and over a year we still at the apartment house Hilton downtown catch the crew bus low level door throughout I go down the Parma House Hilton walk in and on the corner of the registration down was a little sign said airline cruise that was a three-ring binder you've signed in referenced your flight number showed your ID they'd give me a key I'd stayed two or three days in pain and would be direct billed for my room and my meals I also could cashed a personal check at the front desk because I was unemployed the airline airline had a contract with the hotel and as a courtesy they'd cash your check but then I found out that every airline honors every other airline employees personal check actually a reciprocal agreement still practiced today in 2017 so at the San Francisco Airport a delta flight attendant can walk up to an American airline ticket counter show her ID and cash a personal check up to $100 and vice versa of course when I found that out I'd go out to JFK or LAX or me I'd go to everybody North East National KLM Air Gramm it would take me a good eight hours stopping at every counter in every building by the time I got all the way around the other end of the airport at least eight hours have gone by and what did you have an eight hours shift change new people so I'd go all the way back around the other as you know I went on to impersonate a doctor in a Georgia hospital for a while I took the bar exams in Louisiana passed the bar went to work for Attorney General PF grimian on the Civil Division of the state court where I spent about a year practicing law in both the job is the lawyer and the doctor no one ever doubted for a second I was not eligible or qualified to do so I on my own resigned and moved on of course like any criminal sooner or later you'd get caught and I was no exception to that rule I was actually arrested just once in my life when I was 21 years old by the French police in a small town in southern France calm on PA the French police were actually arresting me on an Interpol warrant issued by the Swedish police who were looking for me for forgery in Sweden but believe that I was living in France when the French authorities took me into custody on that warrant they realized I had forged checks all over France so they refused to honor the warrant and Sweden's request for my extradition they later convicted me of forgery and sent me to French prison I served my time in a place called de maison the array the house of arrest and a small-town southern friends called Pepin Yong Steven Speilberg toh Barbara Walters it was extremely important to me to go back to that cell to the exact cell he was in and reconstruct it according to the logbooks during his stay there he said to my amazement that was a blanket on the floor no mattress a hole in the floor to go to the bathroom no plumbing no electricity he said according to the logbooks I entered the prison at 198 pounds left the prison at a hundred and nine pounds when my sentence was over in France I was extradited to Sweden where I was later convicted of forgery in a Swedish court of law and sent to a Swedish Penitentiary in Malmo Sweden when my prison term was up in Sweden US federal authorities took custody a man returned me to the United States eventually a United States federal judge in Atlanta Georgia would sentence me to 12 years in federal prison I served four of the twelve years at a federal prison in Petersburg Virginia when I was 26 years old the government offered to take me out of prison on the condition I go to work with an agency of the federal government for the remainder of my sentence or until my parole had been satisfactorily completed I agreed and was released this year I'm celebrating 41 years at the FBI I have been at the bureau for more than four decades I work out of Washington DC I actually make my home in Charleston South Carolina so every Monday I fly up to Washington about an hour flight and I go home on Thursday evenings I live in Charleston with my one and only wife of 40-plus years and my three sons my youngest boy graduated from the University of Beijing in China he went on to get his master's degree there he reads writes and speaks Chinese fluently he works for a San Francisco gaming company called Glu Mobile he designs gaming games for the Chinese market all of his games are in Chinese and they're in their fourth generation as mobile games and devices my middle son graduated for University of Nevada and Las Vegas his degree was in business he and his wife graduated together and he and her own a business in South Carolina and they manage that business together my oldest son graduated for University of Kansas at kayuu he went on to Loyola School of Law in Chicago to get his law degree passed the bar in Illinois and went on to make his dad very very proud he's an FBI agent he's been in the bureau about 12 years he supervises a team that deals with American citizens kidnapped overseas so they're a response team that operates out of Quantico Virginia as many of you know I had very little to do with the film I would have preferred not to had a movie made about my life I actually raised my three boys in Tulsa Oklahoma in the same house for 25 years my neighbors had no idea who I was and I would have preferred it stayed that way but Steven Spielberg told Barbara Walters he felt compelled tell the world of story not because of what I did but because of what I'd done was my life after that he loved the redemption side of the story wanted the world to know the story so in the end my family and I were very pleased with the outcome of the film but we thought in a couple years that would all be forgotten and move on with our life I never dreamed that catch me if you can would go on to earn more than a billion dollars for DreamWorks and be shown over and over literally every week on HBO and TV and then become a Broadway musical and TV show so consequently every Monday when I come to work I have emails they come from all over the world someone who's seeing the movie for the first time watching the play at a community theater or a high school somewhere and they feel compelled to write and of course they come from people literally as young as 8 years old sending those emails to people as old as 80 most people assume I'll never read those emails or see those emails but they feel compelled to write and they want to make a statement some say you know you were brilliant you are an absolute genius I was neither I was just a child and a min brilliant had it been a genius I don't know that I would have found it necessary to break the law in order to just simply survive and while I know that people are fascinated by what I did some 50 years ago as a teenage boy I've always looked upon what I did is something that was immoral illegal unethical and a burden I live with literally every single day of my life and will until my death there are many who write and say well you know you were certainly gifted that it was I was one of those few children that got to grow up in the world with the daddy now the world is the world is full of fathers but there are very few men worthy of being called daddy by their child I had a daddy loved his children more than he loved life itself Steven Spielberg told Barbara Walters the Mehra research Frank's use now without having met Frank I couldn't help but put his father in the film so the likes of Christopher Walken my father was a man who had four children three boys and a daughter every night at bedtime he'd walk into your room he was six three he would drop down on one knee kiss you on the cheek pull the cover up and he put his lip up on your earlobe and he'd whisper deep into your I love you I love you very much he never ever missed a night as I grew older I sometimes fell asleep before he got home but I always woke up the next morning knew he had been back my bedside years later my older brother joined me in my room temporarily he was in the Marine Corps he was six for it played semi pro-football for Buffalo but my father would walk around to his bed hug him kisum whisper nazir he loved him when i was 16 years old I was just a child all 16 year olds are just children much as we'd like him to be adults they're just children it like all children they need their mother and they need their father all children need their mother and their father all children are entitled to their mother and their father and though it is not popular to say so divorce is a very devastating thing for a child to deal with and then have to deal with the rest of their natural life for me a complete stranger a judge told me I had to choose one parent over the other that was a choice of 16 year old boy could not make so I ran how could I tell you my life was glamorous I cried myself to sleep till I was 19 years old I spent every birthday Christmas Mother's Day Father's Day in a hotel room somewhere in the world where people didn't speak my language the only people that associated with me were people who believed me to be their peer 10 years older than I actually was I never got to go to his senior prom High School football games share a relationship with someone my own age I always knew I'd get caught only a fool we think otherwise the law sometimes sleeps but the law never dies I was caught I went to some very bad places my boys have grown up asking their mother why is it that Dad gets up in the middle of the night and goes down the TV room because you know he doesn't turn the TV on he just sits there all night that's because they're things you can't forget things you're not meant to forget well I was sitting in that pitch-black selim friends my father 57 was climbing the subway stairs of New York as he did every day he was in great physical shape he just happened to trip he reached his arm to break his fall he slipped hit his head on a railing laying it at the bottom of the step he was dead I didn't know he was dead I was thinking about him how much I couldn't wait to see him hold him hug him kiss him tell him how sorry I was but I never got the opportunity to do that I was very fortunate because I was raised in a great country where everyone gets the second chance I owe my country 800 times more than I can ever repay it over these past four decades that is why I'm at the FBI today 32 years after the federal court order expired requiring me to do so I have turned down three pardons from three sitting presidents of the United States because I do not believe nor will I ever believe that a piece of paper will excuse my actions that only in the end my actions will 40 plus years ago on an undercover assignment and used in Texas I met my wife when the assignment was over I broke protocol to tell her who I really was I didn't have a dime to my name but I eventually asked her to marry me against the wishes of her parents she did I could sit up here and tell you that I was born again I saw the light prison rehabilitated me but the truth is God gave me a wife she gave me three beautiful children she gave me a family and she changed my life she and she alone everything I have everything I've achieved Who I am today because of love of a woman and the respect through boys have for their father something I would never ever jeopardize there comes a time in all of our lifetime we grow older and eventually we're fortunate enough we have children and as every parent knows whether your child's three months old or 38 years old when you lay your head on a pillow at night you're just about to close your eyes the last thing you think about last thing you're worried about are your children so if you still have your mother you still have your father you give him a hug you give him a kiss you tell them you love them while you can and to those men in the audience both young and old I would remind you what it truly is to actually be a man it has absolutely nothing to do with money achievements skills accomplishments degrees professions positions a real man loves his wife a real man is faithful to his wife and a real man next to God in his country put his wife and his children as the most important thing in his life Steven Spielberg made a wonderful film but I've done nothing greater nothing more rewarding nothing more worthwhile nothing makes actually brought me more peace more joy more happiness more content in my life than simply being a good husband a good father and what I strive to be every day of my life a great daddy god bless you and thanks for coming this morning we we have a bunch of questions both from the audience as well as some people have sent in so we'll take some questions I'll be happy to answer do you have any advice for Googlers who are feeling impostor syndrome the insecure feeling that they're not nearly as good at their jobs at their job as their colleagues believe they are and how did you stay confident or did you when you knew you were you were in an impostor you know people always say to me you know you were brilliant you're genius no I wasn't adolescent and that was why I was successful I was so young that I had no fear of being caught I was so yard that I didn't think about consequences everything I did was not premeditated everything was done by opportunity or by chance so if in fact I was standing out in front of a bank in Manhattan with a $500 check there was never a plan I didn't say to myself I'm going in cashes check if they say this I'll do this if they do this I'll do that I just went in and did it and I felt that there was nothing I couldn't do I had tremendous confidence in myself but everything was for a reason so I saw that airline crew I never dreamed about getting on planes or staying in hotels around the world for free all I saw was a uniform and said to myself if I had that uniform on and I walked in a bank it would be a lot easier to cash a cheque than me walking in is just some young kid so the whole thing was to get a uniform and do that but then I quickly realized the power of that uniform how it turned from night to day no one ever said no when I walked in to cash a check even though there was no bank account there or anything else all they saw was a uniform they didn't see me and I realized very earlier on the power of that uniform and then I realized I had gone to the TWA ticket counter just like he showed in the movie I was going to purchase an airline ticket and the ticket agent said to me are you riding for free are you buying the ticket and I said riding for free yeah you armed the jump see and I learned about the jump seats and then I flew around the world for free everything I did I did by chance I've moved into an apartment complex in Atlanta I said it was a doctor because I didn't want to write down airline pilot they were looking for me with that airline pilot so I said it was a doctor I said pediatrician because was a singles complex and there were only single people living there and then I met a doctor who lived there and then he took me up to the hospital and I met people so I ended up at the hospital I dated a flight attendant whose father was the Attorney General in Louisiana I told her that I had gone to law school but I never practiced law instead I wanted to be a pilot and got furloughed from the airline so she introduced me to her dad and I went to work everything was all these opportunities but always the confidence that I could pull it off and that that became just from age but if you believe that you're good at what you do and you strive to be good at what you do you don't need to worry about what other people think you need to be able to understand that you have your own confidence that you can do whatever it is you're required to do and other people will see that confidence in you the minute you start doubting yourself other people will see the that you're doubting yourself and that becomes a weakness in your personality they always want to be confident and everything you do that you can do it you can get it done you'll find a way to get it get it done obviously technology has evolved quite a bit since you were going around and things like that would somebody be able to accomplish something similar today even with yeah you know I get asked that a lot actually it's sorry to say but 4,000 times easier today than when I did it technology breeds crime it always has and it always will and there will always be people willing to use technology in a self-serving way so you know I always use the example that when I used to forge checks I needed a Heidelberg printing press it took me about 12 months to learn that press that was a million dollar printing press it was 90 feet long 18 feet high it required three journeyman operators to operate it so I bill scaffoldings on either sides of the press so I could eliminate the other two positions and because I was a teenager I was able to run the length of that press but there were color separations there were negatives there were chemicals you had to work with there were plates you had to make there was typesetting involved today one just opens a laptop and decides to forge an counterfeit a check they first bring up a diagram of a check with a little security background in it and then they go and look on who is checked in and afford so if I'm gonna Forge for example into its check I go to their company's website capture their logo and put it up on the corner of the left part top of the check I put in their corporate address I might put some stuff in the background and step and repeat patterns or whatever it is I'm designing and in 15 minutes I have a four color beautiful check prettier than the real check they use up on my website now in the old days you de would have said to me you know this check you printed from Pan Am I have to admit pretty awesome it's amazing for color it looks terrific but let me ask you this how do you know where Pan Am banks I have no idea where they're bank so I'm just making up a bank's name Chase Manhattan Bank One Chase Plaza New York you know how do you know what the account number is I have no ideas I'm just making up a bunch of numbers how do you know who the authorized signer is I don't know I'm just signing somebody's Joe black whatever name on that check but we live in a way too much information world today so once I forge in to its check every forger calls their victim twice because every forger will tell you a victim will tell me everything I need to know so when he calls he would have simply said like to speak to someone in accounts receivables sure one moment counts receivables can I help you I was getting ready to pay an invoice you sent us but we prefer to wire you the funds just needed wiring instructions yes so we bank with Bank of America or account numbers 1 7 6 8 5 3 they tell you right on the phone you can call any company and just tell them you're gonna wire the money they're going to tell you where they bank on what street their account number but you need on the check so I captured the bank's logo I put it on the check up with the mickr line down on the bottom and I hang up and call back into a corporation gonna help you yeah I'd like to speak to someone in your corporate communications sure one moment corporate communications can help you yeah wonder if you be so kind as to mail me a copy of your annual report sure send you one out today on page three is a signature of the chairman of the board the CEO the CFO white glossy paper black ink camera-ready art scan it digitize it put it on the check the technologies made it much much easier when we talk about IDs making an airline ID today would be very simple with the technology that's available today so all of those things are a lot easier as I used to say that would be a little more difficult for me to get on an aircraft today posing as a pilot but if you ever go to the airport and watch the crews go through the airport they just simply hold up a card and they go through the airport that anyone could make that card with today's software and technology that's available to anybody so a technology certainly made a lot easier so that's why we are constantly making technology to counter the use of technology by criminals and to make it more difficult for them to convert that technology into a negative idea in your candid opinion did Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks do justice t-to urine Joseph cheese respective roles in the movie yeah you know I'm I'm not a big movie person so I don't I've watched very little television this is most of my life not just something I took up even as a kid I didn't watch a lot of television I don't watch a lot of television now and I certainly very rarely go to movies and so when it was announced that Leo head was the person picked to play the part I really knew nothing about him my sons weren't too happy that it was Leo but I didn't I didn't know anything about him so I went to the movies and saw street gangs of New York and i said to myself sitting there how would this person portray a person 16 years old he had a beard he was at the time he filmed that movie was about 27 28 years old I thought no one's gonna believe this guy's 16 but because I'd never saw the script I didn't know if maybe Spielberg was making the character a lot older and not a teenager now when the movie came out it was quite amazing that Leo starts out in the film at 14 then he's 16 and he's 18 and he's 21 he is an amazing character actor and he took the role and he did an amazing job of playing the role Tom Hanks's character was actually named Joe Shea SH EA he was an Irishman from Boston Joe Shea was my supervisor at the FBI after I came out of prison I answer directly to him he and I were friends for thirty years until his death I've written five books on crime the last book I wrote stealing your life I dedicated that book to him and our 30 year relationship but he was an Irishman from Boston in which Tom Hanks he didn't want his real name used so Tom Hanks used the name of an old football player and took that name call Hanratty but if you were watching the screen for me it was like watching him he looked like him he sounded like him he had his mannerisms they did an amazing job both of them and portraying the parts of real people that were still living at that time so first of all as a father your statement was just time each tearing so I can say anything about that I mean that's totally practical with the equifax hacks and the anthem hacks that everyone in this room has been probably affected by one of the other is there anything we can do as citizens to protect ourselves or is it a lost cause no I'll tell you what to do but let me explain this to you that is where I when I went to the FBI forty-one years ago I worked undercover for a long period of time then I went into the field and dealt with counterfeits and forgeries embezzlement financial crimes in the last 20 years I've dealt with only cyber related crimes so I spend most of my time with breaches I have worked every breach back to t.j.maxx 15 years ago and this is what I've learned first of all every single breach every breach occurs because somebody in that company did something they weren't supposed to do or somebody in that company failed to do something they were supposed to do hackers do not cause breaches people do and every breach comes down to that so in the case of Equifax they didn't update their infrastructure they didn't fix the patches that should have put in place they were very negligent and what they were doing so the hacker waited for the door to open so when you interview a hacker the hacker will say to you look I can't get into Chase Bank the truth is they spend about a half a billion dollars a year on technology every 12 months they spend a half a billion dollars of their profit on putting technology and software in their bank to keep me out however they employ 200,000 people worldwide all I have to do is wait for one of those people to do something they weren't supposed to do or fail to do what they were supposed to do and that'll open the door for me to get in when you steal credit card numbers like Home Depot target at t.j.maxx that's stealing credit cards and debit card information that has a very short short shelf life so you have to get rid of it very very quickly but if I steal your name your social security number and your date of birth you can't change your name you can't change your social security number you can't change your date of birth so those people warehouse that data for two to three years so we won't even see that surface for at least a couple of years before some of that will start to surface the data that was stolen whatever number they start with I think was 143 million then it became 146 million it was a million driver's licenses now it's ten point six million driver's licenses all breaches start with very low numbers before they let you know the actual true number so it's probably about two hundred and forty million pieces of information that was stolen but I remind people all the time that they're going to warehouse that data so buying one year credit monitoring service is absolutely worthless because nothing's going to happen in a year and if you really analyze Equifax they were very unethical in what they did they thought to themselves first of all they sold a bunch of stock knowing that it was going to come out that was worse but then they stat there and said how do we make a profit from this was our mistake but how we turn this around into a profit so they sat there and said what we'll do is we'll offer millions and millions of people one year credit monitoring service for free they'll sign up and in a year from now we'll simply say that data hasn't really surfaced yet you need to be enrolled automatically into our program which is $20.00 a month so they're going to make millions and millions of dollars with automatic enrollment into their their program if you've been a Bri if you have been a subject of that breach there's only two things you can do and two things only one you can freeze your credit each date varies about that so some states freezing your credit is free other states there's a fee associated with it typically ten dollars to freeze it eighteen dollars to unfreeze it ten dollars to freeze it again so for the last two years I've testified before Congress and you go to my website at Abagnale calm you'll see me testifying before Congress telling them that they need to put a federal law across the 50 states that allow anyone to freeze their credit at any time and unfreeze it and anytime there should be no reason that there should be a fee associated with it because then that becomes a deterrent to people actually freezing their credit so you can freeze your credit that's one thing you can do and then you unfreeze it if you need it if it's not too much of a hassle and then the only other thing is to monitor your credit so I've used a credit monitoring service since 1992 so for about 25 years I've been using a service I think they charge me like 12 dollars a month the reason I like it I I can monitor my own credit I don't need them all they've given me for that 12 dollars is the ability to go on my keyboard and a few strokes and bring up my credit reports instantly on my screen and up on my screen comes all three reports Equifax Experian TransUnion at the top is my score for the moment of that day what my credit score is at those three agencies then I can scroll down and look at my credit and I can say to myself you know I paid this car off like four months ago they still show that I owe money to this bank I'll correct that and I can go all the way down and see every inquiry made on my credit that's what we call hard and soft in choirs and that's your employer checking your credit the IRS checking your credit your insurance company checking your credit or a credit card you applied for and they're checking your credit so I really don't need them but for fee they're also monitoring my credit as well so they're checking my credit and they're letting me know in real time if someone attempts to use my social security number to get a job open a bank account or whatever the case may be so to me it's worth using that now one other tip I'll give you is I don't own a debit card I've never owned one I've never allowed my threes to possess one certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer so a long time ago I asked myself a simple question how would I remove 99.9 percent of my personal liability like that where they really don't to worry about all these things so I use the safest form of payment that exists on the face of the earth and that is a credit card credit card Visa MasterCard American Express Discover card not debit credit but credit card every day of my life I spend their money I don't spend my money my money sits in a money market account it earns interest actually nobody knows where it is because it's not exposed to anybody to find it it's just sitting there I go to the dry cleaner I give my card I pick up the groceries I give my card I put fuel in my boat on the weekend I use my card I pay the marina to keep my boat in the water all year long they put the rent on my credit card I travel all over the world while I wait to get reimbursed I use my credit card if I need euros I go to the ATM machine I use my credit card I'm not going to use my debit card to get euros overseas or pounds and Great Britain and every day I use my card and then if I pay the bill in full a part of the bill my credit score goes up so I'm building credit while I'm using that credit card and if tomorrow and I'll do everything to protect my information but if tomorrow someone gets my card number and charges 1 million dollars on my credit card by federal law my liability is zero I have no liability so yes I love to shop online I don't use a special card I just use my credit card if they don't deliver the merchandise if they deliver it and it's broken if the host site I went to was fictitious to begin with I have no zero or less zero liability when you use your debit card every time you reach for you're exposing the money in your account the only person's going to get robbed as you when you use your debit card you could use it for the next 50 years 20 times a day you will not raise your credit score by that much and of course when you use your debit card you are liable up to a certain amount and it takes a while in order to get that debit card fixed so when we do post investigations at breaches and we say to someone on your incident what happened well I was in target but I used a Visa card so I don't know nothing I got a they canceled my card the next day two days later FedEx sent me a new card and that was the last I heard about it what about you and I used a debit card there that took three thousand dollars out of my checking account it took me two months to get my money back why they said they were investigating I had to pay my rent had kids tuition everything I couldn't pay it because they had my money so I do it for that so I had three sons that went off to college and I said to them I'm not giving you a debit card I've actually applied for a credit card in your name so it's your card of course you're 18 you have no credit so I guaranteed the card so as a guarantee of the card three things take place one the bill comes to me and I'm responsible for the bill so if you spend a lot of time in the bar I'm going to know that too I set the limit on the card so whatever I want you to spend each month is while you're at school I'll set that limit third every month that I pay the bill goes on your credit so by the time you get out of college you should be looking at a credit score of about eight hundred you want to buy a car buy a house buy a condo you're not going to need me to do that all three of my sons came out of college with grades scores of the round 800 one of the best things you can do for your kids is to teach them to learn to use credit early on and build credit in their name credit is a very important thing thirty years ago it only meant whether you got the car you got the house today everything is based on your credit the company hires you they're going to check your credit if you buy auto insurance is gonna check your credit you buy life insurance is gonna check your credit everything is based on your credit so you want to make sure that you maintain a good credit and it's one of the best things you can do with your kids question I wanted to ask you more about the FBI specifically and kind of hiring and how you got in there is such an interesting story you know when I was younger I was really interested in you know working for the FBI worked in fraud and security if my boss is watching I'm very happy where I am right now but I couldn't believe how difficult it was to try and get into public service I thought you know you know I was willing to take a pay cut I was willing to move anywhere I was willing to do anything and it was difficult I mean I was in touch with people at the FBI and they were super nice and very helpful but I just couldn't believe that you know the background checks and there's no available jobs and you have to keep emailing me and oh you don't have a lot of griot that's not gonna matter and you know again I ended up in a great spot so I'm happy but when people ask me about public service and working for these organizations I really don't the FBI is extremely tough we have about 13,000 agents and about 25,000 support people who support the agent analysts and things of that nature currently we take one in every 10,000 applicants to be an agent so it is extremely difficult to get in the FBI so just to share the story with you my oldest boy when he was about 14 I used to take my kids to the FBI Academy which is on a marine military base in Quantico Virginia because I like to shoot guns on the range and I would take them up there when I was teaching class they would be out there with the instructor shooting on the range and I remember distinctly coming back off the base which takes you about 20 minutes to get from the Academy off to the base and when we were riding through the base he said to me no dad this is what I want to do I want to become an FBI agent I saw that's great son but you know they keep that in mind and so he graduated from high school he said to me I really want to become a FBI agent I said that's great you know you got to go to college so he went to school at University of Kansas got his undergraduate he always thought he'd change his mind my wife always had a Christmas party for all the agents until so we had about 200 FBI agents in the state and every Christmas they would be at our home with their family and he would go talk to all of them and Special Agent in Charge who's in charge of the entire state he would say to him yeah my son tried to get in but they turned him down he's and he explained to him that senators sons have been turned down former president's sons have been turned down has nothing to do with anything other than you and I kept emphasizing that to him but I kept thinking he changed his mind so when he graduated from undergraduate school I said Sonia I would recommend you go to law school I have no desire to be a lawyer I said I understand but if you really want to pursue the FBI and that would put you up a little higher and the chances of getting in you went to Loyola School of Law I graduated from law school the bureau requires you pass the bar so he took the bar in Illinois pass the bar and then he went through the year-long process of the process that takes to apply to the bureau and I got very worried because I'd say to my wife that you know I'm a little concerned because first of all I don't know if someone in management would like the fact that my son is an FBI agent or maybe someone in management would look at it and say his dad has done so much for him for them we need to look at his son it had absolutely nothing to do with that was all about him and I always tell him every day he's living his life's dream so he's he got it but it is very very tough so when the bureau came to me and they just a few years ago celebrated their 100th anniversary they did a big coffee table book and they talked about me in there as being the only person they ever did that with the whole thing to the bureau back then the director was Clarence Kelly who was the director of the bureau at that time he wanted the ability because he could say to me okay you are a lieutenant in the Army you have been in the Army this many years your expertise is this missile I need you to learn all of this in two weeks and I'm sending you to this base and I want you to find out what's going on in this particular area he knew that no matter what assignment he gave me under cover I could go do it whether it was a scientist at a lab in New Mexico whether it was a doctor in a hospital he knew that I could get away with it make it believe people believe that I was that person without any doubt and that's how they used me I think that was their initial thing and then of course when my time was up and again keep in mind that when I got that offer to me it was just an opportunity I looked at it well opportunity to get out of jail I I'm not going to sit here and tell you I was a change person that I was a different person and when I went into prison I just saw that as an opportunity to get out of prison so I was going to do it but then I you get involved with the men and women the FBI who obviously it's probably the most ethical people who ever meet in your life they have tremendous character love of country love of family that kind of wears off on you and I started to realize that you know I've met my wife and I was becoming a husband I'd take care of my wife had take care of children fatherhood all those things is what really changed my life wasn't that I was rehabilitated or those things changed my life so if it started out more as an opportunity so when my time was over and the court said his court order this ceases to be he's free to do whatever he wants to do I made the choice to stay there only because I thought that I could bring a lot to the bureau so the bureau was very smart they realized very early on that I wouldn't be accepted very well and so there was a great scene in the movie where Steven Spielberg obviously knew that I was very very difficult for the agents you keep in mind now this is back when there were no women agents no blacks no Hispanics everybody was a white agent and they either graduated from Harvard or they graduated from Yale and they all came from very good families and it was a totally different environment 40 years ago so they all have really tunnel vision once a criminal always a criminal so they were not very very happy with the fact that I came there so he showed that scene of me walking in the office and that the way people looked at me that took years for me to turn that around took years for me to build their credibility and of course in the first part of my career was out in the field so as undercover so they really were dealing with me so when I finished working on the cover that the director then simply said you know what he needs to go to the Academy and teach class so that every agent who comes to the Academy they will he will be their instructor in one of their courses and they will all know him so I've taught at the academy now for well over 35 years I taught my son when he went through the Academy three generations of agents that helped a great deal because they learned who I was early on knew who I was and that tamed a lot of that but took a lot of lot of a lot of work to turn that around and build that credibility I'm curious to know whether or not you continued to fly even after you were released from jail and working at the Bureau as the movie suggests or if that was a bit of Hollywood in Belgium now you know when people ask me and I saw the movie in a movie theater I've only seen the movie twice I've seen that trailer a thousand times but I've only seen the movie twice so when the media asked me what I thought about the movie and what was right and what was wrong I said you know well first of all I have two brothers and a sister he portrayed portrayed me as an only child in real life my mother never remarried as a scene in the movie where she's remarried as a little girl that didn't really happen in the real life I never saw my father after I ran away in the movie they keep having him come back to Christopher Walken and the film was nominated for the Academy Award for that role as my father that didn't really happen I escaped off the aircraft but I escaped off the aircraft through the kitchen galley where they bring the food and stuff onto the plane and there they had me escape through the toilet my wife kind of looked at me said you didn't go through the toilet yes I know honey go through the toilet so I thought he stayed very close to the story but pretty much all of that where he was he was very concerned about being accurate first of all because it was a it was the first time he made a movie about a real person living second the Bureau had an information officer on the set for all the SH all the shooting of the entire film to make sure that what he said about the FBI and what the comments they made and all that was accurate the agent there was an agent from our information officer on the on the set and then of course is he later said I really got most of my information from those were three retired agents because they said they their notes were so particular and so accurate he said that when I filmed the scene in the hotel room I had scripted it and so we're sitting there and I said read me your notes he said I entered the room with my gun pulled I heard someone in the bathroom I ordered them to come out of the bathroom and this is what happened he basically loved his notes better than his script so he used his notes for the southern film so I thought he did a good job of staying very very accurate the movie I just make a final comment you having to deal with cyber now I'd like to write about crimes the future so I always used to write to my class about what will we investigate five years from now what will an agent be doing five years from now and unfortunately there's good news and there's bad news first of all the good news we will be doing away with passwords in the next 24 months passwords will leave the world there will be no more passwords there is a new technology called true Sona that's T ru s ona stands for true persona it is a company in Scottsdale Arizona that created a technology for the CIA which we have used now for the last few years that technology and I was an advisor on that technology for the CIA so I'm an advisor and bringing it to the commercial world but it was the ability for an agent to send data back from the field such as Afghanistan on their iPhone and that Langley would know 100% that is the agent on the other end to 100% identify the person on the other end of the device that's a level for security so that they basically said what if we brought this to level 2 security and we did away with passwords so immediately when they announced that Microsoft gave them 10 million dollars and said I'm in develop it so Microsoft is going to use it on all their gaming all their access to their computers etc we now have the ability to identify who the person is on the other end of that device and when you go to their website a true Sona they actually show you how it's done so they demo videos there there are three or four minutes long let's show you how it's done and that's great passports are stack of passwords or stagnant they should have been gone a long time ago it's why we have most of the problems that we have today so it is very important that we get rid of passwords in just in case you didn't know if we take a bank like a Bank of America they spend about six million dollars a month in their call center resetting passwords cost them six million dollars a month so that would save that bank a hundred million dollars a year to eliminate the use of passwords so that's the good part of it and I think that'll eventually do away with social security numbers you'll still have a number of nine to you for the government purpose but when I go buy a car I go to the doctor I don't have to give them a number because they already know who I am through my device so I won't have to provide a social security number so I think that's a good part but I do believe that cyber it up until this point in time has been used for financial crimes or gathering data and information which is of value what's going to happen is we're going to see cyber very quickly now turn very black so we have the ability as you know to basically shut someone's pacemaker off but we have to be within 35 feet of them we test these device at Quantico all the time so as long as I walk up within 35 feet of you I take control of any bodily device you have on you so if I want to assassinate you I want to speed it up take it down I can do that but I believe that in five years you'll be able to do that from five thousand miles away we have the ability now that we test that we can chase a car down the interstate we got to get up with them thirty five feet of the vehicle we take over the vehicle we shut the motor off we lock the person in the car we lock the power window so they can't open them we can turn on their airbag again five years from now you'd be able to do that five thousand miles away so yes our electrical grid uses a terrorist tool the ability to shut down an entire system shut down an entire banking system those are all the things that unfortunately we'll be dealing with in the next four or five years as cyber starts to make that turn to the very black side of cyber not just about stealing money information and data and so that's why we're gonna have to work extra hard to make sure that we go back to protect our electrical grid we I always remind people we have the technology to prevent most of these problems but if you don't use it and it's worthless and we tend to develop a lot of things and I just wanna make this emphasis to you we develop a lot of things without following them through so one thing I've done in the government over the last several years if the government is going to buy a technology they send me to the technology company and say try to defeat that I just simply go there and see their technology as one CEO says he plays chess with you you tell him you did this this and this and then he tells you we have a weakness right here because I would come in and do this so they build a wall up and then he says no I would still get in here until he says he can't do it any longer then we know we have a good technology but very rarely is and I did that with true sona when we did it for the purpose of the CIA but today you and it tells you on the website that I advised in that project and why how it became down to commercial use but today what we have is we develop things so we say to you here's a device you put in your kitchen and then you can talk to it to tell you ask what the weather is what's on TV denied all of that that I could easily reverse that and listen to everything you say in your house there are so many weaknesses in your home your security cameras or access points your remote control on your TV your Samsung television your refrigerator that tells you how much milk is in it my thing is I really don't need my refrigerator to talk to my toaster they've gotten along for a long time without ever having a conversation but what happens is we develop something we get real excited about we I get this to the marketplace and sure enough we never look at the negative side all I try to say to a technology company yeah this is great now can you take a little time to just say how would someone use this technology and a negative self-serving way so that we build the block to that before we ever give it to the public to use it we'd save a lot of problems be an absolute pleasure spend the morning with you thank you very much for coming [Applause] you


  • Roger Diotte says:

    Only the lucky ones…1 in 10 million get the job! It's great to see that 1.

  • trotanium13 says:

    He kept saying i remembered. i can't even remember what i had for breakfast.

  • Buzz Zu says:

    it's been 2 years and there are still passwords!

  • Wisconsin and Minnesota Gems says:

    I am not impressed by a criminal mind no matter how clever or well-spoken. Con men are good at con games simply because they CAN impress honest people. I think that there are thousands of decent, smart people who will NEVER be able to get a job at the FBI because they would rather hire known criminals, like hackers and this joker, Abagnale. Okay, so maybe 'everyone deserves a second chance', but that means forgiving, not allowing them to work for the FBI! I am ashamed to have wasted even a few minutes watching the glorification of a total scumbag here in this video.

  • pault1964 says:

    Answer the question did you fly again

  • Michael Venton says:

    Hes way to smart for me

  • TheGodEmperorofMankind says:

    At the end he should have said okay now catch me if you can and run out of the room lol

  • Buribum PawPaw says:

    best 1hr of my history youtube, no skip scenes ever

  • Anonymous says:

    I have to laugh at the title of your video. I’ve been caught by the ultimate stalker. I’m the luckiest man in the world because of it.

  • Knights2theEnd says:

    What if he is still faking it?

  • Lance Baker says:

    At 7:10, three more kids walk in front of him. GODDAMN IT, STOPS THIS ANNOYANCE!!!!

  • Lance Baker says:

    Why does that skinny woman in the front row keep getting up and sitting down? VERY ANNOYING!!!!

  • Lance Baker says:

    Why many folks walking behind and getting up from their seats? This is a very unsettles bunch.

  • Lance Baker says:

    At 0:24 "Most of the time speaking when I walk up to the podium…" NOT!!! You step ONTO the podium and walk up to the lecturn. As in podiatrist, a podium is for the feet. One stands upon it. One lectures at the lecturn.

  • Maria S' says:

    They applaud him….🤔

  • Rajivrocks Ltd. says:

    Oh damn, white collar was based on him O.O

  • glitchTF says:

    What a humble man and a great speech.

  • BrotherBones X says:

    Mistakes makes us into who we are today. Sometimes it takes us that one time to turn our lives around. The smart ones realize it. The foolish do not.

  • MWC management says:

    wasn't aware you need a speech impediment to work at google ?

  • 5feetgoaround fullflapsC150 says:

    Fools praising Frauds.. Suckerrsss!!

  • Use your brain says:

    Starting at 22:00.
    Damn, you are going to make me cry!!!!

  • Debbie Lydy says:

    Every MAN needs to watch this.

  • S. Andre Yoder Harris says:

    Cool I shot a video for bank security with him about 10 years ago.

  • caroline ayre says:

    what an amazing man, dunno if its just coz im tired lol but he had me in tears talking about his wife n kids, and could listen to his voice all day

  • Seiei Leisure says:

    Wow, before I clicked on the video, I saw this was over an hour long. Hesitant, I clicked play and I can tell you, I paid attention all throughout. It is actually amazing. He gave a nice overview of his journeys that the movie captured, but when he talks about life beyond the film, the lessons he learned, the struggles of the years in the film, of his father's love, the guilt he feels, and the meaning of family, this was amazing and so valuable.

  • Hippopotamus Prime says:

    This guy's IQ is HIGH!

  • Patrick Uchmanowicz says:

    Mind blown…He said UHM once around 19:50..

  • Dying Star says:


  • Samuelson baker says:


  • Gary Johnson says:

    No more pass words, sweet, The movie “catch me if you can” reminded me of Another movie, “the great imposter “ which took place during WWIi, both good movies, thank you for a most informative and entertaining life’s story, i especially like how important your wife is and how you give her credit for the man you are today. Peace

  • CFITOMAHAWK2 says:– Idiots not only love crooks, they also make them president. Closet fags and cowards like liking the suits of crooks..

  • MARLON LIM says:

    It's 2019, that girl in front is annoying.. she keeps on standing and walking..

  • Michael Snell says:

    This man is a genius for ways to foil fraud when others are constantly working to out think every precaution.

  • Jeremy Reger says:

    57:00 uhh… we've still got passwords..

  • Jade Diamond says:

    The last 5 minutes of this video is very scary for the government to have that much power.

  • Mike Merrill says:

    The Verbal IQ on this guy is unreal lmao CTRL+F Verbal IQ

  • Your Name says:

    And all of You believed every word this con-man said, lol. Besides Mr. Abagnales very entertaining lecture – it seems that FBI and CIA et cetera is all about securing mentioned future 'black cyber' technologies for The Powers That Never Should've Been…

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