After years of exciting and lucrative con jobs, Frank was finally caught and jailed.
How long could Frank possibly keep up these wild adventures, conning his way into millions of dollars and living the high life? At the ripe age of 20, he decided to retire in Montpellier, France.
Yet Frank’s plans didn’t go as he expected.
Soon after settling himself in the southern French city, the French police caught up with him.
It turned out that law enforcement all over the world had been on Frank’s trail for years. While he wasn’t aware of the extent to which he was being tracked, Frank nonetheless kept on the move, changing his name and location often as a way to protect himself.
When the French police finally found him, he was sent to prison in Perpignan for one year.
While a single year behind bars might sound like a small price to pay for years of illegal activity, the prison in Perpignan was almost medieval. Frank sat in solitary confinement, his cell no more than five feet in each direction. No light, no bed – his toilet just a bucket.
Frank lived on bread and water. The cell floor soon became covered in feces as his jailers would only empty out the bucket every few weeks. His health began to deteriorate, his arms and legs developed sores and scabs. He was also severely malnourished.
In time, Frank was extradited to Sweden on separate charges. There, however, the police treated him more humanely and after doing time in Sweden, he was eventually extradited to the United States to face charges at home.
In the years following, Frank had his ups and downs, his straight life a mere shadow of the high life he’d formerly led. Once he’d served his sentence in the United States, his criminal record made finding and holding down a job a struggle.
Although he contemplated returning to the con game, Frank instead decided to approach a bank and offered to show employees how to detect false checks – a skill he had mastered in his teens.
Gradually, Frank became known as a white-collar crime specialist. His skills and first-hand knowledge were soon in demand by banks, airlines and other high-risk businesses.
Today, Frank Abagnale teaches at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a curious “end” to a career of deceit; training future agents how to detect and apprehend con artists like himself.