Frank Abagnale, whose successful career as a scammer was depicted in a movie Catch Me If You Can has some solid advice for all of us who like to share information about our lives on social media. The first point Abagnale makes is that he doesn’t post anything on social media. Why? Because personal information we share on social media makes fraud schemes 4000 times easier today than 50 years ago when he was at the height of his con artist career.
When Abagnale was only 21 he had already conducted so many successful scams that escaping the FBI was impossible. He was caught, and sent to prison, but after five years he was asked if he would like to work again. He would get out of jail, but had to work for the government, helping officials to solve similar crimes he had conducted. He took the opportunity, and is still consulting, giving speeches and writing to help prevent fraud.
His primary method for fraud was identity theft. He stole identities of lawyers, airline pilots and other high value individuals, and pretended to be one. He could do whatever he wanted because he didn’t have to worry about the consequences. The real person paid the bills.
Crimes like identity theft and SIM card hijacking maybe serious problems in the US, but they are not necessarily common crimes, for instance, in Europe.
Anyhow, every social media user who is sharing plenty of personal information has a risk of becoming a target of a scam, blackmail scheme or simply a bullying campaign if someone with bad intentions knows how to use that information.
Critical data that shouldn’t be shared on Facebook (or online in general) by Frank Abagnale:
- Never reveal your birth date.
- Never share your birth place.
- Never post a photo of your face that could be used for a passport or id card.
He is worried about facial recognition technology that allows anyone to find the identity of a person with one photograph that shows the face.
CNBC talked with Abangale and shared a brief video about the chat.
Via Privacy Blog.