The Art of the Steal: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Fraud, America's #1 Crime

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The world--famous former con artist and bestselling author of Catch Me if You Can now reveals the mind--boggling tricks of the scam trade--with advice that has made him one of America's most sought--after fraud--prevention experts.

"I had as much knowledge as any man alive concerning the mechanics of forgery, check swindling, counterfeiting, and other similar crimes. Ever since I'd been released from prison, I'd often felt that if I directed this knowledge into the right channels, I could help people a great deal. Every time I went to the store and wrote a check, I would see two or three mistakes made on the part of the clerk or cashier, mistakes that a flimflam artist would take advantage of. . . . In a certain sense, I'm still a con artist. I'm just putting down a positive con these days, as opposed to the negative con I used in the past. I've merely redirected the talents I've always possessed. I've applied the same relentless attention to working on stopping fraud that I once applied to perpetuating fraud."

In Catch Me if You Can, Frank W. Abagnale recounted his youthful career as a master imposter and forger. In The Art of the Steal, Abagnale tells the remarkable story of how he parlayed his knowledge of cons and scams into a successful career as a consultant on preventing financial foul play--while showing you how to identify and outsmart perpetrators of fraud.

Technology may have made it easier to track down criminals, but cyberspace has spawned a skyrocketing number of ways to commit crime--much of it untraceable. Businesses are estimated to lose an unprecedented $400 billion a year from fraud of one sort or another. If we were able to do away with fraud for just two years, we'd erase the national debt and pay Social Security for the next one hundred years. However, Abagnale has discovered that punishment for committing fraud, much less recovery of stolen funds, seldom happens: Once you're a victim, you won't get your money back. Prevention is the best form of protection.

Drawn from his twenty-five years of experience as an ingenious con artist (whose check scams alone mounted to more than $2 million in stolen funds), Abagnale's The Art of the Steal provides eye-opening stories of true scams, with tips on how they can be prevented. Abagnale takes you deep inside the world and mind of the con artist, showing you just how he pulled off his scams and what you can do to avoid becoming the next victim. You'll hear the stories of notorious swindles, like the mustard squirter trick and the "rock in the box" ploy, and meet the criminals like the famous Vickers Gang who perpetrated them. You'll find out why crooks wash checks and iron credit cards and why a thief brings glue with him to the ATM. And finally, you'll learn how to recognize a bogus check or a counterfeit bill, and why you shouldn't write your grocery list on a deposit slip.
A revealing look inside the predatory criminal mind from a former master of the con, The Art of the Steal is the ultimate defense against even the craftiest crook.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Frank W. Abagnale
The charismatic forger immortalized in the film Catch Me If You Can exposes the astonishing tactics of today’s identity theft criminals and offers powerful strategies to thwart them based on his second career as an acclaimed fraud-fighting consultant.
Consider these sobering facts:

        *Six out of ten American companies and government agencies have already been hacked.

        *An estimated 80 percent of birth certificate requests are fulfilled through the mail for people using only a name and a return address. So I could take your name and use my address, and get your birth certificate. From there I’m off to the races.

        *Americans write 39 billion checks a year, and half of these folks never reconcile their bank statements.

        *A Social Security number costs $49 on the black market. A driver’s license goes for $90. A birth certificate will set you back $79.


When Frank Abagnale trains law enforcement officers around the country about identity theft, he asks officers for their names and addresses and nothing more. In a matter of hours he can obtain everything he would need to steal their lives: Social Security numbers, dates of birth, current salaries, checking account numbers, the names of everyone in their families, and more. This illustrates how easy it is for anyone from anywhere in the world to assume our identities and in a matter of hours devastate our lives in ways that can take years to recover from. Considering that a fresh victim is hit every four seconds, Stealing Your Life is the reference everyone needs by an unsurpassed authority on the latest identity theft schemes.

Abagnale offers dozens of concrete steps to transform anyone from an easy mark into a hard case that criminals are likely to bypass:

• Don’t allow your kids to use the computer on which you do online banking and store financial records (children are apt to download games and attachments that host damaging viruses or attract spyware).

• Beware of offers that appeal to greed or fear in exchange for personal data.

• Monitor your credit report regularly and know if anyone’s been “knocking on your door.”

• Read privacy statements carefully and choose to opt out of sharing information whenever possible.


Brimming with anecdotes of creative criminality that are as entertaining as they are enlightening, Stealing Your Life is the practical way to shield yourself from one of today’s most nefarious and common crimes.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Crown Business
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Published on
Jan 29, 2002
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780767910910
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Personal Finance / General
Computers / Security / General
True Crime / White Collar Crime
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Frank W. Abagnale
The charismatic forger immortalized in the film Catch Me If You Can exposes the astonishing tactics of today’s identity theft criminals and offers powerful strategies to thwart them based on his second career as an acclaimed fraud-fighting consultant.
Consider these sobering facts:

        *Six out of ten American companies and government agencies have already been hacked.

        *An estimated 80 percent of birth certificate requests are fulfilled through the mail for people using only a name and a return address. So I could take your name and use my address, and get your birth certificate. From there I’m off to the races.

        *Americans write 39 billion checks a year, and half of these folks never reconcile their bank statements.

        *A Social Security number costs $49 on the black market. A driver’s license goes for $90. A birth certificate will set you back $79.


When Frank Abagnale trains law enforcement officers around the country about identity theft, he asks officers for their names and addresses and nothing more. In a matter of hours he can obtain everything he would need to steal their lives: Social Security numbers, dates of birth, current salaries, checking account numbers, the names of everyone in their families, and more. This illustrates how easy it is for anyone from anywhere in the world to assume our identities and in a matter of hours devastate our lives in ways that can take years to recover from. Considering that a fresh victim is hit every four seconds, Stealing Your Life is the reference everyone needs by an unsurpassed authority on the latest identity theft schemes.

Abagnale offers dozens of concrete steps to transform anyone from an easy mark into a hard case that criminals are likely to bypass:

• Don’t allow your kids to use the computer on which you do online banking and store financial records (children are apt to download games and attachments that host damaging viruses or attract spyware).

• Beware of offers that appeal to greed or fear in exchange for personal data.

• Monitor your credit report regularly and know if anyone’s been “knocking on your door.”

• Read privacy statements carefully and choose to opt out of sharing information whenever possible.


Brimming with anecdotes of creative criminality that are as entertaining as they are enlightening, Stealing Your Life is the practical way to shield yourself from one of today’s most nefarious and common crimes.
Neil Swidey
The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless, miles-long tunnel, hundreds of feet below the ocean, to do a nearly impossible job—with deadly results
 
A quarter-century ago, Boston had the dirtiest harbor in America. The city had been dumping sewage into it for generations, coating the seafloor with a layer of “black mayonnaise.” Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as “beach whistles.”
 
In the 1990s, work began on a state-of-the-art treatment plant and a 10-mile-long tunnel—its endpoint stretching farther from civilization than the earth’s deepest ocean trench—to carry waste out of the harbor. With this impressive feat of engineering, Boston was poised to show the country how to rebound from environmental ruin. But when bad decisions and clashing corporations endangered the project, a team of commercial divers was sent on a perilous mission to rescue the stymied cleanup effort. Five divers went in; not all of them came out alive.
 
Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents collected over five years of reporting, award-winning writer Neil Swidey takes us deep into the lives of the divers, engineers, politicians, lawyers, and investigators involved in the tragedy and its aftermath, creating a taut, action-packed narrative. The climax comes just after the hard-partying DJ Gillis and his friend Billy Juse trade assignments as they head into the tunnel, sentencing one of them to death.
 
An intimate portrait of the wreckage left in the wake of lives lost, the book—which Dennis Lehane calls "extraordinary" and compares with The Perfect Storm—is also a morality tale. What is the true cost of these large-scale construction projects, as designers and builders, emboldened by new technology and pressured to address a growing population’s rapacious needs, push the limits of the possible? This is a story about human risk—how it is calculated, discounted, and transferred—and the institutional failures that can lead to catastrophe.
 
Suspenseful yet humane, Trapped Under the Sea reminds us that behind every bridge, tower, and tunnel—behind the infrastructure that makes modern life possible—lies unsung bravery and extraordinary sacrifice.  


From the Hardcover edition.
Kevin Poulsen
Former hacker Kevin Poulsen has, over the past decade, built a reputation as one of the top investigative reporters on the cybercrime beat. In Kingpin, he pours his unmatched access and expertise into book form for the first time, delivering a gripping cat-and-mouse narrative—and an unprecedented view into the twenty-first century’s signature form of organized crime.
 
The word spread through the hacking underground like some unstoppable new virus: Someone—some brilliant, audacious crook—had just staged a hostile takeover of an online criminal network that siphoned billions of dollars from the US economy.
 
The FBI rushed to launch an ambitious undercover operation aimed at tracking down this new kingpin; other agencies around the world deployed dozens of moles and double agents. Together, the cybercops lured numerous unsuspecting hackers into their clutches. . . . Yet at every turn, their main quarry displayed an uncanny ability to sniff out their snitches and see through their plots.
 
The culprit they sought was the most unlikely of criminals: a brilliant programmer with a hippie ethic and a supervillain’s double identity. As prominent “white-hat” hacker Max “Vision” Butler, he was a celebrity throughout the programming world, even serving as a consultant to the FBI. But as the black-hat “Iceman,” he found in the world of data theft an irresistible opportunity to test his outsized abilities. He infiltrated thousands of computers around the country, sucking down millions of credit card numbers at will. He effortlessly hacked his fellow hackers, stealing their ill-gotten gains from under their noses. Together with a smooth-talking con artist, he ran a massive real-world crime ring.
 
And for years, he did it all with seeming impunity, even as countless rivals ran afoul of police.
 
Yet as he watched the fraudsters around him squabble, their ranks riddled with infiltrators, their methods inefficient, he began to see in their dysfunction the ultimate challenge: He would stage his coup and fix what was broken, run things as they should be run—even if it meant painting a bull’s-eye on his forehead.
 
Through the story of this criminal’s remarkable rise, and of law enforcement’s quest to track him down, Kingpin lays bare the workings of a silent crime wave still affecting millions of Americans. In these pages, we are ushered into vast online-fraud supermarkets stocked with credit card numbers, counterfeit checks, hacked bank accounts, dead drops, and fake passports. We learn the workings of the numerous hacks—browser exploits, phishing attacks, Trojan horses, and much more—these fraudsters use to ply their trade, and trace the complex routes by which they turn stolen data into millions of dollars. And thanks to Poulsen’s remarkable access to both cops and criminals, we step inside the quiet, desperate arms race that law enforcement continues to fight with these scammers today. 
 
Ultimately, Kingpin is a journey into an underworld of startling scope and power, one in which ordinary American teenagers work hand in hand with murderous Russian mobsters and where a simple Wi-Fi connection can unleash a torrent of gold worth millions.


From the Hardcover edition.
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