That's a Bad Sign

Con Artist Ep! Frank Abagnale Jr. and Sante Kimes

January 14, 2021 Emily Winchurch & Liz Mahoney Season 1 Episode 21
That's a Bad Sign
Con Artist Ep! Frank Abagnale Jr. and Sante Kimes
Chapters
1:50
Murder start
That's a Bad Sign
Con Artist Ep! Frank Abagnale Jr. and Sante Kimes
Jan 14, 2021 Season 1 Episode 21
Emily Winchurch & Liz Mahoney

Have you ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can?  If so,  you know a bit more about Frank Abagnale Jr. than you think you do. He is arguably the most famous con man, imposter and escape artist there is. Next up, things take a dark turn as we cover the cons of Sante Kimes and her son Kenny Kimes. Dubbed “Mommy and Clyde," they were involved in a string of crimes and murders across the U.S. until they were finally captured in the late 1990s.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale
https://www.biography.com/personality/frank-abagnale
https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/blog/banking/2012/12/crime-doesnt-pay-warns-catch-me-if.html?page=all
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2000/03/sante-kimes-mother-murderer-criminal-mastermind
https://www.oxygen.com/snapped/crime-news/sante-kimes-kenneth-kimes-guilty-murdering-irene-silverman 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/badsign)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can?  If so,  you know a bit more about Frank Abagnale Jr. than you think you do. He is arguably the most famous con man, imposter and escape artist there is. Next up, things take a dark turn as we cover the cons of Sante Kimes and her son Kenny Kimes. Dubbed “Mommy and Clyde," they were involved in a string of crimes and murders across the U.S. until they were finally captured in the late 1990s.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale
https://www.biography.com/personality/frank-abagnale
https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/blog/banking/2012/12/crime-doesnt-pay-warns-catch-me-if.html?page=all
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2000/03/sante-kimes-mother-murderer-criminal-mastermind
https://www.oxygen.com/snapped/crime-news/sante-kimes-kenneth-kimes-guilty-murdering-irene-silverman 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/badsign)

Liz: [00:00:00] Hey, Liz. Hi, it's been a minute. 
Emily: [00:00:03] We're back with episode 20. One of that's a bad sign. 
Liz: [00:00:08] Just so you guys know we recorded the last few in like a week span. So Emily and I actually have not seen each other in a bit. I know, I feel 
Emily: [00:00:14] like I might be bad at this because I haven't done it in such a long time.
Liz: [00:00:19] I'll let you know if you're being bad. Thank you for being bad. That sounds creepy about that. 
Emily: [00:00:24] Uh, so recommendation, coroner, 
Liz: [00:00:26] you kick it off. My recommendation is for everyone to go watch the movie, catch me if you can. That's a great movie, excellent movie who doesn't love young Leo, but also it ties into my story today.
Emily: [00:00:39] Well, I was going to say he's a con artist and it kind of ties into mine because mine's about to con artists. 
Liz: [00:00:45] Yours is about a con artist. I didn't even know that. And mine's about a con artist. This is the con artist episode. Oops. 
Emily: [00:00:53] Uh, I want to do recommendation, but you actually already did it. I'm just seconding your recommendation.
Okay. Or what's the word? Um, I'm giving it my stamp of approval as well. All right. Murder on middle beach. Uh, yes. So good. You told me to watch it. I did. And I want to stress if you guys didn't listen to Liz, go watch it now is it's amazing and 
Liz: [00:01:13] a lot going on with that family. 
Emily: [00:01:15] I don't mean to ruin it for anybody, but I'm just going to say it.
I, a hundred percent think that the dad hired a Hitman. There's 
Liz: [00:01:21] no way that dad wasn't involved. Let's just put it that way. The dad's such a Dick. Yeah, he's horrible. 
Emily: [00:01:27] So those are our recommendations. Oh, you don't have glasses. Last thing, Liz and I aren't drinking today. I 
Liz: [00:01:34] know you guys are shocked, but sometimes you just gotta take a 
Emily: [00:01:37] break.
So we will not be clinking, 
Liz: [00:01:40] but. Cheers. Cheers to those who are
All right. Are you ready? I'm ready. Hit me with your con artists. 
Emily: [00:01:56] My con artist is Sanday Kim's. She was at a, uh, American con artist and murderer who committed horrendous crimes in the United States with the help of her son, Kenneth Kim's who a family, a family at con artists duo got to love it. My sources include vanity fair oxygen.
Nope. Just those two. Did any fare in oxygen. I don't know too much about her background and this woman, she's a con artist. She constantly lies. So we don't know a lot, but what we do know is she was born into a family and I believe she had a sister and then her father left her mother. So her, her sister and her mother were homeless and they were forced to beg on the streets.
And one day she went to a store and she was begging and clearly she, you know, look disheveled. And she was placed in adoption or she was placed in foster care. And from there she was adopted by a really wealthy family. Okay. 
Liz: [00:02:48] I think I got it. So from her 
Emily: [00:02:50] earlier, she was homeless, but then she went to a wealthy family.
She was super popular, had a ton of money friends and she was beautiful. So she had a great life, but definitely some weird shit happened when she was 
Liz: [00:03:01] homeless. That'll mess you up. I think. 
Emily: [00:03:02] Yeah, I agree. So then the year is 1974 and she marries a man named Kenneth Kim's who's 57 years old and he's 18 years older than her.
So a bit of a sugar daddy, I'd say he was divorced and had two kids from his previous marriage, but that was over. So now he found his new wife Sante. Kim's a younger version. Exactly. So even though he was a sugar daddy, She didn't necessarily have access to as well. He'd spent a ton of money on her. And even though they were married, his name was on the bank accounts and all the houses, they owned multiple houses on the house deeds.
So she couldn't just spend whatever she wanted whenever she essentially had to butter him up and flatter him to get what you wanted. That's 
Liz: [00:03:47] sounds like not a very healthy relationship in my head opinion. So she 
Emily: [00:03:51] would flatter him. She would boost his ego and she would win him recognition. What does that 
Liz: [00:03:57] mean?
Yeah. What does that mean? 
Emily: [00:03:59] What's a bicentennial. Is that 200 years? Yeah, I think so. So I guess on the 200th year of the American revolution, it was like a big deal for whatever reason. So she was selling posters and bumper stickers with the official logo on it. So I think that was illegal, but she was making a ton of money.
So it was like a very simple con. Okay. But then the other thing she did is she got the official bicentennial of the American revolution commission. She got their logo from a letterhead, and then she published a press release with their logo. And she said that Mr. Kim's. So her husband has been recognized by the heads of state of the United nations and given recognition for his contributions among the world of school children.
Wow. So that's what I mean by shoe, get them recognition. Like she wants to be with a powerful man. So she would do these like random cons. So he looked powerful. And unbelievably that one's so well that the bicentennial commission reached out to her and they were like, Hey, we want to have your husband speak at X, Y, and Z, since he's, you know, official member and has such a high title.
Liz: [00:05:03] Oh my God. So it worked all right. That's kind of impressive. 
Emily: [00:05:08] Okay. So now you have a general idea of this. Woman's very cunning, but by 1978, so four years after her marriage, her scams start to escalate. She in one case bought a $30,000 Rolex for her husband and then filed a claim that it was stolen. She also apparently went to test, drive a Cadillac and drove it off the lot and just never 
Liz: [00:05:31] came back.
That's also impressive to get away with. Yeah, this one was 
Emily: [00:05:35] a kind of a badass she's terrible, but smart woman. She even claimed that she had a hundred thousand dollar tapestry that was lost. I think maybe someone stole it or as lost during shipment. So she filed a claim with the insurance company and a hundred thousand dollars in the late seventies is a ton of money.
Oh 
Liz: [00:05:53] yeah. It seems easy to be getting insurance money from, for this 
Emily: [00:05:57] lady will not this case with the a hundred thousand dollars tapestry, the insurance company said no and suit her. Oh, wow. So she hires a lawyer and overtime, she doesn't pay his legal bills and she just disappeared. So that's really messed up.
But then the lawyer decides he's gonna try to charge her, whoever he can't find her. So he goes to a detective to help, and the tactic pulls a background report on this woman, and it turns out that she had crimes, including petty theft, auto theft, and credit card forgery, and had 20 aliases 
Liz: [00:06:28] under her. Also did her husband like think this behavior was okay.
It 
Emily: [00:06:33] sounds like he was madly in love with her and he sounds like a gentle soul who just went along 
Liz: [00:06:37] with it. Sad. But girl pear grow a pair. 
Emily: [00:06:42] So that is, I think it paints a really good picture of her, but now her husband and her have a boy also named Kenneth we'll call him Kenny. And he was born in 1975. So why he was a baby.
He had plenty of nanny is. They had so much money between her husband. He was a self-made man and all of her schemes, like they had nannies, they had private tutors for him. They were very wealthy. One weird sign was though she was extremely controlling over Kenny and she wouldn't send him to school. Uh, she didn't want him to have any friends, so she essentially had him homeschooled and that is a bad sign.
Agreed. Tabs we'll know tabs away earlier. Yes. So now the years, 1985 and the family Sunday, her husband and her son are in a hotel and Kenny's asleep. So Sunday convinces her husband to go downstairs to the bar and ends up stealing another woman's $5,000 mink coat for no reason, because Sandy had multiple mink coats.
She just wanted to do it for the thrill 
Liz: [00:07:44] of it. For kicks. We always go back to Winona Ryder. 
Emily: [00:07:47] Yes, very Wynnona rider. Like. However this time the FBI gets involved and charges her with it. So after all of her crimes, she's finally getting charged for this mink coat. The jury finds her guilty and then has to deliberate on what her sentencing is.
So once she's found guilty, she just walks out of the courtroom, hops on a plane and fleas. Okay. So then what's really interesting. And I'll move on after this is years later, actually, since she wasn't there to be heard her sentencing, they had to reverse the decision. And then she was later found innocent.
What was, seems like a huge loophole. And I'm sure they figured that out, but like, The one time she's caught, then she's later found innocent. Like this is crazy. 
Liz: [00:08:35] That is. Completely messed up and wow. I don't even have words for that. Like, Oh, if you can get away with it in time, before you hear your sentence, then you're free.
It 
Emily: [00:08:45] makes no sense. But then a month after that, after she was charged with that, the FBI charges her and her husband on the charge of slavery. So apparently they were taking random, young, Mexican woman and bringing them in with a promise of being housemaid. However, they would lock them in their rooms.
They would beat them and they wouldn't pay them. And there's even cases where they would go to Mexico and kidnap women. Oh my God, 
Liz: [00:09:11] that I feel like things just escalated. 
Emily: [00:09:13] So all these women finally got together and filed a lawsuit. So you have all these woman testimonies and also Kenny, the son, all of his tutors came forward and said, yes, I witnessed so much abuse.
They would lock these womans in closets. They would beat them. They would burn them with irons, all this, all these horrible things. So she hires a lawyer, obviously someday, and she tells the lawyer, none of this is true and she's so kind to the lawyer, she would sign emails to him and say, To the best lawyer in the world from president of your fan club, that's like what 
Liz: [00:09:46] con artists do 
Emily: [00:09:47] best.
Exactly. Some of her help she is beating and then her lawyer, she is. So what's the word? Like 
Liz: [00:09:56] charismatic width. Yeah. And I don't know. I feel like it's just like stroking their egos. So people 
Emily: [00:10:02] fall in line. Yeah. Yeah. She's clearly a narcissist associate path like this woman's crazy, but she, she does it well.
Also her defense to her lawyer is none of this is true. The woman, all the, these maids. It actually, in fact, their lawyer is part of the mob and he's just trying to steal my fortune. And he's the one who's corrupt. Cause he's in the mob interesting approach. Yeah. So the lawyers not buying at her personal lawyers, not buying it.
He goes to her house one day, sneaks upstairs and sees that all the maid's room have dead, dead bolts. Is that what they're called on the outside? So he, he realizes his client is guilty and is in fact. Imprisoning these women. Yeah. That's like true imprisonment. So Santi realizes that her lawyer no longer believes her and is drinking her Kool-Aid so she or sorry.
She allegedly sends a firebomb to his office and the next day she goes up to him and she says, see, I told you the mob would get you. I knew you would be next. Does he believe her? No, he it's never been proven it's her, but he believes that she did it. And it was one of those things where like, She blew up his office just to prove a point and try to get him back on her side.
Like she took it a step too far. Yeah. And she doesn't care about anyone or anything. She just is doing anything that fits to her plan is like, you know, helps her motive. 
Liz: [00:11:28] Yeah. She's doing anything for people to believe her, 
Emily: [00:11:31] to the point of blowing up her own lawyer's office psychotic. Well, after all of that, the jury is not buying it and they find her guilty and they send her to prison.
Thank God. However, they don't send her husband and he has to pay a fine and do probation. But. They essentially think he's just a pawn in the game. So why she's in prison? Kenneth, the father and Kenny started life on their own and by all reports, it was amazing. Kenny said, Kenny, the son, when his mother is in prison, it was the happiest years of his life.
His father sent Kenny to school, encourage him to have friends. It sounds like they were doing amazing without this crazy woman on there. 
Liz: [00:12:14] I'm sensing. Something bad happening. She gets out of prison. 
Emily: [00:12:18] No, we'll do things once she gets out prison and then also kind of the father dies. Oh, so now he's not there to protect his son from his wife and then even more so is when he dies.
He doesn't leave any of his fortune to Sunday or Kenny. He leaves it all to his children from his previous marriage. 
Liz: [00:12:41] That's weird that he would cut Kenny out 
Emily: [00:12:42] of it. The will hadn't been updated since the seventies. So it sounds like maybe that was a will from his first marriage and then he just never created another one.
Keep up with these things. Yeah. So Sandra and Kenny are driven closer and they have no money. So Sandy convinces Kenny, to be a part of her schemes. Their first scheme was essentially a cigar smuggling, something. I don't know. All I know is that we're making money smuggling cigars, and they kept a ton of their money in the Gulf union bank, which was a bank in Qatar.
So, Hmm. Definitely some like sketchy transactions going on. And then a 55 year old accountant named SIADH Bilal Ahmed it's thought that he picked up on some of the illegal things that they were doing because he worked at an accountant at this bank and he was going to report them. So Sandy being the lovely woman that she is and by Tim over for lunch, and that was the last A1C ever seen of him.
Oh no. So an accountant figured out what they were doing, whatever it was, I don't even know. And they killed him. 
Liz: [00:13:47] You would think accounting is a low-risk job? 
Emily: [00:13:49] No, it's not. Um, But now all these terrible things, this woman's doing like petty theft to slavery. Now she's crossed the line into murder and her son to moving forward the year is 1992.
They're facing a ton of lawsuits left and right. And doesn't sound like it bothers them when they have lawsuits against them. Like the mink coat and such. This woman is a narcissist to her. Nothing applies to her. 
Liz: [00:14:13] And it's just like an annoyance, probably. 
Emily: [00:14:15] Exactly. But regardless, she wants to start hiding some of her money that she was making, because if any lawsuit did go through, she didn't want to pay it.
So she had a friend whose name was David Kazdin that she knew since the seventies. So she said to him, can I transfer the date of my house and put it in your name? That way, when people are assessing my value, they won't see that to like, people can't really Sue me 
Liz: [00:14:37] for that much. If your friend asks you to do that, don't do that.
And 
Emily: [00:14:41] stop being friends with them. If you came to me and said, you really need me to do this for whatever reason I would, because I've known you for years and I trust you. So this man David Kazdin trusted Sunday, shady, but 
Liz: [00:14:51] thank you for being such a good friend. 
Emily: [00:14:52] Of course. I mean, you don't have a house, so I don't have to worry about it, but very true.
So he agrees four years later. He goes to Sandra and Kenny and says, please take my name off of it. You know, it's been a long enough and they say, okay, no problem. But two years later, so it's a six years after they initially asked him, he gets a piece of mail from a bank and it's a giant mortgage that's taken out in his name that he's never seen before.
So what Santi did was she kept the, her house in his name. And then took out a mortgage on the house and then pocketed all the money. 
Liz: [00:15:29] Oh, how do you do that? Without having the actual person 
Emily: [00:15:33] a forge signatures. Okay. He finds out, obviously he gets the bill for the mortgage and he confronts Kenyan Santi. So they shoot him in his own house and kill him.
Oh my God. And he gets worse then. The two of them start driving around California. They find a homeless man. They kidnap him, they imprison him and then they make him pretend to be a homeowner and they forged signatures. So they transfer the deed of the house from David Kazdin to this homeless man. So now this homeless man owns this house.
I am 
Liz: [00:16:08] shook right 
Emily: [00:16:09] now that they imprisoned. They then take out a fire insurance policy in this homeless man's name and burn down the house and collect all the money. Oh my 
Liz: [00:16:18] God. Like who thinks of things like this? I know this is like wild, 
Emily: [00:16:23] but back to David Kazdin. So that's their second murder 
Liz: [00:16:26] now. Does anyone ever wonder why he like where he.
Went or why he 
Emily: [00:16:30] died? Oh yeah. Everybody was suspicious of Sandra and her son, all of his friends thought they did it. So Sandy and her son, this happened in California, hit the road and started driving to New York city. Got it. But to get there, uh, Oh, just also for timeline now we're in 1998. Not that it matters, but yeah, so to get there, they phone their friend named Jim Blattner and they buy a Lincoln town car from him and he's been selling them cars for a few years.
So he drops off the car. Sunday, gives him a check and their transactions done. But then when he goes to cash, the check, it bounces. So saute apologizes, give some another check. And that also bounces. So three weeks after he gives them the car, he goes to his friend, who's a detective. So the detective looks into it and then decides to put out an arrest warrant for Sandra and her son.
But regardless they have left California and they are in New York city bound. They chose New York city because they heard of this old woman named Irene Silverman. She was a very rich 82 year old widow who was known as a flamboyant extroverted socialite who lived in a mansion in New York city. And she.
Renovated the mansion. So she put four individual apartments in there and she would rent those out and sounds like she would rent them out to friends or artists, or like really wealthy people who are going to be in New York city. Like it was a socialite scene. So they essentially make her their next target and they want to steal this 82 year old woman's wealth.
No, not Irene. It's so sad. And also by all accounts, everyone says that Irene is just the kindest woman who constantly threw parties and let her parties it'd be other famous musicians or artists. And then her, her butcher, her local butcher would be there. Like she included everybody. I love her. It's so sad.
So Santi calls Silverman and says, hello, my name is Eva Guerrero. And my boss is this really rich, real estate developer in Florida. And he needs to move in Silverman falls for it, but Silverman says sure, when he gets here, just give me, he has to provide an ID and references. So Kenny shows up and he goes by the name, Manny wherein.
And he tells Silverman, I'm ready to rent your apartment. However, I don't have references or my ID I'll get them to you tomorrow. Here's $6,000 in cash. So she overlooks it. However, throughout the week he avoids her. He won't give her the documentation that she's looking for. And every time he walks in and out of the house, he tilts his head to avoid cameras.
So Silverman instantly know something's wrong and tries to evict him. But we both live in New York city and we know how hard it is to evict. So obviously the process will take a few weeks. So while she's trying to evict him, Kenny is living in the apartment with his mother, 
Liz: [00:19:24] talk about mommy issues. Yeah, 
Emily: [00:19:27] exactly.
And we'll get there. It gets worse. So they're living there and their whole goal is to steal Silverman's fortune. So they start plotting. They get a copy of the deed to the mansion. They did some sketchy thing where they bribed somebody and paid in cash. Now they've a deed to the mansion. They wrote to the lawyer's title insurance corporation and got the forms necessary for a transfer of the deed to the house.
They even called Silverman, pretending that she won a trip to Las Vegas and asked her for her social security number. But this smart woman said, fuck you. Oh, amazing. They then called her lawyer. Oh no. They then called her accountant and said, I'm looking to you a long-term rental. I want to do a background check.
Can I have her social security number? And the accountant said, fuck off. They have a lot of the things necessary to do a property transfer, but they don't have her participation or her social security number. So they get a notary to show up one day and Santee the mother pretends to be Silverman. So she signs the property transfer and they get it notarized.
That's 
Liz: [00:20:35] insane. Did this person not know how old the lady was supposed to 
Emily: [00:20:38] be? I know also it sounds like find a few different notaries. Cause most people turned it down, so they just got one note or a real sketchy one. Exactly. Okay. So they have the paperwork signed, then July 5th, one of silver mens maids, and there's only one made in the house.
Cause this is 4th of July weekend. See Silverman says, hi, goes to run errands. When she comes back, Silverman is nowhere to be found. Oh no. So the maid instantly calls nine 11 and reports are missing. I think, you know where I'm going with this, obviously Sunday and Kenny killed Silverman. 
Liz: [00:21:16] That was like sad, really, really sad, poor woman.
She sounded so fabulous 
Emily: [00:21:21] to Santi calls. One of her friends from California and says, come to New York. I have a new property for you to manage because in her mind she owns it. Now, what she doesn't know is that the FBI flipped him to be an informant. Oh. So he, cause he, FBI is onto this woman. So he says, sure, I'll come to New York city.
Then he immediately calls the FBI. So FBI finds out where she is and they surround her and Kenny and arrest them outside of the Hilton in New York city. All right, but they arrest her on grand theft auto charges 
Liz: [00:21:59] from the town car. 
Emily: [00:22:00] Yeah. They don't even know that they did this to Silverman. Okay. Then different New York city detectives who have nothing to do with that case start investigating Silverman's death and they run a check on all of her, all the renters in her house.
And they realize that Manny and Eva, the two names that Sante and Kenny gave were fake. And like I said, the FBI tracks your aliases. So they realize who the real people are. And then they realize that two days ago they were arrested on grand theft auto charges. So the two New York city units come together and they charged Sunday with stealing the car.
But then also charged the, both of them with murder. There is no body or DNA evidence. So you would think the case is hard, but they have all of this proof that they targeted Silverman. They came to New York city for Silverman. They're trying to get her social security. So when they present that in court, they instantly found the two of them guilty.
They were given a 120 years in prison or Santee was given 120 and Kenny was given 126. Great. One thing to call out is you said he has mommy issues in court. They were very touchy, feely you, uh, they gave a 60 minute interview where again, they were touchy feely. And then Kenny said, quote, I think my mother is a beautiful person spiritually.
Intellectually and physically, Ooh. 
Liz: [00:23:23] Oh my God. That is so gross. Although 
Emily: [00:23:26] apparently when they were interviewing them in the police room before the trial or anything, he would call through the walls for his mother and be like, mom, are you okay? And she'd respond. I can't find someone like separation, anxiety and everything.
Liz: [00:23:40] I feel bad for the kid. I mean, I think this is one of those situations where he probably would have had a normal life, if not for her 
Emily: [00:23:49] agreed. And he hated her for his whole life. And it sounds like once his dad died, he just cracked, but he would have had a normal life, but regardless he killed three people.
So 
Liz: [00:23:58] yeah, I don't 
Emily: [00:23:59] feel that bad. One crazy thing is obviously people know that they not only killed silver men in New York city, but they killed David Kazdin back in California. So they were arrested in New York, but the FBI wanted to extradite them to California where the death penalty was at the time.
So Kenny freaks out gives a jailhouse interview in 2002, a reporter named Maria zone. And in the middle of the interview, he takes her hostage and puts a ballpoint pen to her neck. And he demands that his mother not be extradited to California. Does that work? No, the, the police or the jail guards overpowered him, but the FBI agreed.
They say, if you admit to every crime that you guys did and all your murders, we will take death penalty off the table for you and your mother. So he agreed. Okay. So Kenny eventually comes clean emits to everything, but Santi refused and said, I don't know why my son saying all this. He clearly acted alone.
I've done nothing wrong. What a bitch, such a bitch. You brainwashed your son. And now you're saying that like how terrible. So at the end of the day, uh, Santi died in her cell in Bedford Hills correctional facility in Westchester. In 2014 when she is 79 years old and Kenny is still behind bars and will be behind bars, the rest of his life.
Wow. That was a very long one. So I'm just going to, do you have any questions? Does that make sense? It didn't make 
Liz: [00:25:25] sense. Um, there was a lot going on, but I think I got it. Santa is crazy person. 
Emily: [00:25:31] Crazy, crazy people. Well, now 
Liz: [00:25:32] I'm excited to hear yours. Another con artist. Did you know that con artist means confidence artists?
Wow. Good for them. I know. I was like, I found that during my research and I was like, this makes 
Emily: [00:25:44] total sense. I'm very impressed by that. Yeah. 
Liz: [00:25:47] Well, with that being said, 
Emily: [00:25:48] we'll move to you. 
Liz: [00:25:50] Let's do it. Let me have a sip of my water. Cause we're lame this week.
All right. Long intermission. 
Emily: [00:26:04] We just talked about Armie hammer for 20 minutes. 
Liz: [00:26:07] It's just so shocking. We both believe it. It is disturbing beyond belief, but I, I think I believe it all right onto my con artist who is Frank Abignail Jr. The person who the movie catch me, if you can, is based on, I am so 
Emily: [00:26:24] excited.
That movie is so 
Liz: [00:26:25] fabulous. I noticed that it's on Instagram now, so I actually might watch it on 
Emily: [00:26:30] Instagram. Netflix that being said, follow us on Instagram. If you haven't yet 
Liz: [00:26:35] at that's a bad sign with some underscores in between, but you'll find us. Yeah. All right. My references are Wikipedia biography.com and biz journals.com.
Love it. Um, which is actually an interview with the real Frank Abignail so very interesting. Frank William Abignail Jr. Was born on April 27th, 1948 in Westchester, New York. He had a French mother and an Italian American father. He spent the first 16 years of his life living in new Rochelle New York, which is in Westchester.
Yeah, pretty 
Emily: [00:27:05] close to us right 
Liz: [00:27:05] now. Yes. But when he was 12 years old, his parents separated. And by the time he turned 16, they were divorced Frank's father, as they portray in the movie, he's a very wealthy man who enjoyed theater politics, and he was kind of a role model for his son. Oh, well now let's get into the cons.
So Frank Jr's first con targeted his own father. Really his father gave him a gasoline credit card and a truck to help him commute to and from his part-time job  and Frank being a 15 year old boy at the time also wanted money to be going on dates. So he used the gas card to buy tires, batteries, and other car related items, but then he would return the items and ask for cash back from the cashiers, instead of having them put the credit back on the credit card.
Smart kid. So that way he ended up with cash in his pocket and his father wound up with a credit card, bill totaling, $3,400, which is over $28,000 today. Oh my God. And he was 15, 
Emily: [00:28:05] $28,000. 
Liz: [00:28:07] Yeah. Like how many dates are you going on? 
Emily: [00:28:09] That's so much money to steal from your parents. 
Liz: [00:28:12] Yeah. I didn't read any of about any consequences that came of that, but I imagined his father would be pretty angry.
Oh my God. So Frank eventually moved on and his schemes included things called confidence tricks, which are attempts to defraud a person or a group after first gaining their trust. So I think that's kind of definition of like what a con artist is. That's really sad. So he would do a few things to commit fraud against banks.
He would write personal checks on his own overdrawn account. Uh, but that only worked for a short period of time before the bank demanded payment back from him. So he eventually opened up accounts at different banks under new identities. That's horrible. As he continued these scams, he came up with different ways of defrauding banks, such as printing out his own copies of checks like payroll checks, and then he would deposit them and encourage the banks to give him an advance in cash based on his account balance kind of confusing.
But I think he's just like tricking the bank. Into thinking that he has a lot of money in his account and he doesn't. So they're giving him a cash advance. Um, would any of these work today? No, not on the banks. And, um, because in the interview that Frank Abigail gives, he says banks have done. A ton in terms of ramping up their security, but there's a lot of other schemes they say that are so much more possible now because of like technology.
All right. Let's dive into those later. This one, fascinating to you. He would magnetically print his account number on the blank deposit slips at the bank, and he would put. Those slips back into the pile. And then when a customer tried to deposit money into their account, after writing out one of these slips, it would actually just end up in Frank's account.
Oh my God. He now admits that he didn't even know if this was going to work, but he'd just decided to try it anyway. So he called the bank the next day and they told him that he had $42,000 in his account. I 
Emily: [00:30:04] just sat back on my chair and put my, uh, covered my mouth. I'm blown away. Imagine 
Liz: [00:30:09] his surprise.
And he's still a teenager at this point. So smart kid. There was also a time when he was sitting at an airport and he noticed that people were putting money in a bank Knight box. So the next day he rented a security guard uniform from a local costume place. And he put a sign over the box that said out of service, please place deposits with security guard on duty and people would just hand him their money.
What is a night box aside looked this up, shockingly. Good for you. And it is a locked metal box where businesses in this case, businesses from the airport would deposit their daily cash checks and credit slips. If it wasn't normal banking hours, like if the bank was closed, you would deposit it into the night box.
Oh my God. So you're just stealing from their revenue. So horrible. But can you imagine he literally just rented a costume and stood next to the box? 
Emily: [00:31:06] I mean, that's 
Liz: [00:31:07] ballsy also. I mean, it would never happen these days because of airport security. Anyway, you can't just waltz into an airport just because you want to, I picture him just like smoking a cigarette, like taking everyone's money.
Exactly. It's ridiculous. So then he moved on from defrauding. Well, he didn't really move on from it. He just, I would say evolved, escalated, and he began impersonating people or characters that he made up. Frank started dressing up as a pilot when he would go to cash, his fraudulent checks at the bank so that he looked more legitimate, good for him to do this.
He called up Pan-Am the airline. And he told them that he was a pilot working for them, and that he had lost his uniform while he was getting it cleaned at a hotel. They gave him the address of where to go to get a new uniform. And he ends up just being able to order one under a fake employee ID number that he gives, Oh my God.
He then made a fake federal aviation administration, pilots license. And to top it all off, even though he was just a teenager, he, his hair was going a little bit gray, which really helped him with his persona, that he was supposed to be an older or more mature person who was a pilot. Is he good looking.
Not really. Okay. But Leo is I exactly. So then he started flying for free all over the country on pan am flights by deadheading, which is when, I guess a person who works for a transportation company gets free transportation from the companies that they're working for. So he didn't have to pay for any tickets because he was a Pan-Am pilot.
They still do that today. Pan-Am has estimated that between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, Frank flew for free over 1 million miles on more than 250 flights and went to 26 different countries. I mean, like, I know it's illegal, but it's so impressive. Oh, I don't 
Emily: [00:32:54] care at all. Like he's a teenager, you know, just doing silly kid stuff.
Liz: [00:33:00] And in addition to having free flights, Frank also stayed at hotels for free as a pilot, and he would bill his food to the airline. He 
Emily: [00:33:10] is ballsy. That's all I can say. 
Liz: [00:33:12] Here's where it gets a little bit scary. Uh, Frank was also sometimes invited by other pilots to take control of the plane in flight. And there was one time where he was given control of a plane flying at 30,000 feet and he put the plane on autopilot.
And he was quoted later saying I was very much aware that I had been handed custody of 140 lives, my own included, because I couldn't even fly a kite is so horrifying. Is it bad that he put it on autopilot? No, I feel like that's what they do for the most part. I don't know. 
Emily: [00:33:47] Oh my 
Liz: [00:33:49] God. Thank God. I didn't hit any turbulence or anything like that.
Eventually after a few years, PanAm started to catch on and Frank realized that he was being pursued by the police. So he decided to create a new identity, but he didn't get arrested 
Emily: [00:34:03] or 
Liz: [00:34:03] charged. No, I think he like escaped. He obviously was flying under a fake name. 
Emily: [00:34:10] Also that doesn't look good for Pan-Am to be like we had a 16 year old flying you around legally.
Liz: [00:34:15] It's a very fair point. Imagine if like the media got ahold of that. Yeah. 
Emily: [00:34:18] Pan-Am was probably like, don't do 
Liz: [00:34:20] anything leave quietly. So then Frank moved to Georgia under an alias, Frank Williams, and then he went to rent an apartment. And while he was filling out the paperwork, he instinctively listed his occupation as doctor.
Because he thought the owner of the building might check out Pan-Am. If he listed pilot as his job, then Frank befriended, a real doctor who lived in the building and agreed to help this guy out by acting as the supervisor of resident interns at his hospital until the local hospital could find someone else to take the job.
So this guy was like, will you come be basically in charge of my interns, medical interns at the hospital? And Frank says, sure, 
Emily: [00:35:01] How did he convince the guy of that? I don't 
Liz: [00:35:03] know. There's like, not a lot of info on that, but he convinced him. So he was able to kind of fake his way through that job because he would just allow the residents to show off how they were handling their cases.
You know, like a medical intern is going to want to be like, Oh, look, I did this. Or I, you know, solved whatever problem was going on. So he could just kind of be like, good job. So what does he do? But, okay. So then there was one time where he was nearly exposed because there was an infant that was suffering from oxygen deprivation and he didn't understand the meaning and the seriousness of what was going on.
And he didn't know how to actually help. Uh, uh, so then he decided it was best to leave the hospital because he realized he was putting actual people's lives at risk. See, that makes me like him. Yeah. He was like, all right, Jake is up. I'm not trying to kill anyone moving on. And then there was a third identity.
So while Frank had been impersonating a Pan-Am pilot, he forged a Harvard university law transcript and passed to the Louisiana bar exam. And he got a job at the Louisiana state attorney General's office at the age of 19. 
Emily: [00:36:12] Can I just say passing the bar without going to law school is I feel like nearly 
Liz: [00:36:15] impossible.
So he failed it twice and then passed it the third time. And he said, quote, Louisiana at the time allowed you to take the bar over and over as many times as you needed, it was really a matter of eliminating what you got wrong. So he would just memorize the questions he got wrong. Wow. So he was a fake lawyer for a total of eight months.
Why only eight months? I don't know, moved on. So after all of those impersonations, it said that Frank bounced around from job to job fig job to fake job for the next two years. And he eventually moved to Montpellier France. And tried to live a straight life after having cashed $2.5 million worth of bad checks.
Okay. I like it at this point. He's really well known to the authorities and they were after him. And he's just 21 years old 
Emily: [00:37:04] at this point. One question I have for you in the movie, he is engaged to a 
Liz: [00:37:09] woman. I think that relationship, I'm not sure if they actually got engaged, but that relationship is based on a real relationship that he had when he was impersonating about being a doctor.
Emily: [00:37:18] Oh, be good doctor. Wow. All right. So he's in France. He's in France. 
Liz: [00:37:22] Okay. And one of his former girlfriends, he had a few who was an air France flight attendant, recognized his face on a wanted poster and she helped the police find him. And then he got arrested in France. Yup. There were at this point 12 different countries that wanted to extradite him for fraud charges.
What I thought only United States. No, all over the place. So Frank served six months in France and then was extradited to Sweden where he served another six months. And then finally he was extradited to the United States. Now, while Frank was being deported to the United States, he escaped from a plane as it was turning onto a taxiway at JFK airport in New York.
So the flight lands, he escapes, it was nighttime when the flight landed. So he also had the cover of darkness to help him flee. Cause like you hop off of a plane on the middle of. The taxi way. Where are you going? Yeah, but he's scaled a fence. God hailed a cab and went to grand central terminal. How would he pay for the cab?
Emily: [00:38:27] I don't know. That's a great question. Just 
Liz: [00:38:28] like ran once. I I'm sure. He, he figured his way out of it. He then went to the Bronx to change clothes and pick up a set of keys at a safe deposit box that he had kept there. And the box contained $20,000. From there. He caught a train to Montreal where he purchased a plane ticket to Sao Paolo Brazil.
Wow. And so the FBI is obviously looking for him and he almost makes it onto this flight to Brazil, but he's captured by the RCMP while he's standing at a ticket counter at the airport. Damn. I wonder if they knew that he was going to go to Montreal, like how did they get word to the Canadian police to be like, look, I guess just every single airport.
Yeah. So then he's sent back to the United States where he is sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison for multiple counts of forgery bill. I know he also one time escaped from a federal detention center in Atlanta while he was awaiting a trial. Love it. There was apparently some confusion and he was mistaken for an undercover prisoner inspector and given like more rights than everyone else because they thought he was working for the first time.
And he had someone on the outside slip him a business card that said that he was an inspector. Holy crap. So he escaped and he managed to make it to New York and was on his way to Brazil when he was recognized by the MIPT. So again, Almost made it, but then plan was foiled. Yeah. 
Emily: [00:39:56] And what he's like 23 at this point?
Liz: [00:39:58] Yeah. He's young lad. Wow. So after serving only seven years of his sentence, Frank was released on the condition that he would help the federal authorities without pay to investigate scam artists and fraud. Because who better to help you catch a scam artist, then the best scam artists there ever was agreed.
Um, he did have to get obviously a legitimate job. So he worked a few jobs as a cook, a grocer, but he oftentimes was fired after his employers found out that he lied about his criminal past, because you have to check the box that says you've never committed a felony. Yeah. Frank decided he didn't like any of those jobs anyway.
So he approached a bank with an offer. He explained to the bank, what he had done and offered to teach the bank staff, how to spot fraudulent checks and scammers. And he said, if they didn't find his information helpful, they didn't have to pay him anything. But if they did, they would pay him $50 and spread the word to other banks.
He was a consultant. Yep. My next sentence is from there. He started a legitimate career as a security consulting. 
Emily: [00:41:02] So people always found it useful. Yes. I'm so 
Liz: [00:41:06] blown away. So Frank now lives in South Carolina with his wife, Kelly, whom he met while he was working undercover for the FBI. And they have three sentence together.
He has now worked for the federal government for over 40 years and he teaches at the FBI Academy. Um, and I will leave you with a quote that he said when he was asked in an interview with biz journals.com. If crime pays, he said, quote, no, that's a tremendous burden to have to actually live with. It always has been and always will be, it was not what the movies make it out to be.
It was a very lonely life. I would never live it over. I love that. 
Emily: [00:41:44] So he's reformed. I also read that he. Created like a machine to help check if checks were real, like not only was he a consultant, but he created the technology and the software to prevent this sort of thing. And he was a millionaire. Like, I don't even know.
Maybe he's a billionaire. He made so much money. Oh yeah. 
He 
Liz: [00:42:04] has. He's definitely really well off. I mean, the guy's a genius for sure. And I also want to point out that. In the movie, how Leo and Tom Hanks have that sort of like love, hate relationship. Yeah. I think they actually had that kind of relationship in real life.
The FBI guy who was in charge of capturing him. 
Emily: [00:42:21] I read that too. That was true because. It's unlike you're going after some like 50 year old scam artists. When you realize he's 19, you, you have respect. 
Liz: [00:42:31] Yeah. And you're just like, this kid is smart. He's smarter 
Emily: [00:42:34] than the rest of us and he's taken advantage of it.
Liz: [00:42:36] Anyway. I've always been fascinated by that movie and the whole story in general. 
Emily: [00:42:40] I love it. I'm so happy you did that. I don't even care that there's no murder involved. 
Liz: [00:42:45] And this concludes our con artist episode. 
Emily: [00:42:48] I love when we do themes without realizing 
Liz: [00:42:50] it. I know, I swear. I did not know. 
Emily: [00:42:53] Well, we mentioned this, follow us on Instagram and also leave 
Liz: [00:42:58] us a review, please.
If you are enjoying the podcast, go on Apple podcasts and leave us a review and a rating. Yes, please. And please go tell your friends. And I also want to mention we're going global. Our last episode had listeners from 10 different countries. So 
Emily: [00:43:17] we see 
Liz: [00:43:17] you and we love you all Australia, especially pulling through re I 
Emily: [00:43:22] noticed that too.
We love you. So this is when we cheers 
Liz: [00:43:27] you up fixtures, clink. .

Murder start