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Get smart about cybersecurity, with legendary con man Frank W. Abagnale

Leonardo DiCaprio plays famous fraudster Frank W. Abagnale in Steven Spielberg's 2002 film "Catch Me If You Can".
Leonardo DiCaprio plays famous fraudster Frank W. Abagnale in Steven Spielberg's 2002 film "Catch Me If You Can".

Cybercriminals have a wide variety of motivations for their attacks, and, correspondingly, there are a wide variety of targets. While few of us will find ourselves in positions where we have to be actively concerned about cyberwarfare between nations, for instance, we do still need to worry about cybercrime.
Given some of the high-profile headlines, it may come as a surprise that small- and medium-sized businesses are a favorite target for cybercriminals. In fact, nearly 50 percent of all small businesses have experienced a cyberattack at some point, and 60 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses go out of business six months after being attacked. These businesses often don’t have dedicated cybersecurity resources in play, leaving them vulnerable to attack.
An example of a scam that affects individuals as well as businesses is the account takeover. Who better to explain it than Frank W. Abagnale, a former identity thief and con man made famous by the film Catch Me If You Can. In an interview with AARP, he says: “One of the most popular scams is what they call account takeover. You write me a check and I simply go online to a check-printing service and order 200 checks with your account information. I might even put my own name and address on them. Most people don’t reconcile their bank accounts. By your next statement, I’ve already written checks that have cleared your account.”

Senior Citizens as Targets

Official count of reported internet crime incidents in 2018 by age group, and the losses incurred. Note that not all complaints include an associated age range—those without this information are excluded from this table. Source: FBI 2018 Internet Crime Report.

Why is a legendary con man being interviewed by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)? Senior citizens are a frequent target for cybercrime. The FBI’s 2018 Internet Crime Report shows that Americans aged 60 and older filed more than 62,000 fraud complaints and suffered combined losses totaling nearly $650 million. Many senior citizens have saved up over the course of their life for retirement, funds that represent an attractive target for identity thieves. They are less likely to monitor their credit score as well, and many are or are assumed to be less technically savvy than younger members of society.
Identity theft is so common amongst the senior citizen population that the AARP hires consultants like Abagnale to help keep senior citizens informed about this common risk. In this video lesson, Abagnale lays out his top tips for protecting your identity.

For identity thieves, one man’s trash is their treasure—sometimes literally. Learn how to best protect yourself and your business in a myriad of ways with video lessons ‘For You’ and ‘For Business’ from Big Think+. You can sign up for yourself right now, or request a demo for your organization.

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