Legendary con artist warns: Hackers play mind games

Friday, 27 June 2003, 12:32 PM EST

The biggest danger of hackers comes not from massive coding assaults but smiles and conversations.

Take it from Frank Abagnale Jr., the scheming boy wonder turned FBI instructor whose life of deception spawned a book and Steven Spielberg movie, ``Catch Me if You Can.''

Between the ages of 16 and 21, Abagnale who benefited from a fountain of charm, a photographic memory, prematurely gray hair and a 140 IQ masqueraded as a Pan Am pilot, supervising resident doctor, Louisiana lawyer and college sociology professor. In that time, he also managed to cash more than $2.5 million in bogus checks.

The reformed con man was in Chicago last week to pitch for Novell Inc. The security software and Web development firm is jetting Abagnale around the country (he's nowhere near the pilot's seat this time) to recount some of his wild adventures for executives working in technology security and information management.

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