Know When You’ve Been Frank’d

by Matt Shamblin

Have you ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can? It’s loosely based on the real life autobiography of a man named Frank Abagnale Jr. Now a security consultant, Frank was a conman, check forger, document forger, impostor and escape artist.

In the 1960s Frank forged over $2 million in checks in 26 countries over a 5 year time frame starting when he was only 16. Most of which were Pan-Am checks seeing  as how his favorite con was posing as a Pan-Am pilot. He deadheaded over 1 million miles on over 250 flights. As a “pilot” he was also able to get everything from food to hotels on his little excursions all on Pan-Am’s dime.

Besides being a “pilot”, Frank was also a “doctor”, “Harvard Law School Graduate” (He actually managed to pass the bar in Louisiana becoming an attorney), taught sociology at Brigham Young University for a semester (He forged a Colombia University degree).

So after learning about Frank Abagnale, I started using Frank’s name do describe any activity dealing with forgery, confidence scams, hoaxes and impostors. For example, if I see an image that has been manipulated in post and is being billed as real you’ll hear me say “Somebody Frank’d that one!”

So what the hell is the purpose of this article besides me talking about Frank Abagnale? Well, as an investigator, you need to be aware that the ghost you have just seen in the mirror may have been a cut out wall with a shelf, light, ghost head and a two-way mirror. There are some sick bastards out there and you need to make sure that you don’t make an ass of yourself with this “definitive proof” of the paranormal. All the while he’s sitting somewhere laughing his ass off because you fell for it. There was yet another case where a guy had hidden a speaker in his wall so he could con the investigators into thinking his house was haunted.

Not all Franks are alike though! Be careful not to Frank yourself. A woman was terrified because she kept hearing loud banging noises at night. With a little due diligence, the investigating team discovered that the neighbor was knocking the bottom out of his girlfriend. I guess she wasn’t a screamer… too bad… but I digress.

In my opinion, the best way not to get Frank’d is to learn how Frank yourself. That is really a powerful tool and an asset to the team. If you can take a piece of “evidence” and be able to go through it with a fine tooth comb with skilled eyes and ears, you can then say that you have some concrete evidence! But the key thing is you have to know how to re-create it and then you will be able to see the hallmarks of  a forgery.

While the programs capable of doing these things professionally may cost an arm and a leg, most companies will offer a 30 day free trial of their software. Take that time and use it to your advantage! Don’t just sit there and play around with it because I guarantee that you have no idea what the hell it is your doing!

Get some education from qualified instructors. Lynda.com has a subscription service that will allow you to learn a great deal about all the programs you should know how to use i.e Photoshop and After Effects ( Deke Mcclelland is Photoshop King). My man Andrew Kramer has a great site out there that will teach you how to use After Effects and some 3ds Max and his lessons are free (VideoCopilot.net). CreativeCow.net is another good free source of info. Some sort of audio editing software would be a good thing to know how to use properly Cakewalk would be a good option but my fav wave editor is Adobe Audition (used to be Cool Edit Pro back in the day) but Adobe abandoned it years ago…

So the tip of the day is Don’t Get Frank’d, Don’t Frank Yourself and Learn How To Frank It Up!

Remember: Open Minded Skepticism


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