April 20, 2017
Contact: Jane Margesson
AARP Maine Communications Director
229-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org
AARP Maine Hosts World Fraud Expert, Frank Abagnale, at Portland Scam Awareness Event
500+ residents, members of law enforcement, state agency reps attend
PORTLAND: AARP Maine held their largest scam awareness event to date this evening, designed to raise awareness about scams and fraud. The featured speaker was Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., an expert on outsmarting con artists whose story was portrayed in the feature film Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. The event was held in Hannaford Hall at USM.
The official program began with a two-minute clip from the Steven Spielberg-directed film before Mr. Abagnale took the stage. His opening remarks described how between the ages of 16 and 21, he successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, and a doctor and cashed millions in fraudulent checks. Eventually caught, his exploits were depicted in the movie which was based on his book by the same name.
For over four decades, Abagnale has advised the FBI on how to outsmart con artists. Today, he is an expert on the subject of identity theft, has written three books on the subject and serves as a consultant to some of the largest companies in the world on the subject of cybercrime. As one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents, Abagnale has joined forces with the AARP Fraud Watch Network and AARP Maine.
“With a 16% growth in fraud incidence in 2016 and more than 6% of U.S. consumers affected by fraud, the work of the AARP Fraud Watch Network is more important than ever,” he said. “As Ambassador for the AARP Fraud Watch Network, I am proud to work with AARP Maine to help people learn how to spot and avoid fraud and scams so Mainers can protect themselves and their families.”
Earlier in the day, Abagnale was a panelist along with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on Maine Public’s live broadcast of their call-in radio program Maine Calling. Together, Mr. Abagnale and Attorney General Mills reached thousands of Mainers across the state with their message of fraud awareness and prevention.
“The first step in fighting consumer fraud is prevention,” said Mills. “An informed consumer is a secure consumer and Frank Abagnale is to be lauded for his tireless efforts to raise awareness about these crimes. I thank AARP Maine for their work in educating their members and all older Mainers about what to look for and how they can protect their retirement savings from scammers.”
AARP’s history of safeguarding American’s financial security began more than 50 years ago and fighting identity theft and fraud is part of that core mission. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network (FWN), a national initiative, arms Americans with the tools they need to spot and avoid fraud and scams so they can protect themselves and their families. The FWN was launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. The FWN website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, fun educational quizzes, and video presentations featuring Frank Abagnale. Users may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver breaking scam information, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with trained volunteers.
Last year, FWN launched an online Scam-Tracking Map (powered by Google) which allows consumers nationwide to report instances of fraud schemes, by way of sharing the information with others in their community who may become targeted. The free interactive tool also includes alerts from law enforcement and other public agencies, listed state-by-state.
“The more we work together to raise awareness and empower our community members about these crimes, the more we can successfully prevent them,” said AARP Maine Communications Director, Jane Margesson. “In a rural state like Maine with its far-flung population, it is critical that we share information so we can stay ahead of the scammers.”
AARP Maine’s work to prevent fraud and identity theft will continue throughout 2017. Free shredding events are already scheduled at several locations throughout the state.
Bangor: April 28th from 7-2PM (with free medication disposal from 7-5PM with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office)
Augusta: April 29th from 10-2PM (with free medication disposal at the same time with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office)
Portland: April 29th from 10-2PM (with free medication disposal at the same time with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office)
Bethel: May 13th from 9-12PM (in collaboration with Bethel Age-Friendly Community partners)
Boothbay Harbor: May 13th from 9-12PM (in collaboration with Boothbay Harbor Age-Friendly Community partners)
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @aarp and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.