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Today's fraudsters have it easy: Ex-conman

Frank Abagnale, the famous conman portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can, told CNBC that white-collar crime needs more attention than ever.

"Technology breeds crime, it's become 1,000 times easier to do now what I did 50 years ago," he said in a televised interview on Friday.

Despite the advent of the digital age, Abagnale said the mindset behind fraud hasn't changed much.

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"It's really the same thing. I've had to learn a lot more obviously about computers. But in order for people to believe I was who I said I was [when I was a conman], I had to authenticate that. So whether it was a phony pilot's ID or driver's license, it was a means of authenticating myself," he said.

"[Today] you have to authenticate that the person on the computer is in fact who they say they are," he added.

During the 1960s, Abagnale successfully cashed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks across the United States and 26 foreign countries by impersonating various professions including an airline pilot, an attorney, a college professor and a pediatrician.

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Frank Abagnale
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Frank Abagnale

In 1969, at the age of 21, he was arrested by French police. After spending five years in prison in France, Sweden and the U.S. he was released on the condition that he would help U.S. law enforcement agencies bust fellow scam artists.

Since then, Abagnale has earned a squeaky clean reputation by working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations for 36 years as one of the world's foremost authorities on document fraud, forgery and embezzlement.

The convicted criminal is the CEO and founder of Abagnale and Associates, a financial fraud consultancy, as well as an advisor for online fraud intervention company 41st Parameter. He's currently writing requirements for fraud detection software with partner Ori Eisen, the founder of 41st Parameter.

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Abagnale was pardoned by three different U.S. presidents, but refused all of them.

"I don't believe that a piece of paper will excuse my actions. In the end, only my actions will," he said.