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What if I told you that Frank Abagnale wasn't the only con artist in his family? His older brother used multiple aliases, faked his career as a therapist, and was even accused of kidnapping a 7-year-old girl. This episode reveals the dark and puzzling secrets of Frank Abagnale's family history. Correction: In the episode, I mention that Susan was married to Roy Abagnale from 1970 to 1978 - but it was actually 1978 to 1992.  __________ Bonus episodes Sleepover with Leo: https://www.patreon.com/posts/sleepover-with-71435815?utm_medium=clipboard_copy&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=postshare_creator Pernilla busted the Tinder Swindler. Hear her thoughts on Frank Abagnale https://www.patreon.com/posts/pernilla-busted-72501591?utm_medium=clipboard_copy&utm_source=copyLink&utm_campaign=postshare_creator  __________ Have you followed PRETEND on TikTok and Instagram?  Help me start a trending sound. Use this sound of Frank Abagnale denying writing his book, movie, and Broadway play:  https://www.tiktok.com/@pretendpod/video/7145467873979338030?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1 Here are some examples: https://www.tiktok.com/@pretendpod/video/7145483295080385835?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1 https://www.tiktok.com/@pretendpod/video/7145536351801462062?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1 https://www.tiktok.com/@pretendpod/video/7145816794819841326?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This series is not just a story about a con man who lied about his past experiences. No, it's much bigger than that. This series is about correcting history. For decades, we've celebrated Frank Abagnale's life. He's invaded our living rooms in countless tv interviews. He's had Leonardo DiCaprio play him in a movie. John Williams even scored his superhero theme song. And his life has even been turned into a musical that one reviewer wrote: "is an amazing true story with a happy ending we all need." But it turns out that America's favorite con man is really just another petty criminal who's never really repaid all the money he stole. But if we zoom out, this is the story of the spread of misinformation. Where politicians and other grifters have taken a page out of Abagnale's book and learned that if they repeat multiple lies over and over, most people won't question it. And they can get away with it. Frank claims he evaded the FBI for five years. They couldn't catch him even if they tried. Sure, he admits he finally got arrested, but in his version of the story, he's the hero working undercover for the FBI. I may not believe his account, but I think he won in the end. The guy is in his mid-70s, lives in a multi-million-dollar island home, and makes a pre-school teacher's annual salary every time he takes the stage. He made it! And besides his alleged victims, no one seems to question his success. He fooled us all. And he would have gotten away with too, if it weren't for this meddling kid and his scrappy friend from Belfast. (The Irish guy is Alan Logan, the author of The Greatest Hoax on Earth.) We're on a mission to set the record straight. So that when you ask someone if they know who Frank Abagnale is, Instead of it being based on a true story, they'll tell you that he made it all up. Abagnale may have been on the run for the last 50 to 40 years, getting away with his biggest lie. But guess what? We caught him. Listen to part 6 of The Real Catch Me If You Can, then send me a voice memo with your thoughts on this series. Your audio could make it on the show. Email me at javier@pretendradio.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I confronted Frank Abagnale in Las Vegas, NV. He claims he posed as a pilot, a lawyer, a doctor, and a professor from the age of sixteen to twenty-one years old. But how is that possible if he was sitting in prison most of that time? You won't believe his response. _______ Watch the Abagnale saga unfold: YouTube - search for Pretend Podcast TikTok - @pretendpod Instagram - @pretendpod ______ Support PRETEND Podcast on Patreon: -Get early access to episodes -Bonus content -Stickers and t-shirts! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
We've spent the last three episodes debunking the infamous Frank Abagnale myth. If he wasn't posing as a doctor, a lawyer, a professor, then what the heck as Frank Abagnale up to? This is the story Abagnale never talks about. _______ Part 5 will be available soon on Patreon. https://pretendradio.org/donate/ _______ Fact-checking for this episode by Kate Gallagher. Special thanks to Alan Logan, author of The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173619741X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_5EAWP7S0XC5J1WJQF2D5 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Two reporters destroy Frank Abagnale's story. Yet nobody cared.  _______ Listen to part 4 right now on Patreon: https://pretendradio.org/donate/ Special Thanks to: Fact-checking for this episode by Kate Gallagher. Special thanks to Alan Logan, author of The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173619741X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_5EAWP7S0XC5J1WJQF2D5 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Frank Abagnale claims he never stole money from the little guy—it was all victimless crimes. But that's not what I found. Hear the story of one family who says they were robbed blind by Abagnale. _______ Fact-checking for this episode by Kate Gallagher. Special thanks to Alan Logan, author of The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173619741X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_5EAWP7S0XC5J1WJQF2D5 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This might be my favorite PRETEND series of all time.  Remember the movie Catch Me If You Can? Most people believe the film is based on a true story. But, did you know it's mostly made up? I spent the last few weeks and months pouring over court records, police reports, and other documents to prove that Frank Abagnale faked his entire life story. It turns out that the real story behind Catch Me If You Can is actually a lot more fascinating than the one you thought you knew. _______ Fact-checking for this episode by Kate Gallagher. Special thanks to Alan Logan, author of The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173619741X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_5EAWP7S0XC5J1WJQF2D5 _______ Jordan Harbinger Search for The Jordan Harbinger Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What if I told you that 90% of Frank Abagnale's claims are totally made up? Yeah, that's right. The most extraordinary con man in the world never actually did the crimes he claims he did. In the new season of PRETEND, host Javier Leiva debunks Frank Abagnale’s claims one by one, not with opinions but with court and prison records. This series also gives voice to new victim testimonies. In the end, Leiva travels to Las Vegas to confront Abagnale about his lies. This is the real-life Catch Me If You Can. Listen to part 1 now on Apple Podcast and Spotify. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Fred Brito posed as a priest in order to hide from law enforcement. Find out how he ALMOST got away with it. __________ Follow PRETEND on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. __________ True Crime Podcast Festival 2022 in Dallas, TX We’re excited to announce that Criminal Conduct is going to be attending the True Crime Podcast Festival on August 26-28th in Dallas, Texas. The Festival is specially designed around your desire to mingle, interact, and have casual conversations with the podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be panel discussions and live episodes you can’t hear anywhere else! Go to the website Truecrimepodcastfestival.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. I’ll see you at the True Crime Podcast Festival! __________ Listen to a preview for the Stolen Lives Podcast at the end of the episode: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Fred Brito worked as a psychiatrist, priest, and a Red Cross fundraiser—but it was all based on lies. ______________ Follow PRETEND on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. ______________ True Crime Podcast Festival 2022 in Dallas, TX We’re excited to announce that Criminal Conduct is going to be attending the True Crime Podcast Festival on August 26-28th in Dallas, Texas. The Festival is specially designed around your desire to mingle, interact, and have casual conversations with the podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be panel discussions and live episodes you can’t hear anywhere else! Go to the website Truecrimepodcastfestival.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. I’ll see you at the True Crime Podcast Festival! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Sperm Donor

The Sperm Donor

2022-05-2433:192

David Berry took an at-home DNA test and discovered dozens of half-siblings. Was this a coincidence or the scheme of one sperm donor? ______________ True Crime Podcast Festival 2022 in Dallas, TX We’re excited to announce that Criminal Conduct is going to be attending the True Crime Podcast Festival on August 26-28th in Dallas, Texas. The Festival is specially designed around your desire to mingle, interact, and have casual conversations with the podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be panel discussions and live episodes you can’t hear anywhere else! Go to the website Truecrimepodcastfestival.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. I’ll see you at the True Crime Podcast Festival! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Dadbot

The Dadbot

2022-05-1041:231

Does death start when your heart stops beating? What if technology can extend our lives and gives us immortality? Today's episode is about one son who turned his dying father into a chatbot. Here After AI https://www.hereafter.ai/ Replika https://replika.com/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Deepfake

The Deepfake

2022-04-1917:461

Today, we're talking about deepfakes. Deepfakes are video or audio of a person in which their face, body, and/or voice has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else. And we're not just talking about some harmless Snapchat filters. This tech can start wars and destroy lives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Luxxury rips apart your favorite songs.  Check out his TikTok feed for more videos on interpolation. https://www.tiktok.com/@luxxuryxx/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Season 2 of PRETEND, I covered the story of a serial killer who murdered at least five American ex-pats. Three years after the story aired, I received a message from a listener who said she could put me in touch with the killer. I decided to turn my interviews with Wild Bill into an entire season of CRIMINAL CONDUCT. Listen to part 1 of Criminal Conduct season 3 then subscribe to listen to the rest: https://linktr.ee/criminalconduct Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Rebekah Sebastian and Javier Leiva visit businesses run by cults. Also, what happens when a cult leader dies or goes to prison? Can the cult go on without its leader? Find out which cults are trying to continue the organization without any clear leadership. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Cults are businesses too. Like any company, cults recruit, have middle management, and some even have succession plans.  Many of these religious sects are tax-exempt. Like Scientology, even some fringe religions are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.  Not all cults are religious. At first glance, some cults don't seem culty at all. For example, take a closer look at businesses such as multi-level marketing companies. These companies are masquerading as a business, but in reality, they're run by narcissistic ego-maniacs.  The Cult Startup  Like businesses, cults go through different phases. First, there's a startup phase where an entrepreneurial cult leader leads a movement and brings new innovative and revolutionary ideas. Take, for example, Jim Jones, leader of the People's Temple. In the beginning, he integrated his congregation during the Civil Rights Movement. After that, he was heavily involved in politics and social activism. The allure was undeniable. But in the end, Jones ordered 909 commune members to end their lives.   The Cult Franchise Then, there comes the point where the cult needs to expand its Business and influence. Take, for example, The Twelve Tribes religious sect. This organization, widely considered a cult, operates several businesses worldwide. I visited one of their Yellow Deli restaurants for the second installment of this series.  The Cult Exit Strategy If you're not evolving, you're dying. And sometimes, literally dying. So, what happens when a cult becomes too big to fail? Some morally bankrupt cult leaders resort to mass suicide. Other cults grow so big and fast that they become worldwide institutional organizations.  The Business of Cults  The Business of Cults is a three-part series hosted by Rebekah Sebastian with the DIELAOGUE Podcast and Javier Leiva of PRETEND podcast.  Part one focuses on The C Suite: Chief Cult Executives. Part two features an interview with former NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson. And Part three explores the question, can a cult survive without its leader? Listen to part two now on Patreon. Buy the t-shirt for this week's episode. Collage art by @kelletteworks https://pretend-radio-3.creator-spring.com/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Cults are businesses too. Like any company, cults recruit, have middle management, and some even have succession plans.  Many of these religious sects are tax-exempt. Like Scientology, even some fringe religions are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.  Not all cults are religious. At first glance, some cults don't seem culty at all. For example, take a closer look at businesses such as multi-level marketing companies. These companies are masquerading as a business, but in reality, they're run by narcissistic ego-maniacs.  The Cult Startup  Like businesses, cults go through different phases. First, there's a startup phase where an entrepreneurial cult leader leads a movement and brings new innovative and revolutionary ideas. Take, for example, Jim Jones, leader of the People's Temple. In the beginning, he integrated his congregation during the Civil Rights Movement. After that, he was heavily involved in politics and social activism. The allure was undeniable. But in the end, Jones ordered 909 commune members to end their lives.   The Cult Franchise Then, there comes the point where the cult needs to expand its Business and influence. Take, for example, The Twelve Tribes religious sect. This organization, widely considered a cult, operates several businesses worldwide. I visited one of their Yellow Deli restaurants for the second installment of this series.  The Cult Exit Strategy If you're not evolving, you're dying. And sometimes, literally dying. So, what happens when a cult becomes too big to fail? Some morally bankrupt cult leaders resort to mass suicide. Other cults grow so big and fast that they become worldwide institutional organizations.  The Business of Cults  The Business of Cults is a three-part series hosted by Rebekah Sebastian with the DIELAOGUE Podcast and Javier Leiva of PRETEND podcast.  Part one focuses on The C Suite: Chief Cult Executives. Part two features an interview with former NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson. And Part three explores the question, can a cult survive without its leader? Listen to part two now on Patreon. Buy the t-shirt for this week's episode. Collage art by @kelletteworks https://pretend-radio-3.creator-spring.com/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
I'm working on a new series on cults that's really exciting. While you wait, here's a fun little bonus episode for you. Moxie LaBouche, host of the Your Brain on Facts podcast, and I talk about our favorite scams. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The KGB Agent

The KGB Agent

2022-01-1144:234

In this podcast episode A conversation with Jack Barsky, a former KGB spy. For 10 years, Jack Barsky was a sleeper agent spying for the Soviet Union. His job was to obtain secret or confidential information from inside the United States any way he could. The KGB Spy Jack Barsky spied on the United States from 1978 to 1988. And that entire time, his primary mission was to become an American. And that's precisely what he did. He moved to New York City, got a job as a computer programmer, and lived an unremarkable life. He made friends and other relationships while being Moscow's eyes and ears. But his clandestine mission as a sleeper agent was bound to end. "The KGB, for some reason, got spooked and thought my cover was blown," said Barsky. The message was clear. Jack Barsky was exposed and needed to return to Moscow. Double agent Jack Barsky's birth name is Albrecht Dittrich. When he first joined the KGB, he didn't see himself as a spy. Instead, he and other recruits thought of themselves as scouts for peace. The spies are the enemies of the West. The KGB spy living the American Dream Jack Barsky never intended for his story to get out. So for 10 years, Barsky assumed the identity of a dead child. He took the boy's name, birth certificate, and social security number. The mission was to infiltrate, extract secrets and get out. But eventually, his years as a sleeper agent were exposed to the world. Hear the true story of this KGB's spy career came to an end. Special Thanks to Kellette Elliott for the custom collage artwork. Purchase a t-shirt with this episode's artwork here. Story idea? If you have a story to share, email Javier at info [at] pretendradio [dot] org. For more episodes like this, visit pretendradio.org. To get early releases and bonus episodes, go to pretendradio.org/donate Today's episode was written and edited by Javier Leiva Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Comments (64)

🤨

this guy is so disgusting. someone should end him.

Aug 31st
Reply

Staci BAMS

Nice cliffhanger Javier 👍

Aug 16th
Reply

🤨

george floyd is not innocent. let's get that right.

Aug 5th
Reply (1)

bob caygeon

Theres two foreign nationals that pretended to be federal agents in DC, living and partying among real Secret Service and ICE agents. It would make a good story as their true motives have not been disclosed.

Jul 21st
Reply

bob caygeon

Abagnale claims his son is an FBI agent, which is probably BS as well. It's sad that he gets paid as a regular contributor to a podcast devoted to senior citizen fraud.

Jul 16th
Reply

Staci BAMS

I don't think the audio sounds like Reagan at all, at least on the podcast.

Apr 25th
Reply

PJ

I loved this!

Apr 6th
Reply

Margaret Nixon

As a former member of several Evangelical Churches in Texas what you found in your Season 3 research does not seem implausible. I've met so many maladjusted pastors who twist the Scripture for their own purposes. They will not report criminal activity regardless of the pain that it causes others. I applaud you for your tenacity. Remember Waco. People are often lead astray because they are looking for someone to solve their own problems. It's easier than taking responsibility for own individual situations. I still believe in God and trust in Jesus, but will not allow anyone to dictate my beliefs. I've also found that the legal system is also not as "legal" as the public would often think. We are not as free as we think.

Mar 20th
Reply

Cristina Corales

This reminded me of when I lived in a tiny Mexican town 25 years ago. It didn’t rain much there so the priest used to assemble the people to walk along the Main Street chanting and praying for rain. It always happened that the very next day there would be rain. How did he do it? Turns out he was the only person in the village with a radio so he listened to the weather forecast!

Jan 29th
Reply

Megan

Why is it considered rational and "skeptical" to believe this crap dogma about babies and memory, and then say that science supports this crap? It is authoritative Scientism at best. We have believed all kinds of horrible stupid crap about babies. The authoritative Scientism crap that babies do not fully experience pain or fear, for example, and are just barely sentient and probably barely human so it's okay to do cruel things to them. Our species is more beholden to neuroplasticity, and our hypocampus is quite malleable through life experiences, so the Scientism dogma crap that says that babies cannot remember anything because "their hypocampus "is not developed"" is bizarro. Because our hypocampus is always developing and reshaping. Memories and experiences make it develop and reshape.

Nov 11th
Reply

Cristina Corales

So you’re tired of shopping and eating? Let’s try being vampires! You guys are weird and we are laughing at you

Oct 29th
Reply

Cristina Corales

What a load of BS. Only in USA!

Oct 29th
Reply

🤨

Have these people thought, maybe ... they just need iron or some micro-nutrients??

Oct 29th
Reply

BananaPuddinCup

What a gate keeper....

Oct 26th
Reply

Cherye Baker

pono

Sep 17th
Reply

🤨

The money was serialized. You can't use it to buy any big items.

Jul 7th
Reply

Laurie

I love the first episodes about this and I’m back 👍

Apr 7th
Reply

Laurie

Got the referral from framed. Starting to listen, I know nothing of this. F/42/Canada educated but I must have missed this. Thanks for the podcast. I am starting at the beginning of the story. I love how you talk. Off finishing the season 👍🇨🇦❤️

Apr 7th
Reply

Alexa Nebula

I great episode. Just curious, but aren't polygraph result not admissible in a court of law? So uh, how tf was he 'obstructing justice' exactly? Let him teach people how to beat the polygraph, who tf cares. It shouldn't be used as a basis for any kind of measurement and that has been scientifically proven. I don't understand why what he was doing was considered illegal.

Apr 3rd
Reply

Dianna P

Cool idea for a podcast episode topic, but it's hard for me to take the guest seriously because of how off the wall he is. 😋

Mar 19th
Reply
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