In the process, he became one of the most famous impostors ever, claiming to have assumed no fewer than eight separate identities as an airline pilot, a doctor, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer. He escaped from police custody twice (once from a taxiing airliner and once from a U.S. federal penitentiary), before he was 21 years old.
He served fewer than five years in prison before starting to work for the federal government. He is a consultant and lecturer at the academy and field offices for the FBI. He also runs Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company.
Abagnale’s life story provided the inspiration for the feature film Catch Me If You Can, as well as the Broadway musical with the same name, which opened in April 2011, and ghostwritten autobiography of the same name.