Abagnale, Obama, and Te’O

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by Paul R. Hollrah, ©2013

Frank Abagnale used false identities and escaped from law enforcement twice before turning 21. After serving a prison sentence, he was hired by the federal government.

 (Feb. 2, 2013) — In the 1960s and 1970s, a young man named Frank Abagnale embarked on a career as a master imposter.  Abagnale began his storied career by opening checking accounts in numerous banks and writing checks on his overdrawn accounts.  When that scam ran its course he learned how to print nearly perfect checks, deposit them, and draw money on the fraudulent deposits.  He also learned how to print bogus bank deposit slips containing his own account number.  After mixing his bogus deposit slips in with the bank’s real deposit slips, the bank customers unlucky enough to use one of them found their deposits disappear mysteriously into Abagnale’s account.

At age 16, Abagnale forged a PanAm employee ID card.   Using the fake ID and telling the airline that he’d lost his uniform, he was able to acquire a PanAm pilots uniform.  Then, between the ages of 16 and 18, using his fake ID, a forged FAA pilot’s license, and his purloined PanAm uniform, he “deadheaded” on PanAm flights all over the world.  According to PanAm’s best estimates, Abagnale flew more than a million miles, on more than 250 flights, to 26 countries.  While posing as a PanAm pilot, he stayed and ate at some of the world’s finest hotels, all of which was charged directly to PanAm.

Following his “career” as a PanAm pilot, Abagnale worked as chief resident pediatrician at a Georgia hospital.  After forming a friendship with a real doctor who lived in Abagnale’s apartment complex, he convinced his doctor friend that he was a pediatrician and agreed to fill in as supervisor of pediatric residents until the hospital could recruit a full time supervisor.

During the years that Abagnale masqueraded as a PanAm pilot, he was able to forge a Harvard Law School transcript… joining Barack Obama in proving once again that a Harvard law degree is worth about as much as the paper it’s printed on.  He studied for the Louisiana bar exam, failed it twice, but passed it on his third attempt.  Then, at the age of 19, he was hired as an attorney in the office of the Louisiana Attorney General.

Abagnale’s incredible story of personal deception was told in his autobiography, titled Catch Me if You Can, later turned into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

In more recent times, American sports fans have been captivated by a major hoax involving Notre Dame University’s famed linebacker, Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o.

As the No. 1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish fought their way toward the 2013 BCS championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, anticipating their first national championship since 1988, a major part of the hype and the drama was the tragedy surrounding linebacker Manti Te’o and the untimely death of his beautiful young girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, and his beloved grandmother… both of whom reportedly died of cancer on the same day.  It was a heart-wrenching tale of victory and tragedy intertwined.

According to the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune, Manti and Lennay met after a November 2009 football game between Stanford and Notre Dame in Palo Alto, California.  The Tribune reports that “Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes, and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago.”

However, all of the hype and spin… obviously designed to give Notre Dame a public relations edge and Te’o, personally, a leg up on the Heisman Trophy and a boost in the upcoming NFL draft… came tumbling down on Wednesday, January 16.  According to a CNN story, “A sports website called Deadspin published a piece dismissing as a hoax the existence of (Manti) Te’o's girlfriend – the one who he said died around the same time as his grandmother while his team marched toward the BCS National Championship Game.”

The university held a news conference saying Te’o was the “victim of an ‘elaborate hoax.’ ”  Te’o released a statement saying he was embarrassed and that he was the victim of a “sick joke.”

Victim of a sick joke?  Te’o's father, Brian, was quoted in the Deadspin article as saying: “They started out as just friends.  Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there.  But within the last year, they became a couple.”

Many skeptics are now openly doubting Te’o’s insistence that he is the innocent victim of a hoax.  For example, why did he tell reporters in a pre-Heisman Trophy presentation interview on December 8 that he “lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer,” when just two days earlier the woman he thought was dead called him on his cellphone?

Why did he tell a Sports Illustrated reporter in October that Kekua came to one of his games, but later insist that he never met her?  And if he knew that Lennay Kekua didn’t exist… which he clearly had to… why did he continue to give numerous interviews in which he described in great detail the deep and abiding love they shared?

Officials of Notre Dame are quite anxious to absolve themselves of any blame in creating a hoax that could only have two beneficiaries: Notre Dame University and Manti Te’o.  Notre Dame benefitted from a sympathy factor just weeks before the biggest game in 25 years.  While Te’o benefited by increasing his stock as a Heisman Trophy finalist and as a top prospect in the NFL draft.  If Hollywood should ever decide to make a movie based on Manti Te’o’s imaginary love affair, they might title it, “Figure Me Out, if You Can.”

Then, of course, we have the greatest imposter of all time, Barack Hussein Obama, who has succeeded in hoaxing his way into two terms as president of the United States.

As Obama begins his second term in the White House he has apparently convinced almost every Democrat in the country that he is, in fact, eligible to serve as president, in spite of the fact that he was born with British citizenship and currently holds Kenyan citizenship.  Democrats believe that these facts should not disqualify him, while frightened Republican leaders fail to act against him for fear that they be branded as something worse than a child molester… a “birther.”

Within hours after being sworn in as president of the United States on January 20, 2009, Obama signed Executive Order 13489, sealing from public inspection the most critical evidence of who he actually is.  The documents sealed from view by historians, the media, and the people, include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • His official long form birth certificate,
  • His U.S. and Indonesian passport records,
  • His Indonesian adoption records,
  • His Punahou (Honolulu) school records,
  • His Occidental College records,
  • His Columbia University records,
  • His Harvard Law School records.
  • His College theses,
  • His Harvard Law Review articles,
  • His medical records,
  • His Illinois State Senate papers,
  • His Illinois Bar Association records.

The birth certificate that Obama posted on the White House website on April 27, 2011 has been examined by some of the top forensic experts in the country and has been found to be a rather poor forgery.  Lord Monckton, a recognized authority on probability theory, has found that the chances that Obama’s birth certificate is authentic are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 75 quadrillion… roughly equal to the chances of winning the Powerball lottery, and being struck by lightning, on the very same day.

The Social Security number that Obama has used for many years produces a “no match” when submitted to the Social Security Administration’s E-Verify test… the same test that prospective employers use to verify that prospective employees are legal residents of the U.S.  The Social Security number that Obama uses was reserved for use by a resident of Connecticut… where Obama has never resided… and was first issued to a person unknown between 1977 and 1979.

Of the three greatest imposters/hoaxsters of modern times, Barack Obama is by far the greatest of all.  Abagnale, who began his career at age 16, was obviously a master of deceit.  Te’o, who appears to have been a willing participant in a massive hoax, is a young man who appears to have gotten himself in way over his head.  But for a man to undertake to convince at least half the American people, supposedly the best-informed people on the face of the Earth, that he is eligible to serve as president of the United States is a feat of breathtaking chutzpa.

I thought it would be most appropriate to publish this column on April 1st, April Fools Day, but then it occurred to me that, where Barack Obama is concerned, every day is April Fools Day.  When it comes time to make a movie of Obama’s life, they couldn’t do better than to borrow the title of the 2005 reality TV show, Who’s Your Daddy?



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