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How Fraudsters Used Scotch Tape

Scotch Tape is a very useful invention: how else would we tackle the job of wrapping up our Christmas presents every year, and clean the dust off our keyboards without using a Hoover?

But this ingenious invention has a chequered history. It was once an essential piece of kit for con men, who used it to defraud their victims of millions of pounds.

Frank Abagnale was a former top fraudster, who wrote the book Catch Me If You Can about his shady past dealings (it was made into a film of the same name, starring Leonardo DiCaprio).

In another book, The Art of the Steal, Abagnale exposed how 20th century con men used Scotch Tape to remove the details from printed cheques

“They take a piece of Scotch Tape – the grey, cloudy kind that doesn’t rip the paper when you peel it off – and put it over the dollar amount and over the payee name. They use a fingernail to rub it down hard over the cheque, and then lift it off. The dollar amount and the name and address will come off on the tape.”

The cheeky trick worked because the toner on the printed cheque would attach itself to the Scotch Tape. Abagnale said that any noticeable residues of toner could be removed with a high-polymer plastic eraser.

He repented of his former lifestyle in later years and became an adviser helping banks and businesses to fight fraud and promoting the use of shredders to guard against identity theft.

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