Famous fraudster claims ID cards help criminals

Frank Abagnale, a one-time fraudster who now works with law-enforcement agencies, said national ID card schemes make it "100 times easier" to steal personal information.

Frank Abagnale, a one-time fraudster who now works with law-enforcement agencies, said national ID card schemes make it "100 times easier" to steal personal information.

Speaking at the RSA Conference Europe 2007, Abagnale said that one weak link in an organisation can compromise the whole system.

I'm not big on ID cards.

Frank Abagnale

"With the ID cards scheme, all it takes is one weak civil servant to be bought off, and one weak link can [compromise the system]," said Abagnale. "I'm not big on ID cards -- you're giving the government information that someone else can access. ID cards make it 100 times easier to steal that information, because it's concentrated in one place.

"Nothing is really secure; if the money is right, you can forge a passport to back fraudulent activities -- you can forge ID cards. You can replicate holograms, dyes in paper, and give terrorists access to Britain."

Frank Abagnale RSA Conference Europe 2007

ID cards make it 100 times easier to steal that information, because it's concentrated in one place.

Abagnale's views back up research published earlier this month by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which found that the proposed Access Card is unlikely to significantly reduce Centrelink fraud.

In Abagnale's keynote, he told the audience of security professionals about his experiences of being on the wrong side of the law, depicted in the 2003 film Catch Me If You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale and Tom Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty.

Silicon.com's Gemma Simpson and ZDNet Australia's Jo Best contributed to this article.

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