The movie “Catch Me If You Can” was based on the true story of a man who lived life big as a scam artist successfully posing as a pilot, lawyer, and doctor.
In an example of life imitating art imitating life, a 33 year-old homeless man by the name of Rafal Bogun was busted last week for doing something similar to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the entertaining flick.
NY Daily News reports that Rafal had a temp job at a law firm that dealt with workman’s comp cases. With easy access to records for hundreds of clients, he used the personal data to steal the identities of at least 20 people.
For over a year, he used the identities to open up new credit cards, make purchases and book hotel rooms all around New York. While at the hotels, he’d buy more things online using the hotels’ computers and apply for even more credit cards.
He was slick enough to get away with it for over a year, and even though victims had reported their identities stolen it was tough for authorities to find Rafal.
He was seen on tape in January, stopping by a Walmart to claim some items he’d purchased with one of the credit cards. A few months later he checked into a hotel using fake identification.
I’d think that if you were going to steal an identity and go to the trouble of opening up a credit card you’d at least stay someplace a little upscale like the Waldorf Astoria in Midtown Manhattan, the Park Hyatt New York, or Mandarin Oriental New York.
Instead, his list of hotels included the Marriott Towne Place Suites in East Farmingdale Long Island and a Marriott Residence Inn in Plainview. Sounds more like he was just trying to pick somewhere warm to sleep that wasn’t too outrageously suspicious.
The NY Post says he got away with it for long in part because hotels often “give out free night stays after opening a new credit card”.
In fact, he reportedly opened a Marriott Rewards Visa credit card after his Marriott hotel stay in East Farmingdale. The credit card had a limit of $14,200 and was issued in the name of a woman in Queens.
Rafal was finally apprehended in Penn Station after reportedly trying to sell a discounted Amtrak ticket to an undercover police officer and using a fake name.
He is being charged with identity theft, criminal possession of a forged instrument and fraud. That doesn’t even include the charges for the Amtrak ticket scam and he is being held on $100,000 bail.
If Rafal was worried about being homeless, I don’t think that’ll be the case now. If convicted he may end up in prison for up to 7 years.