Autistic Teen 'Tycoon' Dupes Airline Industry

Fakes out nearly everyone with plan to launch discount airline
By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2009 4:50 AM CDT
Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Frank Abagnale Jr. in the film "Catch Me If You Can." Abagnale convinced an airline he was a pilot while still a teenager.   (,0.jpg)

(Newser) – Posing as a young airline tycoon with a fleet of jets, a 17-year-old British boy convinced airport and airline officials he was about to launch a cut-rate airline able to service most of Europe, reports the Times of London. For six months, the teen appeared in industry magazines and met with airport executives under various pseudonyms. He launched his intricate scheme by buying websites in the name of American Global Group and Island Airways, then asked airlines for franchise agreements.

One magazine got curious, however, and uncovered the ruse. The teen was about to board a 93-seat jet—which his "company" wanted to lease—when police nabbed him last week. His father said the boy suffers from a form of autism that gives him an amazing memory and a creative curiosity, but also behavior problems. No charges are pending.