The unlikely partnership between charming con artist Neal Caffrey and straightman FBI agent Peter Burke. Caffrey provides his expertise to help Burke catch other elusive criminals in exchange for his freedom, and together they prove that to solve the hard
Neal Caffrey, a successful con man, is about to finish a four-year prison sentence after being convicted of bond forgery, when he stages an elaborate prison break. FBI Special Agent Peter Burke, the man who captured Neal four years earlier, is the first to be notified with the news. He immediately abandons his current case, a forger known as "the Dutchman", to search for Neal. His intuition tells him that Neal had escaped to search for his girlfriend, Kate Moreau. Peter follows Neal to Kate's Manhattan apartment, where he confronts Neal. Neal explains that Kate has disappeared, leaving behind only an empty Bordeaux wine bottle, signifying their relationship is over. Peter takes Neal back into custody, but not before Neal gives Peter a valuable tip regarding the Dutchman: paper fiber Peter had found earlier had come from new Canadian currency. In return, Neal asks for a meeting with Peter to discuss his future.
A week passes while Peter confirms the origin of the fiber, which are found to be from Canadian currency. Peter meets with Neal in prison, and Neal offers his expertise on Peter's case in exchange for his release from prison. Peter reluctantly accepts, on the condition that Neal abandons his search for Kate and wears a tracking anklet. Peter also warns Neal that if he runs, or if the Dutchman is not found, Neal will be sent back to prison with no further possibility of release.
After his release, Neal learns the FBI will only pay for a cheap apartment. Instead of accepting this, Neal heads for a local thrift shop, where he meets June, a wealthy elderly widow. Charmed by Neal and his knowledge of her late husband Byron's Sy Devore suits, June soon offers Neal a loft in her mansion and gives him access to Byron's wardrobe.
Peter later introduces Neal to his team: Diana Lancing (later renamed Diana Berrigan), a young trainee agent who Peter trusts implicitly and Clinton Jones, a Harvard graduate and loyal junior agent. The FBI quickly seizes antique books that were intended for the Dutchman. The unlikely duo realize that the Dutchman is using the paper from the books to counterfeit 1944 Spanish Victory bonds, which could make him millions of dollars. Neal notices a nearly-microscopic signature on the fake bonds: the initials C.H.
Neal returns to June's house and finds an old friend: Mozzie (Willie Garson), who maintains deep connections in the criminal underworld. With Mozzie's help, Neal identifies the Dutchman as Curtis Hagen (guest star Mark Sheppard). Neal and Peter visit Hagen, who easily recognizes Neal. After their meeting, the FBI learns that Hagen has booked a flight out of the country, which will leave in one week. Neal and Peter know that Hagen is likely operating out of a warehouse, but fail to get a warrant or sufficient probable cause to enter it.
Neal, desperate to stay out of prison and find Kate, knows that he must find a legal way to have Hagen taken down. He takes off toward the warehouse, exiting the two-mile radius his tracking anklet allows him to stay within. Peter is alerted at the FBI headquarters that Neal has bolted. Peter believes that Neal has run off in search of Kate; however, he tracks him to Hagen's warehouse. With Neal, a convicted felon, inside the warehouse, Peter now has probable cause to enter. He does, and discovers Hagen running a massive counterfeiting operation. Hagen is taken into custody, and Peter remarks to Neal that this is the third time Neal has been caught.