When con man Neal Caffrey breaks out of a maximum-security prison, the FBI calls the man who put him there in the first place, agent Peter Burke. Peter knows that Neal escaped to find Kate, the love of his life. However, when Peter arrives at Kate's apartment in Manhattan, he finds the con man alone. Neal was too late; Kate is gone.
Faced with another four years in prison, Neal offers to help Peter catch "the Dutchman," an elusive counterfeiter Peter has been chasing for years. There is just one small catch; in exchange for his expertise, Neal wants his freedom. Peter accepts, on the conditions that Neal wears a tracking anklet and that he forgets about Kate.
Neal agrees to Peter's terms, but he quickly befriends well-to-do widow June and trades in his FBI provided motel-room for her palatial Manhattan mansion. June also outfits Neal with a closet full of her late husband's designer suits. Neal is definitely living the good life, much to Peter's chagrin.
Peter can't deny that he and the con man make a good team. After the FBI seizes a shipment of antique books headed for the Dutchman, Neal and Peter realize the counterfeiter is using antique paper from the books to forge hundreds of rare 1944 Spanish Victory bonds. With most of the real bonds rumored to have been lost forever, the Dutchman would stand to make millions. Neal's expertise pays off when his shadowy contact Mozzie helps them identify the Dutchman as Curtis Hagen, a talented art restorer who's own work never took off.
Neal and Peter pay Hagen a visit but the savvy forger recognizes Neal and books a flight out of the country in a week's time. Another tip leads the duo to Hagen's waterfront warehouse but they still need a warrant to take him down.
Meanwhile, try as he might, Neal can't stop thinking about Kate. Mozzie is able to dig up information on her whereabouts, but it's not enough. And with only seven days until Hagen escapes, Neal must find a way to link the forger to the bonds, or he'll wind up back behind bars, losing Kate for good.