He’s known as “The Chameleon” in Europe. Frederic Bourdin began posing as fictitious teen boys as a teenager himself. He came from a poor, single family home and ended up in youth homes after his family couldn’t handle him any more in France. The great imposter posed as various abused teen boys all over Europe until his 30s!
His greatest and worst con was pretending to be a teen boy from Texas who’d been missing for three years. Bourdin was about to be caught when he was 23 in Spain for posing as an abused orphan. To get out of it, he found a boy missing in the U.S. that roughly matched his description and called the authorities to say Nicholas, the boy, had been found in Europe. Nicholas’ half sister flew to Spain to identify him.
Bourdin dyed his hair to match Nicholas’, but had brown eyes when Nicholas had blue eyes. The family wanted him to be Nicholas, though. They vouched for him and swore he was their lost child who’d been missing for three years. Bourdin made an elaborate story explaining that his kidnappers had injected chemicals in his eyes that changed them brown.
He also said his French accent was from living in Europe for so long and not being allowed to speak English by his captors. Eventually a private investigator began to look into the situation and the FBI did, too. Initially they thought he was a spy or a terrorist posing as the boy to gain access to the U.S. Eventually it came out who he was and he was sentenced to six years in prison for falsifying documents and perjury.
A movie called “The Chameleon” came out in 2010 based on the story. Famke Janssen starred as the officer investigating Bourdin in the film.