Frédéric Bourdin

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Frédéric Bourdin

Frédéric Bourdin (born June 13, 1974 in Nanterre ) is a French serial impostor , which the press gave the nickname "The Chameleon ".


Bourdin's mother Ghislaine met the Algerian immigrant Kaci at work, became pregnant by him and left him when she found out that Kaci was already married. So Frédéric Bourdin never got to know his father. He grew up with his grandparents in Mouchamps near Nantes when the authorities had withdrawn his mother's custody. Bourdin was later sent to a youth home near Nantes.

At the age of 16 he ran away from the youth home and hitchhiked to Paris. There he passed himself off to a police officer as the Englishman Jimmy Seale; When the police found that he spoke almost no English, he confessed to everything and went back to the youth home. But he had discovered a technique that he posed as a teenager and looked for the “perfect home” in children's homes and welfare institutions across Europe. He almost always played the role of the abused or abandoned child. He assumed 39 false identities, three of which were currently missing teenagers. He lived in more than 15 different countries, spoke five languages ​​and called himself: Jimmy Morins, Arnaud Orions, Alex Dole, Giovanni Petrullo, Michelangelo Martini, Sladjan Raskovic and Benjamin Kent.

In 1997, Bourdin assumed the identity of Nicholas Barclay, the missing son of a family from San Antonio, Texas . He invited his alleged parents to the American embassy in Spain to meet with them. Despite his brown eyes instead of blue and his French accent, he convinced the family that he was their son who had escaped from a child prostitution ring.

Bourdin then lived with the family for three months when local private detectives were able to find him with a DNA test. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

When Bourdin returned from the United States in 2003, he moved to Grenoble , France, where he took the name Leo Balley, a youth who had been missing since 1996. A DNA test revealed him again.

In August 2004, he posed as the youth Ruben Sanchez Espinoza in Spain and claimed that his mother was killed in the bombing of March 11, 2004 in Madrid. The police found out the truth and sent him back to France.

In 2007, Bourdin married a French woman whom he met on a television show where both of them spoke about their experiences as a victim of abuse. For him it was the first relationship. The couple had four children and now live near Pau in France.


In 2009 Jean-Paul Salomé directed the film Le Caméléon about Bourdin's stay in the USA. The multi-award-winning documentary Der Blender - The Imposter followed in 2012 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Usurpation d'identité. Frédéric Bourdin, le “caméléon” français