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Page 3 Profile: Frederic Bourdin, serial imposter


The human chameleon?

Exactly right. Born in Paris to a French mother and Algerian father, Bourdin was a runaway who used different identities to escape life in juvenile homes. He gained notoriety, and became known to police as the Chameleon.

His most famous disguise came in 1997, three years after the disappearance of 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay in Texas. Although he had darker skin, different coloured eyes and a French accent, the missing boy's parents believed Bourdin's story and flew him to their family home. A private detective wasn't so convinced, and in 1998 Bourdin was sentenced to six years in prison. He was later deported back to France.

Sounds like the plot of a film

Quite. British director Bart Layton created The Imposter, which garnered praise at the Sundance Festival and has been given a host of five-star reviews ahead of its release in cinemas tomorrow. But Bourdin isn't happy, and launched into a rant on Twitter.

"They are magnifying my life and actions. Why won't they leave me alone," he said, dismissing the film as "British sensationalism" and those involved as "British scums". He alleges the film portrayed him as a "cold snake", when in fact he only impersonated people to become part of a loving family.

What does the director say?

He is a little nonplussed, as Bourdin hasn't actually seen the film. "If he'd seen the film and felt it was inaccurate or had twisted his words I'd listen to those accusations," said Layton. "I don't know what he's so furious about. Many viewers don't believe he comes across that badly." The filmmaker went on to describe Bourdin as a "compelling" but "disquieting" man who "would have been a brilliant actor" had he used his unique skills differently.

Are Bourdin's days in disguise over?

He claims they are. It would certainly be incredibly difficult for the 38-year-old to once again attempt to impersonate a teenager.

He has his own family now. He met his wife Isabelle in 2006, and they married a year later. They live with their three children near Le Mans in the Loire Valley.