By the age of three, he said, he could read, write and speak fluently in three languages.
Encouraged by his mother, “a renowned professor of child and adolescent psychology in the UK”, he had, he told one journalist, entered Princeton University at 13, before becoming “the youngest registered psychologist in the history of the American Psychological Association”.
And at the age of 32, Mikhy K Farrera-Brochez “APA, APS, MCollT, MS DPSY, DipED” was convicted of being a lying fantasist who forged educational qualifications and used his boyfriend’s blood for an HIV test so he could hide the fact he had the virus and work in Singapore.
As Mr Farrera-Brochez was sentenced by a Singapore court to 28 months in jail on Wednesday, after admitting six offences including lying to a public servant, possessing drugs and using forged educational certificates, it was hard to say which was the more bizarre: the “child prodigy” tale he told to impress or the real things he did to get convicted.
As told to a Singapore newspaper in 2010, the story of his life involved being able to read, write and speak fluent Hebrew, Spanish and English by the age of three.
“I didn’t know I was a gifted child initially,” Mr Farrera-Brochez told a reporter.
He also said he had been a successful “laboratory rat” of his mother “a renowned professor of child and adolescent psychology, child neurology and gifted science and mathematics education in the UK”, who had tried out “many of her theories on gifted education” on him.
How much, if any of it was true is unclear. Attempts to trace the “renowned professor of child and adolescent psychology” drew a blank, with the British Psychological Society telling The Independent that its register contained no psychologists affiliated to any academic institution under the mother’s name given by Mr Farrera-Brochez.
The bewildered husband of the one UK-registered psychologist who qualified under the name given by Mr Farrera-Brochez confirmed to The Independent that the man convicted in Singapore was not her son, and that she did not specialise in any of the relevant areas.
If Mr Farrera-Brochez’s mother is a “renowned professor”, she may be a very elusive “renowned professor”. The Independent could not immediately find any psychologist, anywhere in the world, with the name given by Mr Farrera-Brochez who specialised in child and adolescent psychology, child neurology, or gifted science and mathematics education.
As for Mr Farrera-Brochez’s own academic brilliance, reports of his conviction have stated that his various educational certificates, including one supposed to be from the Sorbonne in Paris, were forged.
But, that 2010 report suggested, having turned up in Singapore in 2008, Mr Farrera-Brochez was able to secure a job at a local polytechnic, lecturing in early childhood studies and psychology studies.
That he was able to work in Singapore at all was because of his success in using his boyfriend’s blood to cover up his HIV status.
Singapore has banned foreigners with HIV from working in its territory. To get round this, Mr Farrera-Brochez enlisted the help of his boyfriend, a locum GP whom he had met online.
Shortly after arriving in Singapore in 2008, he visited a clinic where his boyfriend was on duty. His boyfriend had earlier taken some blood from his own arm. The boyfriend is said to have put his blood in a test tube and labelled it with Mr Farrera-Brochez’s details.
The test tube with the boyfriend’s blood came back negative for HIV and Mr Farrera-Brochez duly got his employment pass from Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
The trick worked so well that Mr Farrera-Brochez used it again to get a personalised employment pass in 2013.
“The fact that the blood test was supposedly performed by a doctor and issued by a clinic gave it an aura of authority, making it virtually certain that MOM would be deceived,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra. “His conduct evinces a blatant disregard for the authority of our laws.”
Mr Farrera-Brochez succeeded in keeping up the pretence until the middle of 2016. Precisely how he was caught has not been disclosed, but it is possible he fell foul of Singapore’s strict anti-drugs laws.
One of the charges for which he was convicted was the possession, in May 2016, of Ketamine and cannabis.
A month later, in June 2016, he was charged with not just the drugs offences, but also in relation to forging his educational certificates and faking the HIV tests.
His boyfriend is awaiting court proceedings on charges relating to his alleged role.