The Current: Top Imposters Through History

The sensational story of Christian Gerhartsreiter - better known as Clark Rockefeller - may be rare, but his may not take the prize for the greatest con. Here are a few other famous cases ...

  1. 1938: In the 1920's Archibald Belaney of the UK passed himself off as a First Nations conservationist, giving lectures around the world and publishing best-selling books under the name Grey Owl. The National Film Board featured him in this 1929 documentary.
  2. Despite his deception, his legacy of conservation continues. Was it worth the con?
  3. 1951: He was known as an engineer, a prison warden, the dean of a university and even a surgeon but the best description of Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Jr. may come from a movie title. In 1960, his spectacular string of cons was featured in a movie called "The Great Imposter" staring Tony Curtis.
  4. Demara was caught after he posed as a ship's doctor aboard a Royal Canadian Navy Destroyer during the Korean War. He saved many lives - without any medical training - and his fame revealed a string of assumed identities. Many years later, it even landed him on this list of "Great Canadian Liars"
  5. 1967: He posed as a pilot, doctor, and attorney before getting caught forging cheques worth over two million dollars. Frank William Abagnale, Jr. is now a successful consultant and world expert on forgery. His story was the subject of the 2002 move "Catch Me If You Can."
  6. Catch Me If You Can Trailer
  7. 1983: While truth may be stranger than fiction, stories of imposters often make great entertainment. Such is the case with David Hampton. He scammed wealthy New Yorkers out of thousands by claiming to be Sidney Poitier's son and climbing the social ladder. When he died in 2003, The New York Times Headline read: "He Conned the Society Crowd but Died Alone."
  8. Hampton also inspired the play, movie and common phrase, "Six Degrees of Separation."
  9. Six Degrees of Separation 2011 HD Trailer
  10. 1997: Perhaps one of the most chilling cases of an impostor is Frederic Bourdin, also known as the "chameleon." When a Texas family discovered their 16 year old run-away son had been found in Spain, they promptly flew across the ocean to find him and bring him home. He was given an American passport and splashed across national news. It wasn't long before they discovered he was in fact a 23 year old Algerian-French man who was wanted by Interpol.
  11. A recent documentary about him has garnered critical acclaim.
  12. The Imposter - Official Trailer 2012 [HD]
  13. Frederic Bourdin now lives in France with his wife and children.
  14. 2013: Christian Gerhartsreiter' story has also been fictionalized on the silver screen.
  15. But is the truth stranger than fiction?
  16. Clark Rockefeller. Television Jail Interview. 2008.
  17. It has taken 28 years for this case to be closed.
  18. 'Clark Rockefeller' guilty of killing John Sohus in 1985
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