List of impostors

Confidence trick The Holocaust Anti-war movement
Infinite Construction - STEAM
Cartoon of the would-be explorer Louis de Rougemont who claimed to have had adventures in Australasia.

An impostor (also spelled imposter) is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often through means of disguise. Their objective is usually to try to gain financial or social advantages through social engineering, but also often for purposes of espionage or law enforcement.

Notable impostors

False nationality claims

Frits Holm (1881–1930), Danish adventurer and self-styled "Duke of Colachine"

False minority national identity claims

False royal heritage claims


Wartime impostors and spies

Many women in history have presented themselves as men in order to advance in typically male-dominated fields. There are many documented cases of this in the military during the American Civil War.[13] However their purpose was rarely for fraudulent gain. They are listed in the List of wartime cross-dressers.

Spies have often pretended to be people other than they were. One of the famous was Chevalier d'Eon (1728–1810), a French diplomat who successfully infiltrated the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia by presenting as a woman.

Military impostors

Multiple impostors


See also


  1. ^ Jackson, Lauren Michele. "The Layered Deceptions of Jessica Krug, the Black-Studies Professor Who Hid That She Is White". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  2. ^ Jackson, Lauren Michele. "The Layered Deceptions of Jessica Krug, the Black-Studies Professor Who Hid That She Is White". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  3. ^ "Rachel Dolezal Admits She Was 'Biologically Born White' but Maintains That She Identifies as Black".
  4. ^ Lauren Lumpkin and Susan Svrluga (2020-09-03). "White GWU professor admits she falsely claimed Black identity". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Jaschik, Scott (6 July 2015). "Fake Cherokee? Scholar who has made name as Cherokee is accused of not having Native American roots". Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  6. ^ Mullins, Luke (May 19, 2008). "How Frank Abagnale Would Swindle You". U.S. News. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  7. ^ Noble, Kenneth B. (17 April 1996). "Doctor's Specialty Turns Out to Be Masquerade". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Shafer, Jack (12 March 2002). "Who Is "Robert Klingler"?". Slate.
  9. ^ Donelly, Beau; Toscano, Nick (22 April 2015). "The Whole Pantry author Belle Gibson admits she lied about having terminal cancer". Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  10. ^ "CNBC pundit and hedge-fund operator at heart of $4 million Ponzi scheme". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  11. ^ Griesser, Andy (2003-02-07). "Sex Under Duress: Cal. Court Upholds Rape Conviction for Ruse to Obtain Sex". ABA Journal. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  12. ^ von Lüpke, Marc (1 November 2013). "Doktor Dreist" [Doctor Brazen]. Der Spiegel (in German).
  13. ^ Shearer, Lee (14 April 2018). "Brothers in arms?: Civil War reality predates transgender debate". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  14. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (April 29, 2002). "At Fox News, The Colonel Who Wasn't". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Ehrenberg, Nicholas (November 11, 2005). "Fake War Stories Exposed". CBS News. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  16. ^ Burkett, B. G. (September 2, 1998). Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History (1st ed.). Verity Pr Inc. ISBN 096670360X.
  17. ^ John, Marshall (2004-12-07). "Ellis doesn't want to revisit his own past". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  18. ^ Ellis, Joseph (2001-08-17). "Further Statement of Joseph J. Ellis". Archived from the original on 2006-07-15. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  19. ^ "Historian 'posed as a war hero'". BBC News. 3 July 2009.
  20. ^ Brian Ross and Vic Walter (September 21, 2007). "Anti-War YouTube 'Vet' Admits He Is Faker". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
  21. ^ Seenan, Gerard (11 April 2006). "Captain Sir Alan KBE - call-centre worker". the Guardian.
  22. ^ "Micah Wright Comes Clean, Ranger Story a Hoax". CBR. 2 May 2004.
  23. ^ "Erich von Stroheim". IMDb. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  24. ^ Laura Plitt, producer, "Frederic Bourdin – the man who changed his identity 500 times," BBC News, 19 October 2012.
  25. ^ Hailey Branson-Potts (August 15, 2013). "Rockefeller impostor gets 27 years in prison; maintains innocence". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  26. ^ "'Japan's Beethoven' Samuragochi paid hearing composer to write music". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  27. ^ "'MI5' conman wins sentence appeal". BBC. 25 April 2007.
  28. ^ NPR Staff (March 26, 2012). "The Amazing, Untrue Story Of A Sept. 11 Survivor".
  29. ^ David W. Dunlap and Serge F. Kovalevski (September 27, 2007). "In a 9/11 Survival Tale, the Pieces Just Don't Fit". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2007. Tania Head's story, as shared over the years with reporters, students, friends and hundreds of visitors to ground zero, was a remarkable account of both life and death.
  30. ^ "Spanish Nazi camp 'survivor' lied". A leading representative of Holocaust survivors in Spain has admitted to being "an impostor". BBC. 12 May 2005.
  31. ^ Kovaleski, Serge F. (September 16, 2015). "Steve Rannazzisi, Comedian Who Told of 9/11 Escape, Admits He Lied". The New York Times. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  32. ^ Day, Elizabeth (5 September 2009). "I love you Phillip Morris: a conman's story". the Guardian.
  33. ^ Lapppin, Elana (6 June 1999). "The Boy Who had Two Lives". The Independent.