Mysterious 'Forest Boy' Identified as a Fraud

Robin Van Helsum admits he made it all up
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2012 8:09 AM CDT
Mysterious 'Forest Boy' Identified as a Fraud

(Newser) – The mysterious "Forest Boy" who showed up in Berlin last year with (so he said) no idea who he was is actually Robin Van Helsum, a 20-year-old from the Netherlands who had been reported missing by his family days before his appearance in Germany. Authorities identified Van Helsum—who had claimed to be a 17-year-old named Ray who had spent the last five years living in a forest—after releasing the first photograph of him; friends recognized it. "He has admitted that he is a fraud," an officer tells the Telegraph.

Van Helsum admitted that he actually ran away from his home town and arrived in Berlin via train, wanting "a new life," the officer says. "He didn't go anywhere near a forest." German authorities apparently always had doubts about his story, but attempts to identify him via DNA tests, linguistic studies, and Interpol inquiries failed. He may face fraud charges, since he received "money, clothes, housing, and education" to the tune of nearly $8,000 per month from Germany. (Read more Robin Van Helsum stories.)

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