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Robin Van Helsum
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    (April 22, 1992- )
    Born in Hengelo, Netherlands
    Disappeared from a youth hostel in his hometown (September 2, 2011)
    Appeared at Berlin City Hall (September 5, 2011)
    Gave his first name as ‘Ray’ and claimed to have been born in 1994
    Told authorities that his mother had died in a car crash when he was twelve
    Said that he and his father had lived in the forests of Germany for five years until his father’s death in August, 2011
    Dubbed ‘Forest Boy’ by the media
    Identified by an ex-girlfriend after his photo was distributed internationally (June, 2012) and admitted to having made up the story
    He dropped out of college after less than a year.
    He was forced to leave a youth group home after getting another resident pregnant.
    He reacted to impending fatherhood the mature way: running away to another country and lying about his identity.
    Because he claimed to be a minor and an orphan, he was provided with shelter and assistance by the Berlin Youth Office.
    While he was claiming to be an orphan, both his parents were still alive.
    His father died in February, 2012, without knowing what had happened to his son.
    He gave false hope to an elderly Swiss couple who thought he might be their missing grandson until a DNA test proved he wasn’t.
    A spokesperson for the Berlin Youth Office noted that he did not apologize or show any sign of contrition after being exposed as a hoax.
    His parents divorced when he was a toddler and fought a bitter custody battle that reportedly traumatized him.
    He was a fan of South Park and Family Guy.
    A court agreed to drop charges of obtaining public assistance through fraud in return for 150 hours of community service (September 26, 2013).

Credit: C. Fishel

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