Impostor

Impostor

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Encyclopedia
An impostor or imposter is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often to try to gain financial or social advantages through social engineering
Social engineering (security)
Social engineering is commonly understood to mean the art of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information...

, but just as often for purposes of espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 or law enforcement
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

.

False pretender
Pretender
A pretender is one who claims entitlement to an unavailable position of honour or rank. Most often it refers to a former monarch, or descendant thereof, whose throne is occupied or claimed by a rival, or has been abolished....

s to various thrones used to be common. Numerous men claimed they were the Dauphin
Louis XVII of France
Louis XVII , from birth to 1789 known as Louis-Charles, Duke of Normandy; then from 1789 to 1791 as Louis-Charles, Dauphin of France; and from 1791 to 1793 as Louis-Charles, Prince Royal of France, was the son of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette...

, the heir to the French throne who disappeared during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, and there were three false Dimitris
False Dmitriy
False Dmitriy is a term that refers to the pretenders to the Russian throne during the Time of Troubles who claimed to be Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich of Russia, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible, after the real Dmitriy's death at the age of eight. These impostors claimed to have miraculously...

 who were serious pretenders to the throne of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Other notable royal pretenders include Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne during the reign of King Henry VII of England. By claiming to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower, Warbeck was a significant threat to the newly established Tudor Dynasty,...

, Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia...

, and, more recently, Robert Brown, who claims to be the son of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend (an RAF officer). The case of Anna Anderson is unusual in that it is believed that her claim to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia was the work of a third party, as she was not considered to be in sound mind. It also differs from many other impostures in that although hard, irrefutable scientific proof has arisen making her (or the third party's) claim without a doubt false, many still refuse to discount it.

Very daring impostors may pretend to be someone else who really exists, although the rapidity of modern news coverage has made this difficult in the case of notable individuals. Usually, however, impostors simply take on a new and completely fabricated identity, misrepresenting their financial status, educational status, social status, family background and, in some cases, gender. Impostors are usually aware of not being who they say they are. However, there are borderline cases who may end up believing their own tall tales, and some (often children or those suffering from a mental illness such as dementia or schizophrenia, as in the case of Anna Anderson) whose imposture may be the creation of a third party. People may make false claims about their past or background without being full-blown impostors; common false claims include having seen military action and involvement in well-known disasters such as the sinking of the RMS Titanic or the September 11, 2001, attacks. It is sometimes said that if every person who claimed to have "just missed" the Titanic's departure had been on board, the ship would have sunk like a lead weight in Southampton Harbour.

Many temporary impostors are criminals who maintain a façade temporarily to defraud their victims (such as Wilhelm Voigt
Wilhelm Voigt
Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt was a German impostor who masqueraded as a Prussian military officer in 1906 and became famous as The Captain of Köpenick ....

). Others, such as US prankster Joey Skaggs
Joey Skaggs
Joey Skaggs is an American prankster who has organized numerous successful media pranks, hoaxes, and other presentations. He is considered one of the originators of the phenomenon known as culture jamming. Skaggs used Kim Yung Soo, Joe Bones, Joseph Bonuso, Giuseppe Scaggioli, Dr. Joseph Gregor,...

, commit an imposture as a prank or to make a point of some kind. The latter usually reveal the truth sooner or later. Still others, such as John Howard Griffin
John Howard Griffin
John Howard Griffin was an American journalist and author much of whose writing was about racial equality. He is best known for darkening his skin and journeying through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to experience segregation in the Deep South in 1959...

, have adopted other identities for purposes of research, investigation or experiment. Although impostors usually misrepresent their backgrounds, their intentions may or may not be criminal as such. They may wish to start afresh with a new identity or "go native"; i.e. adopt the identity and customs of other people. John List
John List
John Emil List was an American murderer. On November 9, 1971, he murdered his wife, mother, and three children in Westfield, New Jersey, and then disappeared. He had planned everything so meticulously that nearly a month passed before anyone noticed that anything was amiss...

 is an example of a criminal who adopted a new identity in order to evade justice; in List's case, he was wanted for the mass murder of his entire family, including his three young children.

Women have masqueraded as men to obtain privileges only men can have or to work in male-dominated professions. Some have fought as men; examples are known from the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 and the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

An organization or individual who has been fooled may keep quiet to avoid embarrassment; this may allow the impostor to evade disclosure.

Exposing impostors


In 1910 Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker
Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

 (the author of Dracula
Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

), published a book of nonfiction called Famous Impostors
Famous Impostors
Famous Impostors is the fourth and final book of nonfiction by Bram Stoker , published in 1910. It is a book that deals with exposing various impostors and hoaxes.-Contents:*Pretenders*Practitioners of Magic*The Wandering Jew...

which deals with the subject of exposing various impostors and hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

es. A complete PDF version of the book can be downloaded from Bram Stoker Online.

Fraudsters

  • Frank Abagnale
    Frank Abagnale
    Frank William Abagnale, Jr. is an American security consultant known for his history as a former confidence trickster, check forger, impostor, and escape artist...

    , who passed bad cheques as a fake pilot, doctor and lawyer.
  • Cassie Chadwick
    Cassie Chadwick
    Cassie L. Chadwick is the infamous name used by a Canadian woman who defrauded several U.S. banks out of millions of dollars by claiming to be an illegitimate daughter and heiress of Andrew Carnegie.-Early life:...

    , who pretended to be Andrew Carnegie
    Andrew Carnegie
    Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...

    's daughter.
  • Arthur Orton
    Arthur Orton
    Arthur Orton , was the celebrated Tichborne claimant of the Victorian era.-Biography:Orton was born at Wapping, London, the son of George Orton, a butcher and purveyor of ships' stores....

    , also known as the Tichborne Claimant, claimed to be the missing heir Sir Roger Tichborne.
  • David Hampton
    David Hampton
    David Hampton was an American con artist who gained infamy in the 1980s after milking a group of wealthy Manhattanites out of thousands of dollars by convincing them he was Sidney Poitier's son...

    , who pretended to be the son of Sidney Poitier
    Sidney Poitier
    Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

    .
  • Richard Allen Minsky, who scammed female victims for sex by pretending to be jailed family members over the phone.
  • Frederick Emerson Peters
    Frederick Emerson Peters
    Frederick Emerson Peters was an American impostor who wrote bad checks masquerading as scholars and famous people. In an age before mass communication, few store owners bothered to ID check writers....

    , U.S. celebrity impersonator and writer of bad checks.
  • Lobsang Rampa
    Lobsang Rampa
    Cyril Henry Hoskin , more popularly known as Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, was a writer who claimed to have been a lama in Tibet before spending the second part of his life in the body of a British man. Hoskin described himself as the "host" of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa...

    , who claimed to be a deceased Tibet
    Tibet
    Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

    an Lama
    Lama
    Lama is a title for a Tibetan teacher of the Dharma. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru .Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries...

     possessing the body of Cyril Hoskins and wrote a number of books based on that premise.
  • James Reavis
    James Reavis
    James Addison Reavis , later using the name James Addison Peralta-Reavis, the so-called Baron of Arizona, was an American forger and fraudster...

    , who claimed he owned Arizona
    Arizona
    Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

    .
  • Christopher Rocancourt
    Christopher Rocancourt
    Christophe Thierry Rocancourt, sometimes also called Christopher Rocancourt, is an impostor, confidence man and gentleman thief who scammed affluent people by masquerading as a French member of the Rockefeller family.-Biography:He told Dateline NBC in a 2006 broadcast that his mother sometimes...

    , who pretended to be a member of the Rockefeller family
    Rockefeller family
    The Rockefeller family , the Cleveland family of John D. Rockefeller and his brother William Rockefeller , is an American industrial, banking, and political family of German origin that made one of the world's largest private fortunes in the oil business during the late 19th and early 20th...

    .
  • Michael Sabo
    Michael Sabo
    Michael John Sabo is an American consultant and speaker on identity theft and fraud in the business sector. He is currently Executive Director of US Prison Consultants, a principal resource for individuals charged with white-collar crime....

    , who was known as a "Great Impostor" with over 100 professional aliases listed with the FBI.
  • Wilhelm Voigt
    Wilhelm Voigt
    Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt was a German impostor who masqueraded as a Prussian military officer in 1906 and became famous as The Captain of Köpenick ....

    , who masqueraded as the "Captain of Köpenick".

Exotic impostors

  • Mary Baker, who pretended to be Princess Caraboo
    Princess Caraboo
    Mary Baker was a noted impostor who went by the name Princess Caraboo. She pretended to be from a faraway island and fooled a British town for some months.-Biography:...

     of Javasu.
  • Youree Dell Harris, better known as Miss Cleo
    Miss Cleo
    Youree Dell Harris better known as Miss Cleo, is an American psychic and shaman who achieved fame as a spokeswoman for a psychic pay-per-call service from 1997 - 2003....

    , claimed to be from Jamaica
    Jamaica
    Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

    .
  • Joseph Howard Lee, who claimed to be the African native Bata LoBagola
    Bata LoBagola
    Bata Kindai Amgoza ibn LoBagola was an early 20th century American impostor and entertainer who presented an exoticized identity as a native of Africa, when in reality he was born Joseph Howard Lee in Baltimore, Maryland...

    .
  • George Psalmanazar
    George Psalmanazar
    George Psalmanazar claimed to be the first Formosan to visit Europe. For some years he convinced many in Britain, but was later revealed to be an impostor...

    , who claimed to be from Formosa
    Taiwan
    Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

    .

Royal and aristocratic impostors



  • Anna Anderson
    Anna Anderson
    Anna Anderson was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia...

    , who may have really believed she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
    Nicholas II of Russia
    Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

    .
  • Bardiya
    Bardiya
    Bardiya was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life, he may have ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BCE, or he may have been impersonated by a magus called Gaumata. -Name and sources:The...

    , ancient ruler of Persia, widely regarded as an impostor but may have been genuine.
  • Alexis Brimeyer
    Alexis Brimeyer
    Alexis Ceslaw Maurice Jean Brimeyer was a false pretender who claimed connection to various European thrones. He used fraudulent combined titles like Prince d'Anjou Durazzo Durassow Romanoff Dolgorouki de Bourbon-Conde...

    , a Belgian who claimed connection to various European royal houses.
  • Bhawal case
    Bhawal case
    The Bhawal case was an extended Indian court case about a possible impostor who claimed to be the prince of Bhawal, who was presumed dead a decade earlier.- Apparent first death and cremation :...

    , concerning a "resurrected" Indian prince who may have been genuinely who he was claimed to be.
  • Mary Carleton
    Mary Carleton
    Mary Carleton was an Englishwoman who used false identities, such as a German princess, to marry and defraud a number of men.-Early life:...

     who was, amongst other things, a false princess and bigamist.
  • Count Dante
    Count Dante
    Count Juan Raphael Dante was a controversial American martial artist figure during the 1960s and '70s who claimed he could do extraordinary feats such as Dim mak....

     is the real name of John Keehan. Many don't recognize his rationale for assuming the title, and allegedly rightful, name of Spanish nobility
    Spanish nobility
    Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility according to the laws and traditions of the Spanish monarchy. A system of titles and honours of Spain and of the former kingdoms that constitute it comprise the Spanish nobility...

    . In his campaign to promote his system of martial arts, he also claimed victories in various secret deathmatches in Asia, and mercenary activity in Cuba, none of which carried documented proof.
  • False Dmitriy I
    False Dmitriy I
    False Dmitriy I was the Tsar of Russia from 21 July 1605 until his death on 17 May 1606 under the name of Dimitriy Ioannovich . He is sometimes referred to under the usurped title of Dmitriy II...

    , False Dmitriy II and False Dmitriy III, who all impersonated the son of Ivan the Terrible.
  • Harry Domela
    Harry Domela
    Harry Domela was a Latvian-born German impostor who pretended to be a deposed German crown prince.Harry Domela was born to German parents in 1905 in Kurland, Latvia . At the age of fifteen he fought in the first Freikorps against Baltic rebels. He moved to Germany after the World War I...

    , who pretended to be an heir to the German throne.
  • Eugenio Lascorz
    Eugenio Lascorz
    Eugenio Lascorz y Labastida was a pretender who claimed connection to the royal house of the Byzantine Empire. Eugenio Lascorz was born in Zaragoza . His father was a laborer....

     who claimed connection to the royal house of the Byzantine Empire
    Byzantine Empire
    The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

    .
  • Terence Francis MacCarthy
    Terence Francis MacCarthy
    Terence Francis MacCarthy , formerly self-styled Tadhg V, The MacCarthy Mór, Prince of Desmond and Lord of Kerslawny, is a genealogist, historian, and writer. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a resident of Morocco...

    , styled himself MacCarthy Mór and "Prince of Desmond"
  • False Margaret
    False Margaret
    False Margaret was a Norwegian woman who impersonated Margaret, Maid of Norway....

    , who impersonated the Maid of Norway.
  • Pierre Plantard
    Pierre Plantard
    Pierre Athanase Marie Plantard was a French draughtsman, best known for being the principal perpetrator of the Priory of Sion hoax, by which he claimed from the 1960s onwards that he was a Merovingian descendant of Dagobert II and the "Great Monarch" prophesied by Nostradamus.-Surname:Pierre...

    , the mastermind behind the Priory of Sion
    Priory of Sion
    The Prieuré de Sion, translated from French as Priory of Sion, is a name given to multiple groups, both real and fictitious. The most notorious is a fringe fraternal organisation, founded and dissolved in France in 1956 by Pierre Plantard...

     hoax who claimed to be Merovingian, a pretender to the throne of France.
  • Frederick Rolfe
    Frederick Rolfe
    Frederick William Rolfe, better known as Baron Corvo, and also calling himself 'Frederick William Serafino Austin Lewis Mary Rolfe', , was an English writer, artist, photographer and eccentric...

    , who is better known as Baron Corvo.
  • Lambert Simnel
    Lambert Simnel
    Lambert Simnel was a pretender to the throne of England. His claim to be the Earl of Warwick in 1487 threatened the newly established reign of King Henry VII .-Early life:...

    , a pretender to the throne of England.
  • Eugenia Smith
    Eugenia Smith
    Eugenia Smith, of Chicago, also known as Eugenia Drabek Smetisko, was one of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. She is the author of the Autobiography of HIH Anastasia Nicholaevna of Russia , in which she claimed to be Anastasia...

    , another woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia.
  • Charles Stopford
    Charles Stopford
    Charles Albert Stopford is an impostor who, in 1982, assumed a false identity using a technique described in the book The Day of the Jackal, involving the birth certificate of a deceased baby who would have been approximately the same age as him...

    , an American man who has claimed to be an English nobleman since 1983 using the name of a dead infant.
  • Perkin Warbeck
    Perkin Warbeck
    Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne during the reign of King Henry VII of England. By claiming to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower, Warbeck was a significant threat to the newly established Tudor Dynasty,...

    , a pretender to the throne of England.

Academic impostors

  • Dr Charlotte Bach, a fringe evolutionary theorist who was neither a doctor nor a woman.
  • Marvin Hewitt, who became a university professor without any credentials.
  • James Hogue
    James Hogue
    James Arthur Hogue is a US impostor who most famously entered Princeton University by posing as a self-taught orphan.-Early life:...

    , who most famously entered Princeton University by posing as a self-taught orphan.
  • Marilee Jones
    Marilee Jones
    Marilee Jones is a former dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the co-author of the popular guide to the college admission process Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond...

    , Dean of Admissions at MIT and best-selling author who claimed advanced degrees in science fields. After ten years in the post, she was revealed to have only a high school diploma.
  • Brian MacKinnon, who went back to being a teenager in order to re-enter medical school.
  • Timothy Leslie McCormack, bogus aircraft engineer who personally conducted or signed off on dozens of maintenance checks on Qantas planes before being discovered. He had only passed one basic exam, and later was found to have forged character references in order to receive a lesser sentence.
  • Lana Nguyen, who became a university professor with the credentials of her husband. She resigned when students complained of her lack of knowledge on the subject she taught.
  • Adam Wheeler, who transferred to Harvard University
    Harvard University
    Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

     by pretending to attend M.I.T. and to have graduated from Phillips Academy, and submitted false SAT scores.

People who "went native"

  • Forrest Carter, author of The Education of Little Tree
    The Education of Little Tree
    The Education of Little Tree is a memoir-style novel written by Asa Earl Carter under the pseudonym Forrest Carter. Since its first publication by Delacorte Press in 1976, the book has been the subject of acclaim. Many people have been drawn to its message of simple living, tradition, and love of...

    .
  • Carlos Castaneda
    Carlos Castaneda
    Carlos Castaneda was a Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author....

    , writer and self-styled anthropologist.
  • Iron Eyes Cody
    Iron Eyes Cody
    Iron Eyes Cody was an American actor. He frequently portrayed American Indians in Hollywood films. In 1995, Cody was honored by the American Indian community for his work publicizing the plight of Native Americans, including his acting in films...

    , Italian American
    Italian American
    An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...

     actor (the "crying Indian" in anti-litter commercials) who claimed to be a Native American
    Native Americans in the United States
    Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

    .
  • Jamake Highwater
    Jamake Highwater
    Jamake Highwater was an US writer and journalist who claimed Native American ancestry.-Earlier life as Jay Marks:The exact date of Highwater's birth is unknown but it might be any time between 1923-1933...

     (aka Gregory Markopoulos, Jay Marks), author.
  • Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance
    Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance
    Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance , born Sylvester Clark Long, was an American journalist, writer and actor from Winston-Salem, North Carolina who became internationally prominent as a spokesman for Indian causes...

    , an African American
    African American
    African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

     who claimed to be a Native American
    Native Americans in the United States
    Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

    .
  • Two Moon Meridas
    Two Moon Meridas
    "Chief" Two Moon Meridas was an American seller of herbal medicine who claimed that he was of Sioux birth.Meridas was born Chico Colon Meridan, son of Chico Meridan and Mary Tumoon; his exact place and date of birth are unclear...

    , herbalist and faux Amerindian.
  • Grey Owl
    Grey Owl
    Grey Owl was the name Archibald Belaney adopted when he took on a First Nations identity as an adult...

    , an Englishman who wanted to be Ojibwa
    Ojibwa
    The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

    .

Multiple impostors

  • Frederic Bourdin
    Frederic Bourdin
    Frédéric Bourdin is a French serial impostor the press has nicknamed "The Chameleon".According to himself, his lawyer and the press reports, Bourdin was raised by his grandparents in Paris and was later put into a children's home...

    , "the French Chameleon".
  • Barry Bremen has entered multiple sporting events pretending to be an MLB
    Major League Baseball
    Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

     umpire, an NBA
    National Basketball Association
    The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

     All-Star
    National Basketball Association All-Star Game
    The National Basketball Association staged its first All-Star Game in the Boston Garden on March 2, 1951. From that year on, the game has matched the best players in the Eastern Conference with the best players in the Western Conference....

    , and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader
    Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
    The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is the National Football League cheerleading squad representing the Dallas Cowboys.- 1960s :The original cheerleading squad was a made up of a male-female group called the CowBelles & Beaux. The group made its sidelines debut in 1960 during the Cowboys' inaugural...

     among other things.
  • Ferdinand Waldo Demara
    Ferdinand Waldo Demara
    Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Jr. , known as "the Great Impostor", masqueraded as many people from monks to surgeons to prison wardens...

    , "The Great Impostor".
  • Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, German who claimed to be a member of the Rockefeller family among other things.
  • Stanley Clifford Weyman
    Stanley Clifford Weyman
    Stanley Clifford Weyman , was an American multiple impostor who impersonated public officials, including the United States Secretary of State and various military officers....

  • Jerry Alan Whittredge, dubbed the "Great Astronaut Impersonator", arrested in 1998 after talking his way into NASA's Mission Control during a Space Mission, being given VIP tours of two Navy bases and receiving information about the space shuttle. He claimed to be an Astronaut, CIA Regent for Life, Medal of Honor winner and Top Gun Trophy winner, according to the affidavit of the arresting agent Joseph Gutheinz; he also claimed his attorney was President Bill Clinton.
  • Laurel Rose Willson
    Laurel Rose Willson
    Laurel Rose Willson was an American woman born in Washington, whose allegations of satanic ritual abuse were published under the alias Lauren Stratford, which she would later adopt as her legal name...

    , who claimed to be victim of satanic ritual abuse
    Satanic ritual abuse
    Satanic ritual abuse refers to the abuse of a person or animal in a ritual setting or manner...

     "Lauren Stratford" and Holocaust survivor "Laura Grabowski" (see also Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski was a name which Bruno Dössekker adopted in his constructed identity as a Holocaust survivor and published author...

    ).

Women who lived as men


Many women in history have presented themselves as men in order to advance in typically male-dominated fields. Not all were transgender
Transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 in the current sense. See also: Crossdressing during wartime
Crossdressing during wartime
Many people have engaged in cross-dressing during wartime under various circumstances and for various motives. This has been especially true of women, whether while serving as a soldier in otherwise all-male armies, while protecting or disguising their identity in dangerous circumstances, or for...

.
  • James Barry
    James Barry (surgeon)
    James Barry , was a military surgeon in the British Army. After graduation from the University of Edinburgh, Barry served in India and Cape Town, South Africa. By the end of his career, he had risen to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals...

    , who successfully lived as a "male" British military surgeon.
  • Frances Clalin
    Frances Clalin
    Frances Clalin Clayton, was a woman who disguised herself as a man named Jack Williams in order to fight for Union forces during the American Civil War. She served in the Missouri artillery and cavalry units for several months.-Early life:...

    , who served in Missouri artillery during the United States Civil War.
  • Nadezhda Durova
    Nadezhda Durova
    Nadezhda Andreyevna Durova , also known as Alexander Durov, Alexander Sokolov and Alexander Andreevich Alexandrov, was a woman who became a decorated soldier in the Russian cavalry during the Napoleonic wars. She was the first known female officer in the Russian military...

    , a woman who became a decorated soldier in the Russian cavalry during the Napoleonic wars
    Napoleonic Wars
    The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

    .
  • Catalina de Erauso
    Catalina de Erauso
    Catalina de Erauso, also known as La Monja Alférez , was a semi-legendary personality of the Basque Country, Spain and Spanish America in the first half of the seventeenth century.- Life :Catalina de Erauso was daughter and sister of soldiers from the city of San Sebastián in Spain...

    , Basque
    Basque people
    The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

     nun-soldier under Spanish colonial army.
  • Dorothy Lawrence
    Dorothy Lawrence
    Dorothy Lawrence was an English reporter who secretly posed as a man to become a soldier during the First World War.- Early life :...

    , an English journalist who wore uniform during World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

    .
  • Hua Mulan
    Hua Mulan
    Hua Mulan is a legendary figure from ancient China who was originally described in a Chinese poem known as the Ballad of Mulan . In the poem, Hua Mulan takes her aged father's place in the army. She fought for 12 years and gained high merit, but she refused any reward and retired to her hometown...

    , who disguised herself as a man to join the Chinese
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     army, when her father was too old for it.
  • Deborah Sampson
    Deborah Sampson
    Deborah Samson Gannett , better known as Deborah Sampson, was an American woman who impersonated a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She is one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in that war...

    , a female soldier during the American War of Independence.
  • Mary Anne Talbot
    Mary Anne Talbot
    Mary Anne Talbot was an Englishwoman who wore maleMary Anne Talbot was born in London. Later she claimed that she was one of the sixteen illegitimate children of Lord William Talbot, Baron of Hensol...

    , an Englishwoman who became a sailor during the Napoleonic wars
    Napoleonic Wars
    The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

    .
  • Billy Tipton
    Billy Tipton
    Billy Lee Tipton was an American jazz musician and bandleader. Born Dorothy Tipton, he also notable for the discovery, after his death, that he was female assigned at birth.- Early life :...

    , jazz musician.
  • Loreta Janeta Velazquez
    Loreta Janeta Velazquez
    Loreta Janeta Velazquez , was a Cuban-born woman who masqueraded as a male Confederate soldier during the Civil War. She enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861, without her soldier-husband's knowledge. She fought at Bull Run, Ball's Bluff and Fort Donelson, but her gender was discovered while in...

    , who supposedly was a Confederate
    Confederate States of America
    The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

     soldier under the name Harry T. Buford.
  • Stanisława Walasiewicz, a Polish athlete who became an Olympic champion by competing among women, even though it was later learned that Walasiewicz had ambiguous genitalia and could not easily be identified as either biologically male or female.
  • Pope Joan
    Pope Joan
    Pope Joan is a legendary female Pope who, it is purported, reigned for a few years some time in the Middle Ages. The story first appeared in the writings of 13th-century chroniclers, and subsequently spread through Europe...

    , a woman who allegedly ruled as pope. Many doubt the historicity of this account.

Military impostors


People who have never served in the military have claimed service, often with decorations or membership in highly selective units, while others who have actual military service have embellished or exaggerated their accomplishments.
  • Joseph A. Cafasso
    Joseph A. Cafasso
    Joseph Anthony Cafasso, Jr. is a former Fox News consultant on military and counterterrorism issues who left the network after allegations surfaced that he misrepresented his military record.-Early life:...

    , former Fox News military analyst who claimed to have been a highly-decorated Special Forces soldier and Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

     veteran. He actually served in the U.S. Army
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

     for only 44 days.
  • Wes Cooley
    Wes Cooley
    Wester Shadric "Wes" Cooley was a Republican politician and rancher from Oregon. He was a U.S. Representative from for the 1995–1997 term.-Early life:...

    , a former US Congressman who claimed to have fought in the Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

    . He served in the U.S. Army for two years, but was never in Korea.
  • Arthur Rex Crane, former President of the Ex POW Association of Australia who claimed to have been captured by the Japanese and sent to work on the Burma Railway during WWII in order to claim service and disability pension payments. He was at school in Adelaide during the war and never served in the military.
  • Brian Dennehy
    Brian Dennehy
    Brian Mannion Dennehy is an American actor of film, stage and screen.-Early years:Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Hannah and Edward Dennehy, who was a wire service editor for the Associated Press; he has two brothers, Michael and Edward. Dennehy is of Irish ancestry and was...

    , a famous American actor who claimed to have fought in the Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    . He served in the United States Marine Corps
    United States Marine Corps
    The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

     for four years, but was never in Vietnam.
  • George Dupre
    George Dupre
    George Dupre is a Canadian man who falsely claimed to have been an Special Operations Executive operative during World War II.In 1953 Quentin Reynolds, an ex-war correspondent, had written a book The Man Who Wouldn't Talk about George Dupre's alleged wartime experiences...

    , who claimed that he worked for the SOE
    Special Operations Executive
    The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

     and the French Resistance
    French Resistance
    The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

     during World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    . Dupre served in World War II, but he was never in France or with the SOE.
  • Joseph Ellis
    Joseph Ellis
    Joseph John Ellis is a Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College who has written histories on the founding generation of American presidents. His book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation received the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2001.-Background and teaching:He received his B.A...

    , American professor and historian who claimed a tour of duty in the Vietnam War
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    . He served in the military during the war, but never left the U.S.
  • Jesse Macbeth
    Jesse Macbeth
    Jesse Adam Macbeth is an anti-war protester who falsely claimed to be an Army Ranger and veteran of the Iraq War. He lied in alternative media interviews that he and his unit routinely committed war crimes in Iraq. Transcripts of the video were made in English and Arabic.According to the U.S...

    , anti-war
    Anti-war
    An anti-war movement is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term can also refer to pacifism, which is the opposition to all use of military force during conflicts. Many...

     activist who claimed to be an Army Ranger
    Army Ranger
    Army Ranger can refer to:* Canadian Rangers, a component of the army of the Canadian Forces* Irish Army Rangers* Pakistan Army Rangers* United States Army Rangers* Vietnamese Rangers, part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam...

     ordered to execute innocent civilians in Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    . He was discharged from the Army as unfit for duty before completing basic training.
  • Alan Mcilwraith
    Alan Mcilwraith
    Alan Mcilwraith is a former call centre worker from Glasgow, Scotland who was exposed by a tabloid newspaper after passing himself off as a much-decorated British Army officer....

    , a call centre
    Call centre
    A call centre or call center is a centralised office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. A call centre is operated by a company to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers. Outgoing calls for telemarketing,...

     worker from Glasgow
    Glasgow
    Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

     who, among other things, claimed that he was a decorated captain in the British Army
    British Army
    The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

    . Mcilwraith had never served in the military.
  • James Shortt
    James Shortt
    James Gerard Richard Shortt, also known as Jim Shortt, Jimbo, Seamus Shortt, Colonel The Chevalier James Shortt, James Shortt of Castleshort, or The Baron Castleshort, is an English born Director General of the International Bodyguard Association...

    , who claimed that he was SAS/Para, the Baron of Castleshort, and a DG International Bodyguard Association
    International Bodyguard Association
    The International Bodyguard Association is an organization established by Lucien Ott in Paris in December 1957. The Association's primary objective is to train customers in bodyguard techniques...

    . His only military service was a few months as a medic
    Combat medic
    Combat medics are trained military personnel who are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injury...

     with the Territorial Army (the British Army reserves).
  • Robert Stanley, who has stolen the identities of actual Navy SEALs and others, and along with his wife, Jennifer L. Stanley, frequently claims that they were or are Navy SEALs.
  • Micah Wright
    Micah Wright
    Micah Ian Wright is an American author who has worked in film, television, animation, video games and comic books.-Biography:...

    , an anti-war
    Anti-war
    An anti-war movement is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term can also refer to pacifism, which is the opposition to all use of military force during conflicts. Many...

     activist who claimed to be an Army Ranger
    Army Ranger
    Army Ranger can refer to:* Canadian Rangers, a component of the army of the Canadian Forces* Irish Army Rangers* Pakistan Army Rangers* United States Army Rangers* Vietnamese Rangers, part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam...

     involved in the United States invasion of Panama
    United States invasion of Panama
    The United States Invasion of Panama, code-named Operation Just Cause, was the invasion of Panama by the United States in December 1989. It occurred during the administration of U.S. President George H. W...

    ,and several other covert operation
    Covert operation
    A covert operation is a military, intelligence or law enforcement operation that is carried clandestinely and, often, outside of official channels. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation...

    s. He was an ROTC student in college, but never took a commission and never served in the military.
  • Jeff "Rock" Harris, personal trainer and body building judge who claimed to have been a highly decorated Army Ranger
    Army Ranger
    Army Ranger can refer to:* Canadian Rangers, a component of the army of the Canadian Forces* Irish Army Rangers* Pakistan Army Rangers* United States Army Rangers* Vietnamese Rangers, part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam...

     who earned numerous commendations during Operation Restore Hope. Harris' claims were quickly refuted by Raleigh Cash and Matt Eversmann, two soldiers who served during the Battle of Mogadishu
    Battle of Mogadishu
    The Battle of Mogadishu or for Somalis: the Day of the Rangers was part of Operation Gothic Serpent and was fought on October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, between forces of the United States supported by UNOSOM II and Somali militia fighters loyal to the self-proclaimed president-to-be...

    .

Others

  • Bampfylde Moore Carew
    Bampfylde Moore Carew
    Bampfylde Moore Carew was an English rogue, vagabond and impostor, who claimed to be King of the Beggars.He was the son of Reverend Theodore Carew, rector of Bickleigh. The Carews were a well-established Devonshire family. Although they had a reputation for adventurousness, Bampfylde Moore Carew...

    , a Devon
    Devon
    Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

    shire man whose popular Life and Adventures included picaresque episodes of vagabond
    Vagabond (person)
    A vagabond is a drifter and an itinerant wanderer who roams wherever they please, following the whim of the moment. Vagabonds may lack residence, a job, and even citizenship....

     life, including his claim to have been elected King of the Beggars.
  • Alan Conway
    Alan Conway
    Alan Conway became known for impersonating the film director Stanley Kubrick. Conway and his wife were travel agents with offices in Harrow, Muswell Hill and London.-Early years:...

    , who impersonated Stanley Kubrick during the early 1990s.
  • Chevalier d'Eon, who lived the second half of his life as a woman.
  • Anoushirvan D. Fahkran, a 27-year-old Iranian porn actor who legally changed his name to Jonathan Taylor Spielberg and posed as the 14-year-old nephew of legendary Hollywood director Steven Spielberg
    Steven Spielberg
    Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

     to enrol in high school.
  • Lewis Peter "Buddy" Morgan, who started impersonating Randy Meisner
    Randy Meisner
    Randy Herman Meisner is an American musician and songwriter, best known as a founding member of Poco and the Eagles...

    , the former bass player of the Eagles in 1988. His identity was not conclusively revealed until 1997, after which he was arrested and spent 16 months in jail, but upon his release continued his charade and was still doing so as of 2006.
  • Robert Hendy-Freegard
    Robert Hendy-Freegard
    Robert Hendy-Freegard is a British barman, car salesman, conman and impostor who masqueraded as an MI5 agent and fooled several people to go underground for fear of IRA assassination...

    , who posed as an MI5
    MI5
    The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

     officer.
  • John Howard Griffin
    John Howard Griffin
    John Howard Griffin was an American journalist and author much of whose writing was about racial equality. He is best known for darkening his skin and journeying through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to experience segregation in the Deep South in 1959...

    , who darkened his skin and travelled in the American South as a black man in 1959 to write Black Like Me
    Black Like Me
    Black Like Me is a non-fiction book by journalist John Howard Griffin first published in 1961. Griffin was a white native of Mansfield, Texas and the book describes his six-week experience travelling on Greyhound buses throughout the racially segregated states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama...

    .
  • Pavel Jerdanowitch
    Paul Jordan-Smith
    Paul Jordan-Smith was an American journalist, editor, and author from Los Angeles, California.He produced an all-English edition of The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton, and, posing as the fictitious "Pavel Jerdanowitch", founded the Disumbrationist school of modern painting as a hoax....

    , the father of the Disumbrationist
    Disumbrationism
    Disumbrationism was a hoax masquerading as an art movement that was launched in 1924 by Paul Jordan-Smith, a novelist, Latin scholar, and authority on Robert Burton from Los Angeles, California....

     movement.
  • Ashida Kim, believed by many to be Caucasian author and self proclaimed ninja Radford Davis (alternate pen name Christopher Hunter), who wrote numerous books on ninjutsu
    Ninjutsu
    or may be:*the arts associated with espionage and assassination in feudal Japan, see Ninja*modern schools of martial arts claiming to be based in these traditions, see Modern Schools of Ninjutsu*fictional depictions, see Ninja in popular culture...

     during the '70s and '80s, noted for refusing to provide details about his teachers, or the lineage of the martial art in which he claims expertise.
  • Enric Marco
    Enric Marco
    Enric Marco is an impostor who claimed to have been a prisoner in Nazi German concentration camps Mauthausen and Flossenburg in World War II. He was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi by the Catalan government in 2001 and wrote a book on his experiences...

    , who presided over an association of Spanish survivors of the Nazi camps when he went to Germany to work in the Nazi war industry.
  • Guerdwich Montimere, a 22-year-old man who posed as homeless 16-year-old orphan Jerry Joseph and became the star of the Permian Panthers high school basketball team.
  • Louis de Rougemont
    Louis de Rougemont
    Louis De Rougemont was a would-be explorer who claimed to have had adventures in Australasia."De Rougemont" was born Henri Louis Grin in 1847 in Gressy, Vaud, Switzerland. He left home at the age of sixteen...

    , who claimed to be an explorer.
  • Steven Jay Russell
    Steven Jay Russell
    Steven Jay Russell is a U.S. con artist and impostor, known for escaping from prison multiple times. He has received numerous nicknames, including "Houdini" and "King Con." A film about his life and crimes was produced in 2009, named I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carrey as Steven Jay...

    , who has impersonated judges and a doctor among others.
  • Treva Throneberry, a 31-year-old woman who became 16-year-old Brianna Stewart and impersonated other teenage girls.
  • Arnaud du Tilh, who took the place of Martin Guerre
    Martin Guerre
    Martin Guerre, a French peasant of the 16th century, was at the center of a famous case of imposture. Several years after the man had left his wife, child, and village, a man claiming to be Guerre arrived. He lived with Guerre's wife and son for three years. The false Martin Guerre was tried,...

     in the 16th century and lived with Guerre's wife and son for three years before being discovered when Guerre returned.
  • Graham Tumber, who despite looking nothing at all like him and despite using his own name, impersonated Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi
    Francis Rossi
    Francis Dominic Nicholas Michael Rossi, OBE is a British musician best known for being a co-founder of the English rock band Status Quo, in which he sings lead vocals and plays lead guitar.- Career :...

     for a year, duping Dover
    Dover
    Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

     district council into providing free hospitality and transport services after promising to appear at a charity concert in the town.
  • Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski
    Binjamin Wilkomirski was a name which Bruno Dössekker adopted in his constructed identity as a Holocaust survivor and published author...

    , a fake Holocaust survivor.

Books

  • The Count of Monte Cristo
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas. It is often considered to be, along with The Three Musketeers, Dumas's most popular work. He completed the work in 1844...

  • The Man in the Iron Mask
  • Imposers are a common theme in the Blandings Castle
    Blandings Castle
    Blandings Castle is a recurring fictional location in the stories of British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being the seat of Lord Emsworth , home to many of his family, and setting for numerous tales and adventures, written between 1915 and 1975.The series of stories which take place at the castle,...

    series of novels and short stories.

Film

  • A Knight's Tale - A peasant poses as nobility to compete in a jousting tournament
  • Big Momma's House
    Big Momma's House
    Big Momma's House is a 2000 American crime comedy film directed by Raja Gosnell, written by Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer, and starring Martin Lawrence as FBI agent Malcolm Turner. The majority of the film took place in Cartersville, Georgia, but the film was shot on location in California. The...

    - Martin Lawrence
    Martin Lawrence
    Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence is an American actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and stand up comedian. He came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywood career as a leading actor, most notably the films Bad Boys, Blue Streak, and Big Momma's House...

     disguises himself as a rotund grandmother
  • Catch Me If You Can
    Catch Me If You Can
    Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical comedy-drama film based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who, before his 19th birthday, successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American World Airways pilot, a Georgia doctor, and a Louisiana parish prosecutor...

    - True story of Frank Abagnale Jr. who successfully conned millions of dollars worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor.
  • Coming to America
    Coming to America
    Coming to America is a 1988 comedy film directed by John Landis. The screenplay was written by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, from a story by Eddie Murphy, who also stars in the film. Murphy plays an African prince, who heads to the United States in hopes of finding a woman he can marry...

    - A rich African prince pretends to be poor
  • Connie and Carla
    Connie and Carla
    Connie and Carla is a 2004 American comedy film directed by Michael Lembeck and starring Nia Vardalos, Toni Collette, and David Duchovny.The film was shot in Vancouver and featured a number of local drag queens.-Plot:...

    - Two women pose as drag queens
  • Dave
    Dave (film)
    Dave is a 1993 comedy-drama film written by Gary Ross, directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. Co-stars include Frank Langella, Kevin Dunn, Ving Rhames, and Ben Kingsley. Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay...

    - A look-alike fills in for the President
  • Face/Off
    Face/Off
    Face/Off is a 1997 action thriller film directed by John Woo, starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. The two both play an FBI agent and a terrorist, sworn enemies who assume the physical appearance of one another....

    - John Travolta
    John Travolta
    John Joseph Travolta is an American actor, dancer and singer. Travolta first became known in the 1970s, after appearing on the television series Welcome Back, Kotter and starring in the box office successes Saturday Night Fever and Grease...

     and Nicolas Cage
    Nicolas Cage
    Nicolas Cage is an American actor, producer and director, having appeared in over 60 films including Raising Arizona , The Rock , Face/Off , Gone in 60 Seconds , Adaptation , National Treasure , Ghost Rider , Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans , and...

     pose as each other
  • House Guest
    House Guest
    House Guest is a reality programme that began on ITV on 19 May 2008.The show consists of a group of 5 people who each, along with a co-host, host a dinner party for the other guests. This involves a three course meal along with entertainment. The guests mark, out of 10, the hosts food and hosting...

    - Sinbad
    Sinbad (entertainer)
    David Adkins better known by his professional name of Sinbad, is an American stand-up comedian and actor. He became well known in the 1990s from being featured on his own HBO specials, appearing on several television series, and starring in the films Necessary Roughness, Houseguest, First Kid,...

     pretends to be a rich dentist
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
    I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
    I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is a 2007 comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan, written by Barry Fanaro, and starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James as the title characters. The film was released on July 20, 2007, in the U.S., August 16, 2007, in Australia and on September 21, 2007, in the UK and...

    - Two straight firefighters pose as homosexual lovers
  • Just One of the Guys
    Just One of the Guys
    Just One of the Guys is a 1985 comedy film, directed by Lisa Gottlieb. The film is marketed with the tagline "Terri Griffith is about to go where no woman has gone before." This movie ranked number 48 on Entertainment Weeklys list of the "50 Best High School Movies".-Plot:Terry Griffith is an...

    - A female high school reporter poses as a teen-aged boy.
  • Juwanna Mann
    Juwanna Mann
    Juwanna Mann is a 2002 romantic comedy film directed by Jesse Vaughan. The movie stars Miguel A. Núñez, Jr. as Jamal Jeffries, a basketball star turned female impersonator after being banned from men's basketball. The film also stars Vivica A. Fox, Kevin Pollak, Tommy Davidson, Kim Wayans,...

    - A male basketball player dresses as a woman to play in the WNBA
  • Little Man
    Little Man
    Little Man may refer to:In history:*Little Man , a Cheyenne Holy ManIn music:*"Little Man" , a 1999 single by Alan Jackson*"Little Man" , a 1966 single by Sonny & Cher...

    - A diminutive, but adult, criminal pretends to be an infant
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
    Mrs. Doubtfire
    Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy film starring Robin Williams and Sally Field and based on the novel Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. It was directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup...

    - Robin Williams
    Robin Williams
    Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

     disguises himself as an old British nanny
  • The New Guy
    The New Guy
    The New Guy is a 2002 American teen comedy directed by Ed Decter. The film tells the story of high school loser Dizzy Gillespie Harrison. Dizzy is an unpopular, high school band geek going through a hellish senior year...

    - A high school geek poses as a dangerous criminal to be more popular
  • Overboard
    Overboard
    Overboard may refer to:*Man overboard; a situation where a person goes over the side of a ship or boat into the water, possibly needing rescue*Overboard , a 1987 movie starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell...

    - A poor carpenter tricks a rich heiress into believing that he is her husband
  • The Ringer - Johnny Knoxville
    Johnny Knoxville
    Philip John Clapp , better known by his stage name Johnny Knoxville, is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, stunt performer, best known for being the co-creator and principal star of the MTV reality series Jackass, with the catchphrase "I'm Johnny Knoxville, and welcome to Jackass."-Early...

     pretends to be mentally challenged to enter the Special Olympics
  • She's the Man
    She's the Man
    She's the Man is a 2006 American romantic comedy film directed by Andy Fickman, based on Twelfth Night, a play by William Shakespeare. The film stars Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey and Vinnie Jones....

    - A female soccer star pretends to be a boy to play on their team
  • Sister Act
    Sister Act
    Sister Act is a 1992 American comedy film released by Touchstone Pictures. Directed by Emile Ardolino, it features musical arrangements by Marc Shaiman and stars Whoopi Goldberg as a Reno lounge singer who has been put under protective custody in a San Francisco convent and has to pretend to be a...

    - A Reno lounge singer pretends to be a nun
  • Some Like It Hot
    Some Like It Hot
    Some Like It Hot is an American comedy film, made in 1958 and released in 1959, which was directed by Billy Wilder and starred Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and George Raft. The supporting cast includes Joe E. Brown, Pat O'Brien and Nehemiah Persoff. The film is a remake by Wilder and I....

    - Two men pretend to be women
  • Soul Man
    Soul Man
    Soul Man may refer to:*"Soul Man" , a hit song by Sam & Dave from 1967*Soul Man , a 1986 film starring C. Thomas Howell*Soul Man , a 2006 album by X Factor runner-up Andy Abraham...

    - A white man undergoes treatment to appear black
  • The Associate
    The Associate
    The Associate is a 1996 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Eli Wallach, Timothy Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Austin Pendleton and Lainie Kazan...

    - A black woman disguises herself as a white man to get a job on Wall Street
    Wall Street
    Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

  • The Secret of My Success
    The Secret of My Success
    The Secret of My Success is a 1965 British comedy film from American writer-director Andrew L...

    - A kid from the mail room pretends to be an executive
  • Tootsie
    Tootsie
    Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to go to extreme lengths to land a job. The movie stars Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, with a supporting cast that includes Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman,...

    - A struggling actor pretends to be a woman
  • Tropic Thunder
    Tropic Thunder
    Tropic Thunder is a 2008 American action satire comedy film written, produced, and directed by Ben Stiller, and starring Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., and Jack Black. The main plot revolves around a group of prima donna actors who are making a Vietnam War film...

    - Robert Downey, Jr. plays an Australian actor who undergoes a "racial transplant" to play an African American role
  • Two Much
    Two Much
    Two Much is a 1995 romantic screwball comedy film based on Donald Westlake's novel of the same name, and is also a remake of the 1984 French comedy film Le Jumeau, which was also based on Westlake's novel. Directed by Fernando Trueba, Two Much stars Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah...

    - A man wants to date two different women, so he pretends to have a twin brother
  • Victor Victoria - A woman poses as a drag queen
    Drag queen
    A drag queen is a man who dresses, and usually acts, like a caricature woman often for the purpose of entertaining. There are many kinds of drag artists and they vary greatly, from professionals who have starred in films to people who just try it once. Drag queens also vary by class and culture and...

  • Wedding Crashers
    Wedding Crashers
    Wedding Crashers is a 2005 American comedy film directed by David Dobkin. It stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, with Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Bradley Cooper, Diora Baird, Jane Seymour, and an uncredited Will Ferrell....

    - Two party crashers trick a wedding party into believing they were invited
  • While You Were Sleeping
    While You Were Sleeping
    While You Were Sleeping is a 1995 romantic comedy film directed by Jon Turteltaub and written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Frederic Lebow. It stars Sandra Bullock as Lucy, a Chicago Transit Authority token collector and Bill Pullman as Jack, the brother of a man whose life she saves, along with Peter...

    - A subway fare collector fools a family into believing she was engaged to their comatose son
  • White Chicks
    White Chicks
    White Chicks is a 2004 American film directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and written and produced by Keenen Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans. The film was produced by Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios...

    - Two black men disguise themselves as young white women
  • Working Girl
    Working Girl
    Working Girl is a 1988 romantic comedy film written by Kevin Wade and directed by Mike Nichols. It tells the inspiring story of a Staten Island-raised secretary, Tess McGill , working in the mergers and acquisitions department of a Wall Street investment bank...

    - A secretary takes the role of her boss, a player on Wall Street
  • Zelig
    Zelig
    Zelig is a 1983 American mockumentary film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Allen and Mia Farrow. Allen plays Zelig, a curiously nondescript enigma who is discovered for his remarkable ability to transform himself to resemble anyone he's near.The film was shot almost entirely in...

    - A man yearning for social acceptance develops the ability to imitate features and habits of the persons around him.

See also

  • Capgras syndrome
  • Charlatan
    Charlatan
    A charlatan is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception....

  • Miriam Coles Harris
    Miriam Coles Harris
    Miriam Coles Harris was an American novelist. She wrote several novels, a book of children's stories and two devotional books...

    , author who was the victim of an impostor.
  • Confidence trick
    Confidence trick
    A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility,...

  • Identity deception
  • Identity theft
    Identity theft
    Identity theft is a form of stealing another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name...

  • Impersonator
    Impersonator
    An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for someone to be an impersonator, some common ones being as follows:...

  • Impostor syndrome
    Impostor Syndrome
    The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. It is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of numerous books and articles by...

  • List of Messiah claimants
  • Political decoys

External links