The Imposter

I’ve been using Netflix lately to watch some new movies that I haven’t watched yet, and I have been in a documentary kick. I was reading an article on Facebook the other day about horror/crime documentaries on Netflix because I really enjoy watching movies and documentaries about ghosts and murders and things like that. One that I had saw was a 2012 documentary entitled “The Imposter”. I watched it and I really enjoyed it. Here’s what this documentary is about.

The documentary revolves around interviewing family members of Nicholas Barclay, who disappeared from San Antonio, TX at 13 years old in 1994. He was a troublesome kid, was diagnosed with ADD, and had left home on several occasions before but for no longer than a day. This time, he never came home.

3 years later in October 1997, Spain Law Enforcement received a call from a “tourist couple” who ran into a teenager who had no identification so the police came and picked him up. Later, the police contacted police from the US claiming they had Nicholas Barclay in Linares, who was currently living in a shelter after escaping from a sex ring. Nicholas’ family was notified, and his older sister traveled to Linares to identify her brother.


After Nicholas was brought back to Texas, it shows that his sister continues to show him pictures of his past and that there’s a majority he doesn’t remember due to how long he has been gone and what he went through. His memory appeared to come back slowly, and started to use hand gesture he used before he disappeared as shown above.

After Nicholas returned, there were many people including family members who became suspicious that the boy who was brought back was not in fact Nicholas. The individual had brown hair and brown eyes, when Nicholas had blonde hair and blue eyes. He claimed that when he abducted and placed in the sex ring, he was injected with chemicals to change his eye and hair color to make him unrecognizable. The man also spoke with a European accent and claimed that his voice changed from an American to European due to being there for so long. Nicholas Barclay’s older brother even came to visit after Nicholas returned and only said to him, “Good Luck”. It was stated in the documentary that it was speculated that his older brother knew that the man was not his brother Nicholas, but chose not to make any accusations.

After authorities gained suspicion that Nicholas Barclay was not who he said he was, they wanted a DNA Sample and fingerprints to confirm his identity. Nicholas refused both, along with not wanting to name his abductors. In February of 1998, 4 months after he was brought from Spain to Texas, the FBI obtained a court order for fingerprints and DNA.

The results came back identifying the man as not Nicholas Barclay, but 23 year old Frédéric Pierre Bourdin,  who was a French citizen and serial imposter nicknamed “The Chameleon”. by press.


After his real identity was confirmed, Bourdin pleaded guilty to passport fraud and perjury in 1998 admitting that he had posed as Nicholas after getting the missing boy’s information from a missing child center. He served 6 years in prison. Some sources say that he was the “tourist” who has made the original call back in Spain, while others say that in incorrect.

He also made several claims he had known Nicholas in Spain and that he was alive, he claimed he had proof that Nicholas was deceased, and later he denied having ever met Nicholas at all and stated he knew nothing about the case.

Even though this documentary just focuses on Bourdin and his impersonation of Nicholas Barclay, Bourdin assumed several other identities after he served time for his impersonation of Nicholas.

After Bourdin left the states and returned to France, he assumed the identity of Léo Balley, a 14-year-old French boy who had been missing since 1996. In August 2004 he was in Spain, claiming to be an adolescent named Ruben Sanchez Espinoza. When the police found out the truth, they deported him to France. In June 2005 Bourdin passed himself off as Francisco Hernandes-Fernandez, a 15-year-old Spanish orphan.

He was later caught and sentenced to 4 months in  prison for possessing and using the previous false identity of Léo Balley.

I found this documentary extremely interesting and am excited to see what other documentaries I come across on Netflix. I would also love to hear about documentaries other people have seen so I can check them out!


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