Nicholas Barclay (13) had finished playing basketball with his friends and called his mom to pick him up, but she was asleep. He never made it home.
That was in June 13th, 1994. The day after he had a sentencing hearing for some juveline criminal activity, so at first his family thought he had disappeared willingly. Then, when they finally reported him missing, police couldn’t find any trace of him.
Three years passed without any news from Nicholas, until the Barclay family received a call from a youth shelter in Spain. A man said Nicholas was living there after escaping from a pedophile ring operation. His sister flew to Spain, identified him and brought him home.
His mother instantly believed it was him, but other members of the family started to get suspicious, especially when he refused to give blood samples or fingerprints that would prove his identity. After getting the FBI involved, they found out the truth.
The man who claimed to be Nicholas was really a 23 year old french con man called Frederic Bourdin. He’d got Nicholas’ information in a missing child center and at some point claimed he had met the boy, but later denied it. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Nicholas Barclay remains missing. His older brother, who once said had seen him trying to get in the house after he disappeared, was considered a suspect but he died of an overdose in 1998.
This weird story is the subject of a fascinating documentary called The Imposter. which you can find in the US Netflix.