Who are you? Do you know? How do I know you are who you say you are? *eyes reader suspiciously.
I’m still thinking about The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle this week. If you missed my review, the premise is the main character must repeat the same day over and over while inhabiting different bodies to try to solve a murder before it happens.
Since that doesn’t happen in real life (at least not in my experience! Maybe you know something I don’t) it got me thinking about the idea of imposters.
I’m a terrible liar so it fascinates me that someone could assume a completely different identity and make people believe it.
So I looked up some famous imposters for our post swap this week.
What could you do with these?
This is for my historical-loving friends. In the early 1800’s this woman showed up in a village in England. She appeared to be disoriented, was wearing “exotic” clothes, and spoke a language no one understood. Eventually a sailor met her and claimed to speak her language. He “translated” that she was Princess Caraboo of the island of Javasu in the Indian Ocean. She had been kidnapped by pirates and escaped by swimming ashore. For a short while, she enjoyed all the perks of 1800s royalty.
Until someone recognized her and revealed that she was actually a former servant who had made the language and everything else up.
There’s much more to the story. But I got stuck on the sailor. Who was he? Why did he pretend to understand her? What he part of the hoax? Did she pay him to appear at the right time to present her story, or did he make it up as he was listening to her, and it sounded so good she decided to go with it?
If you are looking for something a little more contemporary:
There are so many things wrong with this story and so much to play with! First, the man was in jail for…wait for it…IDENTITY THEFT! He was being held in Arkansas until deputies could retrieve him for a warrant in California.
His girlfriend calls, claims to be from Ventura County, and tells the Arkansas deputy that she has sent a fax releasing the hold. When the deputy says they didn’t get a fax, she sends him an electronic copy FROM A GMAIL ACCOUNT with SPELLING MISTAKES in the wording and THEY LET THE MAN OUT.
Two days later the real deputies show up and the Arkansas deputies are like,“Oops! Our bad!”
This would make a great suspense. What if the woman who called wasn’t his girlfriend? What if he would have been safer in jail? What if your main character was the real deputy try to catch these two?
This story has always intrigued me. if you aren’t familiar with it, “Clark” (which is not even close to his real name) came to America at the age of 17 under the guise of being an exchange student. After a series of cons, and two murders (for the whole story, check out this Vanity Fair article) he ends up in Connecticut, claiming to a member of the Rockefeller family. He even gets married to an extremely successful business woman. After about a DECADE, the wife starts to get suspicious because even though he claimed to have sold a business for billions, she was fully supporting him. Everything came crashing down after they divorced and he kidnapped his daughter during as supervised visit. He was captured a week later and the daughter wasn’t harmed.
What stuns me about this story, other than the fact he was able to pull off so many cons, is that the people in his life—particularly the wife—didn't see any red flags until they were billowing in their face!
I’d want to explore the wife’s story. How do you ever trust anyone after that? And what about the daughter? How do you explain THAT to a kid and what impact will have on, oh, say, the rest of her life?
That’s what I have for you this week! Got any great imposter stories?
Just a heads up that I will be talking about a twisted imposter who posed as a missing child in this month’s Crime Time. You can sign up for my News and Reviews to check it out.