UK & World News
I Faked It: Mystery 'Forest Boy' Comes Clean
An English-speaking teenager dubbed 'forest boy' after claiming he lived in the wild in Germany for half a decade has turned out to be a fake.
The young man, who turned up in Berlin last year saying his name was Ray and that he had been living in a forest for the last five years, has been named as 20-year-old Robin van Helsum from the Netherlands.
After the police published his picture earlier this week, a former girlfriend identified him as being from Hengelo, near the German-Dutch border, saying he was reported missing nine months ago.
When confronted with the details, the young man admitted who he was and confessed to officers to having made up the whole story.
Police said he left his home in September 2011 without telling his father or stepmother where he was going. The couple alerted the authorities to his absence.
His stepmother has now confirmed the boy's identity but his father died earlier this year.
In a statement the police said: "The young man known as Ray was confronted with the results of the investigation.
"He then confirmed his real personal details and admitted that the previous story - that he had lived for years in the woods - had been invented."
In a tale that captured the world's imagination, the then-teenager turned up at Berlin city hall on September 5, 2011.
Speaking English and only a few words of German, the boy said his father had died suddenly in August and that after burying him in the woods he walked north for five days to reach Berlin.
'Ray' had said his mother 'Doreen' had died in a car accident, which he did not remember, when he was 12 and that he assumed scars on his face were incurred in the crash.
After a brief stint with Berlin's emergency youth services, 'Ray' was placed in an institution for assisted living and assigned a legal guardian.
The police never found a body and had trouble believing his tale so earlier this week released his photograph with a plea for information on the case.
After his disappearance was reported, a Dutch website on missing relatives carried an entry on Robin van Helsum, saying he was born in 1992 and had been missing since September 2, 2011 - three days before he arrived in Berlin.
Robin "left after leaving a farewell note. He was last seen traveling with a friend to Berlin. Since then every trace of him is gone," the entry on Vermist.nl says.Berlin police said even though he had been reported missing, there was no active investigation into his disappearance because there was no evidence of foul play and, aged 19 at the time, he was an adult.
Police are now looking into whether Mr van Helsum could be charged with fraud.
Berlin police spokesperson Michael Maas said the boy had made "fools" of the German authorities, adding that he may be required to pay the cost of the investigation into his identity.
"This is no joke anymore. He made right fools of us. The costs could come down to him," Mr Maas told the Die Welt newspaper.