So at last, the results of the intuitive experiment.

Who is the man in the photo?

His name is Frédéric Bourdin.

Frédéric Bourdin is a French serial imposter the Press has nicknamed ‘The Chameleon’. Over the years, he has assumed at least 39 false identities, 3 of them were actual missing persons. He tends to impersonate teenagers. He hasn’t impersonated anyone for a few years now and has since got married, settled down and had children.

You were right not to trust him, though!

Just over 75 people did this experiment, leaving comments and sending emails. Over half of those people did not trust him. Out of those people who did trust him, there were only 7. The rest didn’t comment on whether they trusted him.

Those who didn’t trust him said things like:

He’s a con artist; untrustworthy; cruel. Some people felt his energy was ‘icky’, negative, some felt sick when they tuned into him.

Here’s some information about his ‘acting’ exploits:

Thirteen years ago, he took the identity of Nicholas Barclay, a missing teenager from San Antonio, Texas. In spite of having the wrong eye colour and the fact he spoke with a French accent, he still managed to persuade the family that he was their long-lost son. He lived with the family for three months before a local private investigator realized what was going on and a DNA test confirmed that he was not their son. He was imprisoned for six years as a result.

But he didn’t stop there. He did it again in 2003 in Southern France – he claimed he was missing teenager Leo Balley but again, DNA tests proved he was lying.

And again the next year, he pretended to be teenager Ruben Sanchez Espinoza and said his mother had been killed in the Madrid bomb attacks. He was deported back to France when the truth came out.

And again in 2005, he managed to pass himself off as an orphaned teenager half his age – Francisco Hernandes-Fernandez and he spent time in a French school. The truth came out again one month later and he was given four months in prison for stealing the identity of Leo Balley. The photo above is from that period in his life.

So that’s probably why you picked up he was untrustworthy and cruel, which many people did.

Sorrow in his Past

A third of those who responded picked up on the pain and sorrow from his past. Here is what Wikipedia says about his past:

Bourdin was raised by his grandparents in Paris and was later put into a children’s home. He says that he never knew his father, that his mother intended to have an abortion and eventually abandoned him and that he was sexually abused. In an interview with the New Yorker, his mother said that Bourdin’s father was an Algerian immigrant. He began his impostures as soon as he left the children’s home.

According to his 2005 interviews, Bourdin has been looking for “love and affection” and attention he never received as a child. He has pretended to be an orphan several times and almost always plays an abused and abandoned child.

Although it seems he was apparently not motivated by financial gain, I certainly would not trust him with money. I personally suspect he could be just as slippery with money as he is with the truth.

So who is he now?

One of the commenters, Lisa said:

“Isn’t it interesting how the responses are very much one way or the other: caring and sensitive AND cruel and untrustworthy.”

Although many people didn’t trust him, some people did like him, some felt he was caring and sensitive and some felt sorry for him. I feel this impression comes from his difficult childhood. Tuning into his energy, I feel a very confused man at the time of this photo, definitely untrustworthy, but someone who might feel bad about what he had done later on.

Are you picking up on who he is now?

In 2007, Bourdin married a French woman named Isabelle after a yearlong courtship. They have three children, the first one a daughter. He was interviewed by a journalist from the Guardian who asked him if he had become a new person now that he was a father and a husband, to which Bourdin replied, “No, this is who I am.”

My Conclusion – the Conflicting Answers

The two ways in which he was seen by readers (caring and sensitive OR untrustworthy and cruel) could be interpreted in two ways:

1. Who he is now vs. who he was before or
2. Who he is on the inside (emotionally sensitive, needing love and attention) vs. the cruel things he did to get this attention.

Many other of the impressions that you picked up were correct – here are a couple more:


Many felt that he was interested in music or had some talent in this area. When he was acting as one of the missing teenagers he impersonated (Francisco), he apparently showed a dazzling knowledge of music and he also impressed everyone with his Michael Jackson performance.

His ability as an actor

Being able to convince a family that you’re their long-lost son (although very cruel) does show some talent as an actor and shows a certain intelligence too.


In terms of nationality, ten people rightly picked up he was French (he does look French, in my opinion.) Some people also picked up on the American connection and the British and Spanish connections (he’s impersonated British, Spanish and American people and speaks English well.)

His aliases have included Benjamin Kent, Jimmy Morins, Alex Dole, Sladjan Raskovic, Arnaud Orions, Giovanni Petrullo and Michelangelo Martini (Italians).

How did you do?

Some people did really well and got multiple hits in their responses. Well done!

If you’d like further tips to improve your skills in reading people, I have some pointers below that you can perhaps use for the next experiment. For those who did this for the first time, please know that it takes a lot of practice to read someone accurately. I’m pretty sure I would have sucked on my first few attempts, at the very least. How you do now has no bearing on how you might do in the future, because it’s all about practice.

But here is the question to ask yourself when in doubt about someone – tune into them and ask:

Would I trust this person with my treasures? – for example: my children, my money and my treasured possessions.

Your instincts in response to that question are very revealing and this is the most basic and usually the most reliable form of intuition a person can have.

See yourself being put in a situation where you have to trust this person with something – do you feel very uneasy? It is normal not to feel 100% certain but if you get a real NO about it, then that’s your answer.

Not Everyone is Trustworthy

One of the barriers to reading people accurately is a belief that everyone is a nice person underneath. We read people according to our beliefs. This can have you trusting and liking someone who will only hurt you.

As you may know, I don’t believe that anyone is fundamentally negative or dark on the soul-level, but I do believe that people sometimes incarnate in negative roles (what past life regression therapist Dr. Coletta Long calls perpetrator lifetimes.) And those people exist in the world. I doubt that Frederic Bourdin is one of them – he seems to me to be a very confused soul with a strange way of rebelling against life and the way he was brought up.

What I’ve learned through this experiment is that a connection to reality matters when reading people. If you have a shaky connection to human reality and not much energy concentrated in the lower chakras, you may be wonderful at connecting to angels, but not so good at getting the truth about another human. You may only see the person on the soul level, which is fine, until that person does something that is not aligned with who they are on the soul level. So, if you are a very spiritual person, the more grounding you have in your life and connection to reality, the better you become at reading character.

This is just what I’ve observed and believe anyway. Tell me what your thoughts are on this.

And how did you do? Please leave a comment letting me know…

And thank you for taking part. It was fun doing this experiment.

Sources of information on Frédéric Bourdin:

Wikipedia article

Guardian Article – David Grann meets Frédéric Bourdin, the man who pretended to be missing teenager

Want To Do Another Intuitive Experiment?

Move on to experiment #3!