Being a teenager is when you find yourself, and try to shape your personality. At times, this can include lying about who you are. Most of the time it’s fairly harmless, like pretending you’re a published author to impress girls, or using a fake ID to score some alcohol. What most teenagers don’t do is take the pretend act so far that it makes the news, like these 10 teens.
10. Chance LaCasse
By looking at 19-year-old Chance LaCasse’s social media accounts, it was clear that he had a fascination with law enforcement. There were a number of pictures of him dressed up in a police uniform and as a detective. He even bought a Glock 19 and a German shepherd. LaCasse took his interest too far on April 1, 2015, when he went to an ice cream shop in Merrick, New Hampshire, wearing a police jacket with New Hampshire State Police patches on it and had a gun holstered on his hip.
People in the shop became suspicious because while LaCasse was 19, he didn’t even look old enough to shave. The ice cream shop employees thought it was some type of April Fool’s prank. Someone didn’t find it funny, though, and phoned the (real) police on the babyfaced cop wannabe. LaCasse was arrested a short distance away from the ice cream shop and charged with impersonating an officer.
February 11, 1986, was a tough day for Gardiners Avenue Elementary in Levittown, Long Island, because they were having problems getting substitute teachers. So when a mature looking 16-year-old girl, only identified as Carol, came into the office at the same time as the other substitute teachers, a school administrator thought she was a sub and assigned Carol to teach a third grade class.
School officials were only alerted to the fact that Carol was a teenager after school was over, because the children told their parents that their substitute teacher was only 16. School officials said it was a terrible mistake and they normally check substitutes before assigning them to a class. They also said they changed security measures since Carol’s “tenure.”
As for how Carol performed as a teacher, the students said she did a good job and taught them long division.
8. “President Harry S. Truman”
In the summer of 1953, an unidentified 16-year-old in Basin, Wyoming, started to swindle an 83-year-old widow out of her money through a series of cons. At first, the young man and two friends were somehow able to get $150 out of the woman. Then on August 8, the boy returned to the widow’s house dressed in sunglasses and a business suit. He identified himself as an agent with the “U.S. Secret Rangers Service” and this time, the teen got $200 to “help fight Communism.”
Apparently stealing $350 from an octogenarian widow wasn’t enough for the teen, so he hitchhiked to Plymouth, Michigan, and mailed a letter to the widow asking for $2,000. This time he signed off the letter as “President Harry S. Truman.” When the woman got the letter, she finally became suspicious enough to call the police and the FBI.
The FBI investigated the frauds and by the end of August, the 16-year-old imposter was arrested for impersonating a federal officer. He was looking at three years in prison, or a $1,000 fine, or both, but no record of the verdict could be found.
7. Izaha Akins
In late 2015, 18-year-old college student Izaha Akins heard that Ohio State Senator David Burke was going to speak at a class at Mohawk High School in Sycamore, Ohio. Akins called the school and spoke to the teacher of the class. He told the teacher that Burke was going to resign soon, and he was selected to replace him. When the teacher asked Akins why she hadn’t heard about any this, Akins said it was because he was the second choice to replace Burke; the first person turned it down. Also, Burke intended to announce he was going to resign in a few weeks, so that is why it wasn’t in the news. The story seemed genuine to the teacher and she agreed to let Akins come in on December 15, which was a month earlier than Burke was supposed to talk to the class. After setting up the lecture with the school, Akins then contacted a car dealership posing as an aide of the senator, and arranged for them to provide a car and a driver to take him to the school.
When Akins got to the school, he signed in using his own identification and spoke to the class for an hour. Amazingly, no one realized that Akins wasn’t a senator until a month later, when the real senator showed up at the high school to give his scheduled speech. On February 10, Akins was arrested for impersonating a peace officer and telecommunications fraud, which are both felonies. Akins said he pulled the stunt to show the lack of security in small town schools.
6. Vincent Richardson
According to Vincent Richardson’s mother, ever since he was five-years-old, he wanted to be a police officer. In January of 2009, he decided to try to become one. The problem was that Richardson was only 14-years-old and in the eighth grade. Nevertheless, Richardson, dressed in full regulation uniform, went into the Grand Crossing District station in Chicago and convinced them he was a new hire. Amazingly, they believed him. He was allowed to patrol traffic for five hours and it was only as the shift was coming to an end that his partner realized that Richardson didn’t have a police star. Richardson was arrested before he could leave the police station. When the news that a 14-year-old successfully posed as one of Chicago’s finest was made public, the Mayor was obviously angry and 14 officers in the department faced disciplinary action.
Months later that same year, Richardson pulled another con. This time he pretended to be a businessman and stole a Lexus from a dealership, which he crashed. For impersonating an officer and stealing the car, he was given probation, but he broke the terms and spent two months in a juvenile facility.
In 2013, when he was 19, Richardson tried to buy police clothing and equipment from a uniform store. Richardson was asked if he was a police officer, and he said he was. The clerk asked to see his ID and Richardson complied. The store clerk Google searched his name, and since Richardson made national headlines for posing as a cop when he was 14, the clerk decided it was best to phone the police. Richardson was arrested and this time sentenced to 18-months in prison.
Sadly, this wasn’t just an adolescent phase of Richardson’s life. When Richardson was 21, he was arrested a third time for impersonating a police officer. It happened one night in May 2015. Two Chicago police officers were investigating sounds of gunshots and they pulled his car over. He and his passenger were wearing bullet proof vests, so the police searched the car and both people in it. Richardson was in possession of a handgun and his friend had a stun gun. Both were arrested, and Richardson was again given 18-months in prison.
5. Keron Thomas
In 1990, when Keron Thomas was in his early teens, he moved from Trinidad and Tobago to Bed-Stuy, New York and was immediately fascinated by the city’s famed subway system. He rode the trains for fun and he hung around stations, where he learned New York Transit lingo. He managed to get a Transit Authority book of rules and regulations and studied it. In his bedroom, the walls were adorned with Transit Authority posters. Needless to say, he was obsessed. No one realized how obsessed he was until May 8, 1993.
On that day, Thomas, who was 16, called the Transit Authority pretending to be an off-duty motorman looking for overtime work. He even gave the motorman’s identification number, and they told him to come in for an evening shift. When he arrived at the subway station, he was wearing a Transit Authority t-shirt and blue jeans. Jeans aren’t part of the dress code, but he was allowed access to the train, even though he didn’t show an employee badge. He also had a vest, a brake switch, and a reverse key. It is believed he got the supplies by buying it at a Transit Authority store with a fake ID.
At 3:58 p.m., Thomas took control of the A Train of the New York Subway system. Thomas lasted three hours, made 85 stops, and carried 2,000 passengers. It all came to an end when he accidentally set off the automatic brakes by reaching speeds of over 20 MPH (which was the speed limit), and he didn’t know how to turn them off. He was arrested and sentenced to three years of probation.
After making headlines in national newspapers for his escapade, Keron Thomas went on to own a trucking company. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 37 from heart disease.
4. Matthew Scheidt
In August 2011, 17-year-old Matthew Scheidt went to the Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, Florida, to get an employee badge. Scheidt had been hired on as a clerk at a doctor’s office across the road. Instead of telling the HR department he was a clerk, he said he was a physician assistant student and he wanted to do some shadowing in the emergency room. Without looking into his credentials, the hospital gave him a badge that signified he was a physician assistant and gave him access to the ER.
Scheidt said he was able to pass off the ruse because he had always been interested in the medical field. As he was growing up, he studied it on his own time and watched a lot of hospital dramas on television. He also said that when he was 11, he lied about his age and volunteered at a hospital (volunteers had to be over the age of 14). He was apparently fired after he pretended to be a nurse.
When Scheidt worked in the ER, he was involved in exams, changed bandages, and even performed CPR on a patient that was overdosing on medication. Scheidt, who was trained in CPR, worked on the woman for 20 minutes. She died the next day, but there is no indication that Scheidt contributed to her death.
Weeks went by before the hospital staff became wise to Scheidt and the police were called. Scheidt told the police that he had been given the wrong work badge and he just went with it. He was arrested for practicing medicine without a license and posted bail.
In January 2012, while on bail, Scheidt and a friend traveled to Miami, and that’s where he pretended to be a police officer. He was driving a white Crown Victoria and unknowingly pulled up beside an undercover police officer. He told the undercover officer to do up his seatbelt and acted like a cop. When the undercover cop asked Scheidt if he was a police officer, Scheidt said yes. The undercover cop didn’t believe him, so he called for backup. When the real police showed up, they searched Scheidt’s car and found an Osceola County sheriff’s badge, a deputy’s t-shirt, handcuffs, a police radio, a taser, and a handgun loaded with hollow point bullets. Scheidt was arrested again and charged with impersonating an officer and carrying a concealed weapon.
Amazingly, this wasn’t the first time Scheidt had gotten in trouble for being a “police officer.” When he was just 13, he was kicked out of a youth police training group because he repeatedly wore equipment in public that would make people believe that he was an actual police officer.
Scheidt spent a year in prison, mostly in solitary confinement due to the publicity of the case.
3. Malachi A. Love-Robinson
Malachi A. Love-Robinson first posed as a doctor in late December 2014 and early January 2015. Love-Robinson was just 17 when he was caught roaming the halls of St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm, Florida, wearing a lab coat with a St. Mary’s logo on it. He got away with this for about a month, before he was arrested after an OB/GYN doctor had Love-Robinson, who called himself Dr. Robinson and said he had been a doctor for “years,” join him for an exam. When the doctor realized that Love-Robinson wasn’t a real doctor, he called the police. At the time, Love-Robinson wasn’t arrested and his name wasn’t released to the public. Love-Robinson’s mother said her son was ill and he refused to take his pills
Perhaps not realizing how lucky he was to get away with posing as a doctor, Love-Robinson decided to double down on his charade. In late 2015, he started a website and Facebook page for a company called “New Birth New Life Medical Center Urgent Care, LLC.” He also set up a false HealthGrades.com profile, where he claimed to be a 25-year-old naturopathy specialist.
In January 2016, Love-Robinson started to straddle that line between very weird and impressive when he managed to open a physical office, complete with a grand opening party, in a building where other medical offices were located, and he even had staff. The police were tipped off that Love-Robinson was performing medicine without a license and an undercover agent went in for an examination. The sting led to Love-Robinson being arrested in February 2016 for practicing medicine without a license. Love-Robinson said that he didn’t prescribe any drugs and he did have a doctorate, which was kind of true: he bought a doctorate in divinity online for $29.95.
Two weeks after being arrested for pretending to be a doctor, Love-Robinson was arrested again, this time for theft. It all started in December 2015, when 86-year-old Anita Morrison of West Palm Beach was having sharp stomach pains. She did some research online and found out about Love-Robinson’s clinic. After contacting the clinic, Love-Robinson went to Morrison’s house dressed in a white lab coat and had a stethoscope around his neck. He also called himself “Dr. Love.” He did an examination on Morrison and sold her some vitamins. Over the next few weeks, the young-looking doctor visited four more times. That is when Morrison noticed $34,500 missing from her checking account.
Love-Robinson was offered a plea deal of three years in prison with five years of probation. Love-Robinson said that he was only trying to help people.
2. David Hampton
19-year-old David Hampton’s ruse started innocently enough. It was summer of 1983, Hampton, who was born in Buffalo, New York, and a friend were in New York City, trying to get into Studio 54. Of course, if you’ve ever been to a popular club, you know that two single men usually don’t have a hope of getting in. So he and his friend lied; his friend said he was the son of Gregory Peck, while Hampton said he was David Poitier, son of the legendary Sidney Poitier. The bouncers believed them and they were allowed into the famous nightclub.
Once Hampton got a taste of what a little bit of fame does, he continued to use the David Poitier alias. He would go to restaurants and tell them that he was there to meet his father. When Poitier didn’t show up, the restaurant wouldn’t charge him for anything. He also tried to mingle with Andy Warhol on a few occasions, but Warhol never met him.
One night, Hampton went to Melanie Griffith’s apartment and knocked on the door. Actor Gary Sinise was staying at the apartment and answered the door. Hampton told Sinise his alias and said he had missed his flight. The problem was that all his money and luggage was on the plane. Sinise let Hampton stay the night, bought him breakfast in the morning, and gave him $10.
After that, Hampton somehow got hold of an address book full of New York’s elite families from a young man named Robert Stammer. Using the address book, Hampton would go to the family’s home, tell them he was a friend of the family’s son or daughter, and that he was Poitier’s son. He would tell them he just needed a place to stay for the night, and then tomorrow his dad would be flying into the city. A number of prominent New York families believed him. They took him in for the night, fed him, and even gave him small amounts of money.
His scam was exposed while he was staying with the editor of Newsweek, Osborn Elliott. His wife, Inger, found Hampton in bed with a man and Osborn kicked Hampton out. After catching him, Ingrid phoned her friend to relay the story, and her friend said that David Poitier had also stayed with her. Realizing that something wasn’t quite right with “David Poitier’s” story, Inger phoned the police. Hampton was arrested on October 18, 1983 for attempted burglary, and given 21 months in prison.
Hampton’s time as an impostor was the basis of the play Six Degrees of Separation, which was made into the 1993 film of the same name, with Will Smith playing the role that is based on Hampton. Hampton remained a conman the rest of his life, having constant run-ins with the law. He died of AIDS related complications at the age of 39 in July 2003.
1. Frank William Abagnale
Come on, you knew this one would be here. Born in 1948 in the Bronx, Frank Abagnale first ran into problems when he stole his father’s credit card and worked out a scam that allowed him to steal money from it. Abagnale’s actions caused tensions in his family’s home, so when he was 16 he left, but he didn’t have any money or an education. To get jobs that paid well, he changed his ID to make himself 10 years older.
Soon Abagnale quit work and started to pass bad checks full time. He quickly realized that the best way to cash a check was to look like a highly respected person, so he posed as an airline pilot. He managed to get the uniform by calling Pan-Am and saying he was a pilot who lost his uniform, and they arranged for him to get a new one. After getting the uniform, in order to collect as much information about Pan-Am as he could, Abagnale pretended that he was a student with a high school newspaper and interviewed a Pan-Am employee. He also made a fake pilot’s license and FAA license. Besides using the pilot persona to cash fraudulent checks, he also got free flights all over the US.
Soon the FBI caught up with him, so Abagnale changed tracks and moved to Georgia, where he posed as a doctor and supposedly held a job at a local hospital. After a year, he moved to New Orleans, where he kind of pretended to be a lawyer. We say kind of because, despite not having even a college education, Abagnale managed to pass the bar exam.
Altogether, Abagnale used eight identities, but was finally arrested in France when he was 21. Over the course of his criminal career, Abagnale stole $2.5 million. He spent six months in a French prison and then six months in a prison in Sweden. He was then extradited back to the United States to face a 12-year sentence. Abagnale tried to escape twice, but was ultimately paroled after five years once he agreed to help the FBI with check forging investigations. From there, he launched his own security company that educated corporations and banks about fraud.
Abagnale published his memoir, Catch Me if You Can, in 1980, which Steven Spielberg made into a film in 2002 with Leonardo DiCapiro starring as Abagnale.
Robert Grimminck is a Canadian freelance writer. You can friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, follow him on Pinterest or visit his website.
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