Now authorities are wondering how the boy, who turned up in Berlin nine months ago with his barely conceivable story about living in the woods, had made gullible idiots of them all.

The rogue has been exposed as runaway Robin Van Helsum, a 20-year-old from Hengelo in the Netherlands, reported missing by his family last September, days before he bowled into the German capital city with his story.

He has admitted that he is a fraud,” said Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin Police.

The truth emerged after police released a photograph of the boy, which his school friends, and his stepmother – seemingly his only family – identified.

“We went to him with the new information this morning and he said: ‘OK, you got me – I am Robin and I made the whole story up,” Mr Neuendorf said on Friday.

“It seems he came straight from his home town to Berlin by train and wanted a new life. He didn’t go anywhere near a forest.”

“He hasn’t said why he made up the story or where he came up with the details. But we always had our doubts and now, finally it’s over for us,” said Mr Neuendorf.

Since Ray turned up in Germany, he has been under the care of authorities, receiving money, clothes, housing and education.

He may now be up on charges of fraud.

He told authorities he was alone in the world, and begged for help. He then told police that he knew only that his name was Ray, that he was 17 years old and that he had been living wild with his father Ryan since his mother, Doreen, was killed in a car crash five years earlier.

He claimed to have walked north for five days to reach Berlin after burying his father in a shallow grave when he died following a fall.

Neither DNA tests, nor linguistics studies could shed any light on who he was.

“He is an adult and this is Europe so he can stay in Berlin if he wants but he will no longer be the responsibility of the state,” he said. “At last, we can close the book on this case,” said Neuendorf.



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