German ‘Forest Boy’ Convicted of Fraud
Sentenced to community service
Germany’s former “forest boy” was sentenced to 150 hours of community service Thursday after admitting to fraud. Robin van Helsum, 21, was found guilty of claiming to be an English-speaking orphan named Ray who had survived for five years in the woods of central Europe.
Not to be confused with Russia’s recent “forest boy,” Van Helsum showed up at a Berlin town hall in 2011, speaking broken English and claiming to be an orphan. He told authorities that his mother had died in a car accident and that he had been living in the woods with his father.
German authorities sheltered van Helsum for eight months, treating him to numerous benefits including money, clothes, and medical treatment. He was finally exposed in June 2012 after German police began circulating his photo. Van Helsum turned out to be a Dutch native with an illegitimate child waiting back in his hometown of Hengelo. He claimed that he had simply wanted to start a new life.
Court spokesman Tobias Kaehne told the Daily Mail that van Helsum can avoid a criminal record if he agrees to the community service order. “If he fails to carry out the work it will come to a trial and probably a conviction,” said Kaehne. “But as it stands now he will not have a record going into the future.”