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Perhaps most notorious was his stint aboard a Canadian naval vessel during the Korean War. He couldn’t resist posing for a photo after he was eventually unmasked.AP Photo

“The Great Imposter”

In the ultimate example of “fake it till you make it,” Ferdinand Demara boarded the HMCS Cayuga, a Canadian Navy destroyer during the Korean War, impersonating a doctor, which was fine until the ship started taking on more serious casualties and Demara was left as the ship’s only “surgeon”.

Ferdinand Demara, or “the Great Imposter” as he came to be known, has a very impressive resume — the only thing it lacks is his real name. Under a series of stolen identities Demara worked as a civil engineer, a zoology graduate, a doctor of applied psychology, a monk on two separate occasions (Trappist and Benedictine), an assistant warden at a Texas prison, philosophy dean at a Pennsylvania college, a hospital orderly, a lawyer and a teacher — among other professions. In 1957, he was described as an “audacious, unschooled, but amazingly intelligent pretender who always wanted to be a Somebody, and succeeded in being a whole raft of Somebody Elses.”

Perhaps his most impressive impersonation came during the Korean War while impersonating a doctor on a Royal Canadian Navy Destroyer. When several Korean combat casualties were brought on board, the responsibility of saving their lives fell to Demara, the ship’s sole “surgeon.” Demara, who allegedly possessed a photographic memory and unusually high IQ, ducked into his quarters with a medical textbook and emerged to save the lives of every single man, including one who required major chest surgery. News of his heroics eventually unmasked him, and the resulting media attention ultimately prevented him from continuing his fraudulent lifestyle. Impersonation is considerably more difficult when the entire country knows your face.

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Bit of a Difference

NZ Herald

Does anyone else find it strange that hte Herald and cub reporter David Fisher fawns all over a convicted embezzler and insider-trading, currently facing more charges fat, jolly, German fellow and his every utterance but maintains open hostility to another Kiwi citizen who so far remains un-charged for any crime and yet has all his assets frozen.

Every time the German fratboy goes to court to get his assets unfrozen the media laps it, yet when Mark Hotchin goes to court they snarl and snap.

Comparing the the two cases becomes very Fawlty Towers-esque…especially with the wife. Whatever you do don’t mention the wh….