Christophe Rocancourt conned his way into millions of dollars under a variety of aliases. He claimed that he was the son of Dino De Laurentiis, and also that he was a French Rockefeller. His lies eventually caught up with him, and he served time in Canada for his crimes.
Con artist Christophe Rocancourt, also known as Christopher Rocancourt, was born on July 16, 1967, in the small city of Honfleur, France. His father was an alcoholic house painter named Daniel Rocancourt, and his mother a 17-year-old prostitute named Annick Villers. The couple married a month before Christopher was born. Rocancourt's parents welcomed a daughter in 1968, and the family lived together in a cramped mobile home. According to Christophe's later accounts, Annick often left the children home alone while she was engaging in prostitution with her sister.
In 1969, Rocancourt's parents separated after his sister died during childbirth. Christophe's father left the family to find work in Belgium, believing that Annick was cheating on him. After Annick abandoned the children as well, Christophe and his sister were left with their grandparents in a two-room hovel that had no running water or electricity. His father returned from Belgium when Christophe was 5, and began dating Christophe's aunt. When she also abandoned Christophe and his family, Daniel left the children at an orphanage in Saint-Germain-Village. His father later froze to death on the street, when Christophe was in his 20s.
Petty Crimes and Cons
In July 1979, after three years at the orphanage, Christophe was adopted by a family who lived outside Le Neubourg. His adoptive father was a stiff disciplinarian, which the young boy resented. After several attempts at escape, Christophe fled to Paris at the age of 18. There, he began committing forgery and petty thievery under the identity of a wealthy Russian nobleman, Prince de Galitzine. The con fooled no one, but he was incarcerated multiple times. At the age of 23, Rocancourt claimed he committed his first big act of fraud: forging a deed for a Paris building, then selling it for $1.4 million.
Fleeing police after he had been accused of a jewelry heist, Rocancourt headed to the U.S. In 1991, at the age of 24, Rocancourt had settled in Los Angeles, where he began living under various aliases and rubbing elbows with Hollywood elites. Among his aliases was a claim to be Christopher De Laurentiis, the nephew of film producer Dino De Laurentiis and the son of Sophia Loren.
But it was his time as the Christopher Rockefeller, while staying in the Hamptons, that landed him in the most trouble. Thinking he was a Rockefeller, the moneyed elite flocked to Christophe, begging him to invest their fortunes for them. Christophe complied, pretending he could double everyone's money in less than two weeks, as long as they supplied him with a cash advance. Then he pocketed the money and fled to Canada, where he was finally apprehended—but only after he swindled an elderly couple out of an additional $100,000 while pretending he was a racecar driver.
Prison and Future Success
Rocancourt served time in 2003 in Los Angeles. While he was in prison, he wrote a bestseller: I, Christopher Rocancourt, Orphan, Playboy, Prisoner. The deal for a second book, Christopher Rocancourt, My Lives, was signed within days of his return to France. He also sold the rights to his name on a clothing line, Rocancourt Jeans. Rocancourt later told reporters he made an estimated $40 million on his crimes. The judge ordered Rocancourt to repay more than a million dollars to his victims but prosecutors think there's only a small chance that his victims will ever get full restitution.
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