The man claiming to be Sgt. John Hartley Robertson, a U.S. Army Green Beret presumed dead since 1969, is actually Dang Tan Ngoc, 76, a Vietnamese citizen of French descent with a history of pretending to be U.S. army veterans, the British newspaper The Independent reported Wednesday.
After news of his "discovery" surfaced Tuesday, following production of a documentary film claiming the elderly man living in the Vietnam jungle is Robertson, a memo taken from a 2009 U.S. Defense Department Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office and sent to British news organizations debunked the story, the newspaper said.
The memo says Ngoc first came to the attention of U.S. military personnel in 2006 when he began telling people he was Robertson.
After questioning he admitted he was lying, and in fact Vietnamese. Ngoc engaged in the fraud to exploit the generosity of Vietnam veterans' groups and to collect military back pay, the newspaper said.