Bourgoin, 67, built a reputation as the country’s foremost expert in serial killers, writing more than 75 books and producing dozens of documentaries, before an investigation brought him down.
His standing as an expert in his field meant he was called upon as a guest lecturer for trainees at the French national judiciary police academy and regularly toured the country to give speeches on his experiences.
However, in January an anonymous collective called “4e Oeil” or “4th Eye” uploaded a series of videos on YouTube accusing Bourgoin of lying, and the story quickly became a sensation in France given his public profile. The videos have since been removed from YouTube, but remain on the collective’s official website.
A spokesperson for 4e Oeil told CNN they started investigating Bourgoin in August 2019 after discussing his work in a Facebook group dedicated to criminal cases.
Members of the group had their suspicions that Bourgoin had plagiarized books originally written in English and noticed dates that didn’t match up or inconsistencies from one of his books to another, said the spokesperson.
“His television interviews convinced us that he was truly making it all up,” they told CNN.
Bourgoin has now admitted falsehoods, both in the press and on his personal Instagram account, and CNN has attempted to contact his representatives
“I’m ashamed to have lied, to have hidden things,” he said in an interview with the Le Parisien on Sunday.
“It is true that when I was in the public eye I sometimes happened to embellish, to extrapolate, to exaggerate my importance because I always had the deep feeling of not really ‘being loved.'”
One of the fabrications relates to a woman who was murdered in 1976 in Los Angeles, in the United States.
Bourgoin had said for years it was his wife that was killed, but it was in fact a bartender he had met five or six times.
“It is completely true that I voluntarily concealed her identity,” he said.
Bourgoin also admitted making up a meeting with serial killer Charles Manson and opened up on why he is now confessing.
“This has weighed on me immensely for two, three years,” he said. “Very strangely, there’s the relief of having told the truth, and from the shame, a will to redeem myself, to never again say nonsense like that in public.
The spokesperson for “4e Oeil” told CNN they want Bourgoin to stop working in the field.
“We sincerely doubt that his excuses, even though he has presented them, are indeed sincere,” they said.