A brief history of girls coming forward and claiming they’re Madeleine McCann

This latest case is one of many

This week a girl has gone viral sharing “evidence” she is missing child, Madeleine McCann. But, surprisingly, she isn’t the first. Over the years multiple girls have come forward claiming they’re Madeleine McCann – each with varying levels of reasoning behind their stories.

Some are clearly in it for a bit of TikTok clout, and deleted videos as soon as they went viral and people called them out for it, whereas others, like Julia most recently, truly believe they could be Madeleine – and seem to genuinely want to help with their thoughts.

Madeleine went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3rd 2o07. So, as another case of someone claiming to be her is here, this is a brief history of all the girls who have gone viral claiming they are Madeleine McCann.

Julia, 2023

Girls coming forward and claiming they're Madeleine McCann

via Instagram @iammadeleinemcan

This week a girl has gone viral claiming she’s Madeleine McCann. She set up an Instagram dedicated to proving herself, which has gained over 600k followers, and has shared loads of “evidence”. 

The girl, named Julia, shared her physical similarities to Madeline, as well as parts of her childhood which have left her confused about her identity. Julia said she first started thinking she might have been Madeleine McCann “a few months ago” and said her first childhood memory is being on holiday somewhere hot, with white apartments. Madeleine went missing from her family apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, which is is white.

Julia claimed she has similar spots on her body to Madeleine, has a spot on her leg, and has the same very rare eye condition as Madeleine, Coloboma, among other claims about her parents acting strangely when she asks them about her identity. Her case is so compelling, the McCanns are reportedly having a DNA test carried out.

A girl on TikTok, 2020

via TikTok

In 2020 there was a weird “trend” where people shared if they had ever thought they might have been Madeleine McCann – and loads of girls made videos claiming they could be.

It started with an unnamed girl who shared a video which got over four million views, before it was removed. “My mates joke about me being Madeleine McCann,” she said in the caption. The video then went on to claim the girl was staying in the Praia da Luz area, where three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from, at the same time as the disappearance.

The clip concludes with a picture of Madeleine, compared to a picture of her as a child – where they do like strikingly similar. Madeleine McCann has an eye condition known as a Coloboma, which is extremely rare and means she has a freckle under her pupil – it appears the girl in the TikTok video may have something similar too.

Emily, 2020

Following the unnamed girl’s video, a girl on TikTok called Emily shared her story. She said she has an apartment in Praia da Luz which she and her family have been going to for as long as she can remember. She says she is the same age as Madeleine, and when she was younger her parents were stopped in an airport and asked to prove she wasn’t the missing girl.

Emma, 2020

A girl called Emma shared a childhood picture saying it’s a “popular opinion” that she looks like Madeleine McCann, before asking viewers to share their thoughts. Someone in the comments of the video asked Emma if she had ever considered getting a DNA test.

Harriet, 2017

The first big case of someone making the claims they could be the missing girl was in 2017, when a Leeds student went viral for sharing her beliefs in a group chat. Her best friend Lizzie posted a tweet which went massive, with evidence where Harriet revealed uncannily similar pictures of herself as a baby and Madeleine McCann.

Harriet detailed the distinguishing features which her and Madeleine share, including her eye condition and spot on her leg. Speaking to The Tab at the time, Harriet said she had been looking through old photos of herself when she realised they reminded her of Madeleine McCann.

She said she didn’t really believe it, but when she told her friends they were all shook – and so was Twitter. “I feel like so many people are taking it seriously,” she said.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Inside the wild Instagram account this girl has dedicated to proving she’s Madeleine McCann

• Latest: All the evidence viral girl who thinks she’s Madeleine McCann has shared

• ‘My mother won’t talk about it’: We spoke to the girl who thinks she’s Madeleine McCann