Bill Hillar arrested on fraud charges by FBI

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(Photo: ABC7 News)

MILLERSVILLE, Md. — On paper, Bill Hillar is an American hero: a decorated former special forces officer who served in hot spots around the world and went on to earn a PhD. Hollywood was so impressed with him it used the tragic tale of his daughter's kidnapping and murder for the basis of Liam Neeson's character in the film "Taken", in which an ex-CIA officer violently takes on a human trafficking ring to rescue his daughter from sex slavery.

But none of it is true, according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent David A. Rodski. Hillar was never in the army, has no college degree and his daughter is alive and well and was never taken, authorities said.

FBI agents arrested William G. "Bill" Hillar at his Millersville home on Tuesday. When Hillar appeared in federal court in Baltimore later that afternoon, a prosecutor said investigators don't know who he really is.

Who he claimed to be, however is quite clear. According to the FBI affidavit, Hillar's website, now taken down, claimed extensive experience with the U.S. Army in tactical counter-terrorism, explosive ordnance, emergency medicine, psychological warfare and law enforcement ethics. He also claimed to have a bachelor's degree and doctorate from the University of Oregion.

The impressive résumé landed him several speaking engagements, training assignments for public and private workers, and a position teaching at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

That's where the tale began to unravel. Prompted by student compaints, the school began to investigate Hillar's claims. The FBI says Hillar's military records show he served in the Coast Guard reserves from 1962 to 1970 as a radarman, and was not deployed to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, nor Latin America as he claimed, according to the affidavit.

The University of Oregon said Hillar attended the school from 1970 to 1973, but never earned any degree, let alone a doctorate.

Hillar was paid $32,500 by the Monterey Institute, leading the FBI to charge him with executing a scheme to defraud the school.

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