Singer Avril Lavigne has been at the centre of conspiracy theories for many years, with people claiming that she secretly died in 2003 and that it was covered it up

Avril Lavigne is probably more famous now for the many conspiracy theories surrounding her than for her music career.

The former teen rocker made a splash as soon as she burst onto the music scene singing about how things were so complicated.

Hits such as Sk8er Boi, Don’t Tell Me and Girlfriend have won her an army of devoted fans all around the world.

But in some corners of the internet, it isn’t her songs getting all the attention.

It’s a bizarre theory that claims the Avril we see on stage, on TV and in magazines isn’t actually the same girl who got her big break as a 17-year-old in 2002.

We take a look at the conspiracy theory that has been been rumbling on for years.

Body double

The story goes that Avril was struggling to cope with all the pressures of finding fame at a young age.

As she grappled with the spotlight, someone came up with the idea of using a body double lookalike to deal with the press attention so that the real Avril could have a break.

This was apparently the mysterious Melissa Vandella, who was said to be the spitting image of the star.

Secretly dead

Conspiracy theorists claim that Avril continued to feel low and that when her grandfather passed away she plunged into a deep depression and took her own life.

Another group of people suspect she might have been killed in a snowboarding accident.

However it happened, the general consensus among conspiracy theorists is that the “real” Avril passed away in 2003.

As her debut album Let Go had been a huge success the decision was apparently made to cover up her death – and let her lookalike keep releasing her music.

And just like that, say the theorists, Melissa became Avril for good.

Theorists claim Avril looks different now

Those who subscribe to the weird theory claim that the differences between the real Avril and the “fake” one are plain to see.

They cite “evidence” like Avril once having skin blemishes that seem to come and go and claim that her nose looks different to how it used to.

A big fuss has also been made of the fact that a website listed the star’s height at 1.58m when she was 17 – and that nowadays if you search for her height online you’ll find she’s shorter than that.

Then there’s also a publicity shot of Avril posing with the name “Melissa” written on her hand in black marker…

In hiding?

Not everyone who buys into the Melissa clone theory thinks that Avril is dead, though.

Some believe the singer was so sick of her fame that she wanted to disappear and live a quiet life.

So they claim Melissa then stepped in full time and that Avril went into hiding somewhere to live her life peacefully with a different identity.

What does Avril think of the rumours?

Avril – who is now 38 – has made it clear she thinks the whole doppelganger thing is crackers.