SoCal woman believed she was being courted by Keanu Reeves online, until the millionaire movie star requested money.
“To this day, this morning, I received — yesterday and today — eight texts from this Keanu Reeves guy … I have emails and chats and texts and pictures and stuff that, I dare any girl to read these and not believe it’s true. They go right to your heart,” said Playa del Rey resident Pamela Landers.
Landers wasn’t really being wooed by one of the world’s biggest movie stars. She fell for imposter and impersonation scams.
The Keanu Reeves scam is a relatively recent version of this racket — and one so effective, victims have reported being conned by it both nationwide and around the world.
“Impersonation scams come in a number of varieties, whether that’s government impersonation or business impersonation, relative impersonation or online love interest, otherwise known as romance scams,”Christopher Brown, an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission, said this.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 150,000 romance scams have been reported to the FTC — likely just a fraction of the total. Many, if any, victims are embarrassed to report that they were duped.
“A scammer pretends to be someone that you trust in order to convince you to send them money or your personal information,”Brown stated.
That’s how it worked with Landers, who says Fake Keanu spent weeks expressing his love and winning her trust.
Fake Keanu reeled in Landers after the hook was set. First, he wanted to know her net worth. Then he asked for money — $400,000.
In case you’re wondering, Keanu Reeves is estimated to be worth $380 million. Landers, who is an accountant, claimed that Fake Keanu asked her why multimillionaires needed her financial support.
“I never got an answer on that one,”She said.
Although she never sent any money, the messages and declarations of her love went on. Romance scammers can be persistent, but they are not easy to spot.
“Keanu Reeves, if you’re watching this, I know it’s not you. I hope everyone knows it’s not you,” Landers said.
Reeves — the real one — was unavailable for comment, but his publicist said in a statement that “Keanu Reeves does not participate in ANY form of social media, nor has he ever done so in the past or plan to do so in the future. If anyone tries to contact you via social media claiming to be him, it is a FRAUD.”
The FTC advises that you cut off all communication with an online Romeo or Juliet the second you’re asked for money.
Landers warns that this can be hard, especially for those who are lonely or who might be excited by the thought of being wooed and adored by celebrities.
Even now – now that she knows it was all a ruse — Landers still looks back on the first few weeks of Fake Keanu’s attentions with a sense of excitement.
“It was very flattering. It was, it was romantic … I had to always keep reminding myself after that first two weeks that it’s not real. People don’t fall in love this way. It just doesn’t happen,”She said.
The trick works. According to the FTC alone, romance scam victims lost $2.5 billion last year More than half a million dollars.
“If you’re in any way feeling emptiness in some part of you, they’re gonna find it. They found it with me,” Landers said.