If Keanu has ever declared his love for you over social media, it’s probably not the real deal. And yet many people around the world have reported being conned out of small fortunes by romance scammers posing as the Canadian actor.
In Unmask the Scam, a new anti-scam online series from HomeEquity Bank (HEB), a deepfake version of Keanu proves to viewers that not everything online is what it seems, while also clearing the famous actor's name once and for all. Across three episodes, the digitally simulated Keanu breaks down the inner workings of three unique scams: the Keanu Romance Scam, the Real Estate Scam and the Tech Support Scam.
As a bank that serves Canadian retirees exclusively, HomeEquity Bank has taken an active role in educating its clients on fraud prevention since retirees are frequent targets of scammers. And for Vivianne Gauci, HEB's Senior VP, Customer Experience and Chief Marketing Officer, this issue recently became personal. "I was targeted by a romance scammer pretending to be an A-list celebrity. I knew the signs so I didn’t fall for the scam, but I still can’t get over how real it looked," said Gauci. "Understanding that retired Canadians feel more vulnerable to scams, I knew HomeEquity Bank had a responsibility to help fight this new kind of fraud.”
Romance scams were responsible for the second highest amount of fraud-related dollar loss in Canada in 2022, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reporting 1,056 victims being defrauded out of $59 million. And with 34 percent of homeowners aged 55+ in B.C. and Ontario being single, according to research company YouGov, this cohort is an ideal target.
Launched during Fraud Prevention Month, Zulu Alpha Kilo developed the campaign as a follow up to Catch The Scam – an online anti-fraud series from HEB, developed by Zulu in 2020.
“Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and brazen by the day, so it's critical to combat their scam operations through education,” said Brian Murray, Chief Creative Officer at Zulu Alpha Kilo. “Blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not allowed us to turn that education into entertainment and, ultimately, beat scammers at their own game.”