Pamela Landers was surprised that a star like Keanu Reeves would take an interest in her, but it was hard not to be dazzled by his daily declarations of love.
“It was very flattering,” the Playa del Rey resident told me. “It was romantic.”
It was also completely bogus.
“I had to always keep reminding myself after that first two weeks that it’s not real,” said Landers. “People don’t fall in love this way.”
Spoiler alert: She wasn’t really being wooed by one of the world’s biggest celebrities. Landers was a victim of what are known as imposter or 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,” said Christopher Brown, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.
“A scammer pretends to be someone that you trust in order to convince you to send them money or your personal information.”
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 not most victims are too embarrassed to report having been duped.
In Landers’ case, a scammer posing as the “Matrix” star spent weeks expressing his love and winning her trust.
Once the hook was baited, Fake Keanu started reeling Landers in. First he asked her net worth. Then he asked for money — $400,000 for a documentary on the latest “John Wick” movie.
In case you’re wondering, Keanu Reeves is estimated to be worth $380 million. Landers, who works as an accountant, said she asked Fake Keanu why a multimillionaire needed her financial help.
“I never got an answer on that one,” she said.
She also never sent any money. But the texts and declarations of love continued. Romance scammers are nothing if not persistent.
“It was very flattering,” Landers recalled. “It was romantic. I had to always keep reminding myself that it’s not real. People don’t fall in love this way.”
Reeves — the real one — was unavailable for comment. But his publicist had this to say:
“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.
And if you want to hang with a real movie star, turn on Netflix.