The actor Keanu Reeves is not often at the center of controversy given that he’s an unproblematic Hollywood actor. He’s sure to be at the top of many people’s celebrity crush list. Which is why he’s so often impersonated online—he’s highly likable, and his fans are perfect targets for scams involving his name. Who wouldn’t be flattered to be contacted by their celebrity crush over social media?
Right now, criminals pretending to be Keanu Reeves are befriending people who enjoy games like Words with Friends or follow fan Instagram accounts for the actor. A Google search for “Keanu Reeves scam” shows that women around the globe in Canada, Taiwan, and across the U.S. have reported being wooed into thinking he was courting them—and that he needed financial help.
This problem is not exclusive to Keanu’s likeness either. Celebrity scams are growing in prevalence.
The scam starts with the imposter reaching out to a fan and gaining their trust by pretending to take an interest in them. Soon, their questions become more personal, and they try to steal personal information. Once the scammer has built rapport, they ask for money—making false claims that the star is secretly broke or inviting their victims to expensive false events saying the tickets have big price tags.
The victims lose money, privacy and walk away feeling hurt and mislead. Unfortunately, cyber criminals get smarter and more advanced all the time with their deceptive practices. They know exactly what to say to trick an unsuspecting person.
Here are some hints to help you sniff out the imposters:
- Look for a blue checkmark to make sure the account is verified. Don’t believe any stories or claims they make up about why the account is not verified, such as that it’s a private account the star keeps secret from management.
- Google search the celebrity’s name with the word “scam” to see if other users have posted about imposter scams involving the account.
- The account holder’s name is spelled wrong, like “Jeniffer Lopez,” or has unusual punctuation, such as “Will.Smith.TV."
- The account holder asks you for money or gift cards.
Never give out personal information over social media, or to someone you’ve only met online. If you do get caught in a scam, remember to make us your first call.
To protect yourself from a celebrity scam:
- Don’t engage with a supposed celebrity on an unverified social media account, even if they don’t initially ask for money. Criminals are patient and will invest as much time as needed to gain your trust.
Report online celebrity imposters to the relevant social network. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have procedures for reporting bogus accounts.