HomeEquity hires a famous conman to protect people from conmen

Who: HomeEquity Bank, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for creative, Iquanti for media, Zulubot and Levelwing for production, and Frank Abagnale (the real life conman from Catch Me if You Can).

What: “Catch The Scam,” a series of short videos (about three minutes each), featuring Abagnale educating older consumers about the risks of scam artists.

When & Where: Each of the four videos went live Aug. 26 on YouTube and Facebook, with paid digital and social ads promoting the series.

Why: According to HomeEquity, more than half of Canadians 55 and older have been a target of a scam, with one-in-three saying they’ve fallen victim. The problem has also been on the rise during the pandemic, with 91% of Canadians over 55 believing they are more vulnerable to fraud. As a brand closely associated with financial wellbeing of older consumers, HomeEquity felt it could do something about the problem.

“According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians have lost a staggering $5.55 million due to pandemic-related fraud since March,” said Yvonne Ziomecki, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at HomeEquity Bank. “Our hope is that this campaign will provide Canadians the tools they need to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

How: Each video focuses on a different common scam: CRA, romance, lottery and grandparent. Abagnale spends the first minute introducing himself, and explains the growing threat of sophisticated con artists. “You’ll learn how scammers think, prey upon your emotions and ultimately manage to steal over $100 million from Canadians every year, $20 million of that from retirees,” he says. The rest of the videos explain how people can identify scams and how to protect themselves.

“We’re empowering older Canadians with invaluable insights into how to detect and prevent a scam from taking place. In other words, they’ll now be able to fight back and beat these criminals at their own game,” said Ziomecki.

Why Abagnale? After a string of daring scams and frauds as a young adult, Abagnale spent five years in prison. Since his release in the early ’70s, Abagnale has become a anti-fraud and security expert, and worked with the FBI. Of course, in terms of piquing interest, it doesn’t hurt that he was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in a famous Steven Spielberg movie.

Quote: “Creativity can make a dent in real society issues. But putting another public service announcement into the world would only go so far. Ultimately, we set out to blur the lines between education and entertainment.” —Zak Mroueh, chief creative officer of Zulu Alpha Kilo.

David Brown