Keanu Reeves* warns Canadians about scams

Who: HomeEquity Bank, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for strategy and creative; Zulubot for production (directed by Dane Boaz and Ivan Mallqui); iQuanti for the digital media buy, and Weber Shandwick for PR.

What: “Unmask the Scam,” an online content series for Fraud Prevention Month that identifies some popular online scams and provides practical advice on how to avoid them. It’s a follow-up to the bank’s 2020 “Catch The Scam” series, which featured real-life conman Frank Abagnale.

When & Where: The campaign is comprised of a series of minute-long videos running online and housed at a dedicated microsite.

Why: HomeEquity Bank exclusively services Canadian retirees, a group that is particularly susceptible to online scams. Romance scams in particular are a common tactic, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reporting 1,056 victims being defrauded out of $59 million in 2022.

With 34% of homeowners 55+ in B.C. and Ontario being single, HomeEquity Bank customers can be a particularly appealing target. It’s something that hits particularly close to home for Vivianne Gauci, senior vice-president, customer experience and CMO with HomeEquity Bank, who herself was targeted by a romance scammer posing as 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.”

How: All of the videos feature a deep-fake version of John Wick star Keanu Reeves, outlining each of the three different scams—the romance scam, the real estate scam and the tech support scam—and provides practical advice on how to avoid falling prey to them.

Why Keanu: Reeves has been particularly outspoken on deepfakes, telling Wired early last year that the technology is “scary.” His viewpoint is perhaps not surprising given that his likeness has been used by scammers  multiple times (many of them successful) in recent years.

And we quote: “Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and brazen by the day, so it’s critical to combat their scam operations through education. 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.” —Brian Murray, chief creative officer, Zulu Alpha Kilo.

Chris Powell