A Southern California woman thought she was being wooed online by Keanu Reeves until a request for $400,000 was made by the movie star.
“To this day, this morning, I received—yesterday and today—eight texts from this Keanu Reeves guy,” Pamela Landers of Playa del Rey told KTLA. “I have emails and chats and texts and pictures and stuff that, I dare any girl to read these and not believe it’s true. They go right to your heart.”
After spending weeks talking to who she thought was the John Wick actor, Landers realized that she wasn’t actually being courted by Reeves, rather she was a victim of an imposter or impersonation scam—an online trend that has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
“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,” Christopher Brown, an attorney for the FTC, told KTLA.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 150,000 romance scams have been reported to the FTC, which is likely just a fraction of the total as victims are often too embarrassed to admit they were conned. Last year, reported losses due to romance scams hit a record $547 million, according to the FTC.
But Landers isn’t the only person who thought Reeves had the hots for them. In fact, 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 Reeves was courting them—and that he was in need of financial help. A woman in her 70s was planning to move to Los Angeles so she could be closer to Reeves before realizing she was getting scammed, the Los Angeles Times reported in September.
Landers’ situation started out with fake Reeves trying to gain her trust and affection. Once the bait was hooked, the scammer asked her what her net worth was before then requested $400,000. Landers, who works as an accountant, couldn’t help but wonder why a multimillionaire—who is estimated to be worth $380 million—needed her financial help.
“I never got an answer on that one,” she told KTLA.
Thankfully, Landers never sent any money, but the texts and declarations of love continued.
“Keanu Reeves, if you’re watching this, I know it’s not you. I hope everyone knows it’s not you,” Landers told KTLA.
The real Reeves wasn’t available for comment, but his publicist told KTLA in a statement that the actor “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.”
He’s also been in a relationship with his longtime friend, Alexandra Grant, since 2018.
The FTC advises people to cut off all communication with online romantic interests the moment that they ask for money. But Landers recognizes that not everyone can exit these situations before they are swindled.
“It was very flattering,” Landers said, looking back on the weeks of fake Reeves’ attention. “It was romantic… I had to always keep reminding myself after [those] first two weeks that it’s not real. People don’t fall in love this way. It just doesn’t happen.”
“If you’re in any way feeling emptiness in some part of you, they’re gonna find it,” she said teary eyed. “They found it with me.”