J.K. Rowling is the latest celebrity to fall victim to a pair of infamous Russian scammers.
Rowling, 56, was had by the Russian ‘comedy duo’ Vovan and Luxus who impersonated Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, on a Zoom call. The Harry Potter author was particularly susceptible to the fraud because she has a charity that offers relief to Ukrainian children suffering as a result of the Russian invasion.
Vovan and Luxus have previously gone after Elton John, Prince Harry, Billie Eilish, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and George W. Bush, among others.
Video from their call with Rowling was posted on YouTube and first discovered by Rowling fan site The Rowling Library.
Remaining ‘camera off’ for the majority of the call, the hucksters made a number of cringe-worthy remarks referencing the Harry Potter novels. They told Rowling that Harry’s lightning bolt scar resembled the “Z” that the Russian military has emblazoned on its tanks and asked that she instead change the scar to resemble a Ukrainian trident. “I will look into that,” she told the pranksters. “It might be good for me to do something with that myself on social media because I think that will get into the newspapers.”
Even more awkward and unsettling, Vovan and Luxus asked Rowling if Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore is in fact gay, as she has stated, and also inquired who he had slept with. “Hopefully not with a transgender,” the impostors said. They also told Rowling that the Ukrainian military has been writing the words “Avada Kedavra” — known as the “killing curse” in the wizarding world — on their missiles.
Referring to Rowling’s Lumos charity which has been helping vulnerable children and families in the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine, the pranksters told Rowling, “I want to clarify where you are sending the money that Lumos has collected. … We want to buy a lot of weapons and missiles with your money to destroy Russian troops, I hope you are all for that.” In response, Rowling said, “We’ll look after the kids, but I really want Ukraine to have all of the arms it needs.”
Vovan and Luxus did turn on their camera at one point during the interview, revealing a trio of people they called “The Order of the Ukrainian Phoenix” who wore t-shirts saying “Only Putin” in Russian. “We read Harry Potter to the soldiers in the battalion. … Just don’t read them passages about half-breeds [as] they are nationalists and do not like such people,” they said.
Rowling’s spokesperson condemned the hoax as “distasteful” in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “J.K. Rowling was approached to talk about her extensive charitable work in Ukraine, supporting children and families who have been affected by the current conflict in the region,” the rep said. “The video, which has been edited, is a distorted representation of the conversation.”
Given that Vovan and Luxus usually target celebrities critical of the Russian government, some speculate they are state actors.