A group of Ottawans operating a YouTube comedy channel successfully pranked dozens of people into thinking that music superstar Rihanna took a walk through an Ottawa shopping mall on New Year's Eve.

Rihanna Ayan Ali prank Ottawa Rideau Centre Dec 31 2015

This is Ayan Ali, who posed as Rihanna and took a stroll through a downtown Ottawa shopping mall on New Year's Eve. (YouTube/The Cool Ciyaal)

Ayan Ali arrived at the mall in an expensive car with friends posing as bodyguards, fans, paparazzi and assistants, and it worked.

Dozens of people followed the group through the mall, occasionally managing to snap a photo with fake Ri Ri while the fake bodyguards shouted "Step back."

Here's the video of the prank.

The comedy troupe, who call themselves the Cool Ciyaal (ciyaal is the Somali word for kids), spoke to Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan about the prank on Monday.

"Basically, one of our members on YouTube resembles Rihanna, and she was getting that a lot on the comments section on our channel. So we decided to take that to the streets and see if we could fool Ottawa," said troupe member Kayf Abdulqadir.

"And yeah, the results were crazy."

It took two weeks of preparation to make the prank "as legit as possible," said Hodan Hujaleh, another troupe member.

Twitter reaction to fake Rihanna