Richard Branson reveals conmen targeted him twice

Joann Johnston
October 18, 2017

"He told me that British laws prevented the government from paying out ransoms, which he normally completely concurred with", Branson said in a blog describing the attempted scam.

"They claimed I couldn't get hold of my bank in the United Kingdom because I didn't have any communications going to Europe and I'd only just managed to make a satellite call to the businessman in America".

He said that while the government did not pay ransoms, there was a particularly sensitive reason why the diplomat had to be saved, and the government was confidentially asking a syndicate of British business people to step in.

He wrote: 'His secretary assured me that Sir Michael hadn't spoken to me and that nobody had been kidnapped.

'I was asked to contribute 5 million dollars of the ransom money, which he assured me the British Government would find a way of paying back'.

He urged asked anyone with any information about the scam to speak to U.S. criminal authorities or get in touch with Virgin.

Appealing for information to help identify the conman, Branson said he suspected the same person had later impersonated him to steal $2 million from a friend of his by pretending to raise funds for people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Sir Richard then spoke with somebody who "sounded exactly like Sir Michael".

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Branson wrote that in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which he braved out on his island, Necker, he received a call from a friend in the United States who asked when he will return the three-week loan he had asked for to help communities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). "It was clearly a scam", Branson today told the public via social media.

"They told me that they had received an email from somebody claiming they were my assistant, to arrange a call with me". I had no idea what they were talking about.

"They claimed I couldn't get hold of my bank in the United Kingdom because I didn't have any communications going to Europe and I'd only just managed to make a satellite call to the businessman in America".

In the same blog post, Branson detailed how a "very successful businessperson" friend of his had not been as careful.

He said that he later spoke to the unnamed man and they quickly realised he had been "duped".

Branson said the business associate could not believe how stupid he had been.

He further explained: "There has been a big rise in fake ad scams online recently, and I'd urge everyone to look out for them and report any you see".

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