The internet can be a wonderful place for sharing, engaging and learning. But it can also be a dangerous place if you don’t use it safely and carefully – especially as online scams are on the rise.
At Virgin we are concerned that more and more people are being scammed by fraudsters impersonating Richard Branson, our senior management team and Virgin Group companies. Online scams can seem very convincing and come in many different forms.
Scammers often send messages to individuals or companies over social media or email pretending to be Richard Branson, CEO Josh Bayliss, COO Ian Woods or another member of our senior team in an attempt to extract personal information or cash from them. They also use Richard Branson’s name and photo to falsely endorse get-rich-quick schemes
Recently, followers who post on Richard’s social media feeds have been specifically targeted in private channels by people impersonation accounts.
Richard Branson’s official social media accounts are all verified and he does not use these to send direct or private messages to his followers. Nor does Richard send personal email messages regarding investments, charity donations or speaking engagements from these accounts or any others. If you are contacted by somebody who you suspect is pretending to be Richard, a member of our senior management team or any other Virgin employee please report it via this link.
Stories linking Richard to get-rich-quick opportunities such as cryptocurrency schemes often appear on websites via links advertised on various social media sites and paid for ads. There is no truth in these stories. Richard and the Virgin Group do not promote get-rich-quick schemes. If you see one of these stories or adverts please report it here.
Our team are doing all they can to report scammers and get fake sites taken down as soon as possible. We have dealt with hundreds and hundreds of instances and tackle more every week, working with the police to shut down major operations and urging social networks to do more to stop the scams before they appear online.
But, sadly, the scams are not going to disappear overnight. When you see a fake story, please report it to the platform you have found it on. Please remain vigilant, only click through to legitimate sites, with official website addresses and verified social media accounts.
To find out more about scams and to report fraud in the UK go to Action Fraud.