Sir Richard Branson is so hacked off with cyber-criminals ripping off his name and image that he has released an animated guide to spotting online scams.
The video features two extremely pink cartoon renderings of the Virgin founder who work together to highlight a variety of scamming tactics over a soundtrack that conjures the most daring of James Bond’s espionage escapades.
Fake Branson tries to tempt you into investing in get-rich-quick scams or giving your personal information away to a stranger, while genuine Branson tells you that he and his team would never do that.
By the end of the brief video, the fake Branson is revealed to be a robot, whose head then explodes.
All the fraudulent endorsements and scams mentioned in the video are real tactics that have been used against Branson and his business empire. One such tactic is to send direct messages to people who have posted on Virgin’s social media feeds.
Animated Richard points out: “Scammers are contacting people who post on our social feeds. Even if it’s a verified account, know that I never direct message anyone, nor does my team. I never endorse any get-rich-quick schemes—this is a sure-fire way to lose your investment.”
To step up the fight against scammers, Virgin has opened its own reporting portal at virgin.com/online-scams and urges anyone affected to report any cases featuring Richard or Virgin that seem suspicious.
If you spot anything else you suspect is a scam, Virgin recommends reporting it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime center, via reporting.actionfraud.police.uk.
In 2017, Branson nearly fell prey to a fraudster posing as a UK government official who requested financial assistance to pay the ransom of a supposed kidnapping victim.
The billionaire businessman is not alone in being targeted; according to figures released by the British Office of National Statistics in 2018, cases of fraud, including online scams, cost UK consumers £190bn every year.
“Only trust what we post on our official channels,” says animated Branson.
“Help us stop scammers and report anything you think is suspicious. If you think it’s a con, send it on.”
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