Sir Richard Branson targeted by fraudster in £4m kidnap scam

Lester Mason
October 19, 2017

Sir Richard Branson has told how a conman masquerading as Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, tried to defraud him out of $5 million.

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has sounded an alarm on con artists who he said have been using the hurricane-struck British Virgin Islands (BVI) as a way to dupe unsuspecting donors out of their money.

The 67-year-old said that six months ago his assistant received a note on what appeared to be official notepaper with a request to call the Defence Secretary.

While that attempt failed, another succeeded.

After Hurricane Irma struck the British Virgin Islands last month, a scammer impersonating billionaire Richard Branson conned $2 million out of a generous USA businessman who believed it was an emergency loan for disaster relief, Branson revealed Tuesday.

A conman posing as the Defence Secretary attempted to swindle nearly £4,000,000 out of Sir Richard Branson.

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

"I called Sir Michael on the number given", Branson wrote.

The person pretending to be Fallon proceeded to tell the Virgin founder that a British diplomat had been kidnapped by terrorists, and that he needed to rescue the individual for "a particular, very sensitive, reason". He believes the two scams are linked.

"This story sounds like it has come straight out of a John le Carré book or a James Bond film, but it is sadly all true", he wrote in a blog post.

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

More recently, following Hurricane Irma, Branson was asked by a "very successful businessman" when he would return the money for the loan Branson had ostensibly asked for to support the communities in the British Virgin Islands.

However, Branson said, his feeling of unease persisted, so he called Fallon's office and upon speaking to his secretary learned that it was clearly a scam. "Branson" reportedly claimed that he was unable to reach his bank in the United Kingdom and was therefore asking the businessman for the loan in the interim. "The business person, incredibly graciously, gave $2 million, which promptly disappeared", Branson explained.

"I spoke to the business person and had to tell him specific details of our last get-together before he was convinced it was really me and not the conman".

Branson later urged his readers to look out for these fraudsters not just online, but over the phone and even in person, and immediately report suspicions to police.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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