Richard Branson targeted by scammers twice

Branson later managed to speak to Sir Michael's secretary who revealed the call was a hoax

Virgin boss, Sir Richard Branson has revealed that a conman posed as the defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon nearly duping Sir Richard out of £3.8m.

The Virgin tycoon said the caller "sounded exactly like Sir Michael" but that when he rang Fallon's office, the defence secretary assured him nobody had been kidnapped and that he had made no request to help with a ransom.

While that attempt failed, another succeeded.

Six months later, conmen struck again, when one of Branson's friends had $2 million stolen from him.

The deceptions were revealed by Sir Richard in his blog yesterday.

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.

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.

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The con artist asked for a contribution of $5 million to a secret fund that the government would find a way of paying back.

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 U.S. 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.

"They told me that they had received an email from somebody claiming they were my assistant, to arrange a call with me".

"When the call happened, the conman did an extremely accurate impression of me and spun a big lie about urgently needing a loan while I was trying to mobilise aid in the BVI (British Virgin Islands)", he wrote.

In a blog post on the Virgin website, Branson detailed how he had received an official-looking letter from Fallon, asking for an urgent call on a sensitive matter. "I had no idea what they were talking about", Branson said. The business person, incredibly graciously, gave $2 million, which promptly disappeared.

Instantly recognisable with his wavy blond hair and beard, Branson is one of Britain's best-known businessmen. "It's a heist of enormous scale", he continued, "and I feel it is likely to be the same person who tried to con me earlier this year".


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