Beware of fake bitcoin scam stories

A cartoon image showing Richard Branson standing opposite three people pretending to be him by wearing fake beards and wigs
Image from Virgin.com
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Published on 2 May 2018

I have written several times warning people about the growing problem of fake stories online linking me to get-rich-quick schemes, fake pages, misleading ads, false endorsements and fake binary trading schemes.

Black and white photo of Richard Branson reading on Necker Island
Image by Owen Buggy

Some of the most regular and worrying fake stories currently spreading online are false endorsements of bitcoin trading schemes. While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine bitcoin developments, I absolutely do not endorse these fake bitcoin stories.

Virgin has now opened its own reporting portal at http://virgin.com/online-scams and we urge anyone affected to report any cases featuring me or Virgin that seem suspicious. To make things more clear, we’ve made an animated guide to help people to identify the threats and avoid the scams.

The scams often have titles involving quitting your job and yours truly investing in bitcoin financial tech. The sites often impersonate well known news outlets, such as CNN for example, to make them seem more legitimate. You may come across these sites via links advertised on various social media sites and paid for ads. They link through to scam sites like Bitcoin Trader, and also feature fake endorsements by the likes of Bill Gates alongside myself.

Our legal teams work hard to take down these fake stories or companies misrepresenting us. In the last year we’ve dealt with hundreds of instances. We are doing all we can and the police also work tirelessly to shut down the major operations. We also contact the social networks where the fake stories are being spread and urge them to take the stories down and do more to proactively stop them appearing in the first place.

We would advise everyone to remain vigilant. Check you are only clicking through to legitimate sites, with official website addresses and verified social media accounts. A simple check to do is to see if the story you are reading comes from an official Virgin website. My blog is here, on virgin.com, and all of my social networks are verified with blue ticks, so you can tell it is really me communicating with you.

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You can read sources such as Citizens Advice for tips on how to avoid online scams. When you see a fake story, please report it to the platform you have found it on.