Did Richard Branson just call Bitcoin a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’?

Virgin boss appears to take a swipe at cryptocurrency in video release aimed at tackling online fraud

Richard Branson appears to have labelled Bitcoin a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’.

The 69-year-old British billionaire businessman has seemingly taken aim at cryptocurrency in a newly released series of videos targeting scams.

In one clip, an animated Sir Richard explains how difficult it can be to spot a financial con before a swag bag emblazoned with a Bitcoin logo appears in the scene, held aloft by a Branson doppelganger.

“There’s nothing risky about me,” assures the cartoon impostor.

“These cryptocurrencies are a safe bet – you should invest!”

The real Richard Branson steps in, declaring “I never endorse any get-rich-quick schemes” before slashing the bag open.

As the contents cascade to the floor, the London-born Virgin boss points down and advises: “This is a sure-fire way to lose your investment.”

The series of videos is part of an attempt by the philanthropist father-of-four to respond to a catalogue of online frauds which have used fake images of the tycoon to endorse their phoney products.

Bogus Bransons

Labelled ‘Beware of bogus Bransons’, the guides are designed to tackle the rise of online fraud – a particular bane of the cryptocurrency industry which has already been rocked by the $4bn OneCoin scam and, more recently, the BitClub Network scam which is currently under investigation by the FBI.

The BitClub Network's Jobadiah Weeks pictured with Sir Richard Branson in 2016

The BitClub Network’s Jobadiah Weeks pictured with Sir Richard Branson in 2016

By coincidence, one of a group of BitClub Network bosses – 38-year-old Jobadiah Sinclair Weeks of Colorado – was pictured with Sir Richard Branson in 2016. The photo was then used by Weeks to ‘endorse’ the alleged scam.

Branson’s image, like many other celebrity business people, has been used by fraudsters across the internet for years – often with a battered and bruised face from a bike accident in 2016.

Scammers play on the good reputation of successful and well-respected entrepreneurs in a bid to lure people into believing a scheme is being backed by someone they trust.

However, Branson himself is now spearheading a campaign to tackle fraud head-on with his videos.

Before apparently slamming Bitcoin, the twice-married magnate and adventurist urges people not to respond to social media messages or investment opportunities that feature his name and image.

“Even if it’s a verified account with a blue tick, know that I never direct message anyone – nor does any of my team,” he says.

“At Virgin, we’re working hard to unmask scammers.

“Only trust what we post on our official channels. 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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