Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says that he is concerned over the growing number of bitcoin scams that use his likeness to promote fraudulent products and investment schemes.
Writing on Virgin’s official blog, Branson wrote that although he has often lauded bitcoin and its potential to disrupt the financial system, it’s “worrying” that so many bitcoin scams claim that he has endorsed their schemes.
“Some of the most regular and worrying fake stories currently spreading online are false endorsements of bitcoin trading schemes,” he wrote. “While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine bitcoin developments, I absolutely do not endorse these fake bitcoin stories.”
These particular scams often take the form of fake news stories, falsely alleging that Branson has endorsed or provided financial backing to a cryptocurrency investment product or company.
In the example above, the creator clearly intends for the reader to believe the article was published by Yahoo, even though the website address will direct users to a different domain.
Of course, the post has other red flags that should tip users off to the scheme, namely the use of the hideous camel case-stylized “BitCoin” and the red Yahoo logo, which the company has not used for more than two decades (though Yahoo Japan still uses a version of it).
Nevertheless, these scams tend to target prospective investors who are less tech-savvy and may not immediately identify these warning signs.
Branson said that the firm’s legal team has dealt with “hundreds of instances” of these scams over the past year alone, adding that the company has also pressured social media platforms to be more proactive about taking these fake stories down.
Cryptocurrency-related scams have become so prevalent that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is sponsoring a workshop next month to help consumers learn how to identify and avoid them. The free event will take place on June 25 at DePaul University in Chicago, and it will also be live-streamed on the FTC’s website.
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