British entrepreneur Richard Branson has spoken out over the “worrying” spread of bitcoin scam stories and ads. Some of the most common are false endorsements and fake binary trading schemes, he warns. Advising everyone to remain vigilant, Branson suggests that users should report fake stories to the platforms which have published them.
Billionaire Linked To “Get-Rich-Quick” Schemes
Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson, has voiced his concerns over the “worrying” rise in bitcoin-related online scams involving his name. “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,” he says in a blog post titled “Beware of Fake Bitcoin Scams.”
Some of the most regular and worrying fake stories currently spreading online are false endorsements of bitcoin trading schemes, Branson explains in the piece published on Virgin’s corporate website. “While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine bitcoin developments, I absolutely do not endorse these fake bitcoin stories,” he states.
Branson also notes that the fake articles often have titles involving “quitting your job and yours truly investing in bitcoin financial tech”. The sites which publish them impersonate well known news outlets, such as CNN, to make them look legitimate, he warns.
“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,” Richard Branson complains.
Sir Branson Advises Vigilance
The British magnate informs his readers that his legal teams are working hard to take down the fake stories and deal with companies misrepresenting him and his businesses. “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,” he says.
Branson’s Lawyers have also contacted the social networks where the fake stories are being spread: “[We] urge them to take the stories down and do more to proactively stop them appearing in the first place.”
Richard Branson is not alone in this effort. Recently, British personal finance guru Martin Lewis vowed to take Facebook to court over fake ads featuring his photo, which have published on its platform. He accused the popular social media site of lack of vigilance in regards to fake accounts and adverts from scammers.
In his post, Branson advises everyone to remain vigilant: “Check you are only clicking through to legitimate sites, with official website addresses and verified social media accounts.” He also suggests that people verify if the story about him they are reading originates from an official Virgin website.
“All of my social networks are verified with blue ticks, so you can tell it is really me communicating with you,” he adds, posting links to his profiles. The entrepreneur recommends reading sources like Citizens Advice for tips on how to avoid online scams. He also urges users to report fake stories to the platforms where they have found them.
Since the beginning of the year, the social networks Facebook and LinkedIn, the search engines Google and “Яндекс” (Yandex), and the microblogging platform Twitter have banned advertising of cryptocurrencies and related projects on their platforms.
Representatives of crypto communities around the world have protested the measures claiming they hurt legitimate businesses. Crypto and blockchain associations and businesses from Russia, China, South Korea, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, and Armenia plan to file this month a class action lawsuit against internet corporations over banned crypto ads.
What measures should social media networks take to prevent spreading fake stories and scams related to Bitcoin without hurting legitimate businesses? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Virgin.
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