British business tycoon Richard Branson spoke out Thursday about the rash of bitcoin scam stories that have used his name to lure victims.
"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," Branson wrote in a blog post.
"While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine bitcoin developments," he continued, "I absolutely do not endorse these fake bitcoin stories."
Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, whose portfolio of over 400 companies includes the airline Virgin Atlantic. He has promoted bitcoin and blockchain technology in the past, including through an annual private island summit of industry participants.
Branson singled out one scam – Bitcoin Trader – in particular. CoinDesk visited a site advertising the scheme, which poses as a CNN Tech article, complete with the outlet's logo and formatting – if not its copy-editing.
"560 Thousand British Quit Their Jobs After Richard Branson Invests Heavily In New Bitcoin Financial Tech." the headline reads, and the fake article is falsely attributed to a real CNN tech writer.
Branson is not the only publicly recognizable figure to warn consumers about scams being perpetrated in his name. Martin Lewis, a British personal finance writer, recently sued Facebook for its failure to take down ads using his image to push scams.
Adding to the growing criticism of social media companies for failing to tackle the problem, Branson wrote Thursday:
Richard Branson image via Shutterstock.
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.