Richard Branson was almost conned out of $5 million

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Business mogul Richard Branson visited Today and explained a recent blog post in which he detailed being nearly conned out of $5 million. Branson told Matt Lauer, “I got a call from the minister of defense in England, who I know. And he sounded like the minister of defense. And he said that a British diplomat had been kidnapped, and they were not legally allowed — the government wasn’t allowed to put up the money. And they said they needed $5 million from me.”

Luckily, Branson did a little investigating before writing a check and realized it was a scam. Unfortunately, one of Branson’s wealthy friends was not so lucky. Branson said that someone called a businessman friend of Branson’s pretending to be him, saying he was stuck in the British Virgin Islands and wanted $2 million to help the people of the BVI, and could the friend give “Branson” the $2 million. The businessman later asked Branson to reimburse him for the money. It turns out that Branson’s friend may have been duped by the same con man who put on a posh British accent in the earlier case.

Branson summed up his experience on Today: “I think what this says is that, you know, we can afford — businessmen can afford maybe to lose $2 million. But there are millions of people being conned every day now. I mean, it’s frightening.”

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