I’m glad that my story about the two million dollar con is getting such a strong reaction, because I think these scams are a major global problem. I wanted to share a few more incidents to highlight this.
A while ago I wrote about my concerns regarding online and phone scams after I experienced a couple first hand in the British Virgin Islands. One involved a waiter at a restaurant, who was promised he would receive a job with Virgin if he sent $1000 to somebody through a fake website. Sadly he sent the money and I had to tell him he had been conned.
The other case involved a young lad who was working as a cleaner. He came up to me and said “thank you for your get rich quick scheme”. After reading an online offer, he had spoken to a conman posing as an investor on the phone. He sent $300 dollars to the conman and was told it was already worth $450. But before they paid him the $450 back he had to send in another $1000 dollars.
I told him that he was being conned and asked to speak to his contact. Posing as his uncle, I got on the phone to the conman, who was extremely deceptive. I said we would send the $1000 but wanted the $450 back first. They refused to refund the money. Despite me telling this young guy that it was a con, and getting on the phone with the conman in front of him, he still asked me afterwards “shall I send the $1000 dollars?” I had to repeat to him that it was a con!
Finally, a group of conmen have previously posed as a member of our team who organises my charity speaking engagements (you can find the real contact details on virgin.com). Using fake Facebook accounts and email addresses, they have attempted to steal money from people. Each time our legal team would work with Facebook and authorities to shut down the fake accounts and addresses and, luckily, no money was ever extracted.
However, this isn’t always the case. It’s just so sad that vulnerable people who have got very little money are being taken for a ride. This is happening all the time now, to people who can ill-afford it. If I can come across two such cases within a quarter of a mile of where I live, it must be horrendous what is going on a global scale.
Police forces should concentrate more resources on tackling these scams, while journalists should use their investigative skills to expose these types of stories. Meanwhile, you need to report these incidents to help the police to tackle these issues.