Virgin Air founder Sir Richard Branson warned about investing in dubious bitcoin trading schemes in a blog post on May 3, 2018. He advised people to not believe or invest their hard earned money in a cryptocurrency trading scheme that sounds too good to be true. There have also been several instances in the past where misleading advertisements posted online have shown the billionaire endorse such projects.
‘Do not Believe in such Scams’
The English business magnate repeatedly warned about the pitfalls of investing in get-rich-quick schemes. These advertisements generally try to lure amateur investors to dish out their money by painting a colorful background of the past returns of bitcoin.
Richard Branson said, “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.”
The fake stories are placed alongside articles of genuine news outlets or on their homepages to make them appear more authentic. These links then redirect to scam sites such as Bitcoin Trader which are shown to be endorsed by other notable personalities.
Twitter Has also Been Targeted by Scammers
Elon Musk’s tweets were also targeted by fraudulent accounts promising bitcoin giveaways in exchange for an entry fee. Musk’s tweets would be replied to by several accounts impersonating him with the same name and profile picture. Such scammers often operate multiple Twitter accounts that retweet and like such tweets to boost their perceived legitimacy.
Reporting such tweets to Twitter was mostly ineffective as they would return from a new account. The Independent reported that:
“The rapid rise of digital currencies is leading many criminals to trick innocent people out of their newly valuable assets. And perhaps the most high-profile of them is a scam that sees people pretend to be famous people offering digital money, but actually stealing it from anybody who replies.”
Twitter announced that it would take steps to prevent further such instances in the future. “We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner,” read an announcement from the social media company.
Vitalik Buterin grew so frustrated with fake impersonators promoting giveaway scams using his online identity that he changed his name on Twitter from ‘Vitalik Buterin’ to “Vitalik ‘Not giving away ETH’ Buterin.”
Facebook Ban on Crypto Advertising
In a policy update announcement on its website on January 31, 2018, social media giant Facebook announced that it would impose a blanket ban on all advertisements related to financial instruments, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and binary trading in the cryptocurrency ecosystem across its platform.
The statement read, “We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception.” The company added, “the enforcement will begin to ramp up across our platforms including Facebook, Audience Network, and Instagram.”
Within the months that followed, Twitter and Google also announced their platform-wide bans against digital currency-related advertisements.