Richard Branson reveals conmen targeted him twice

Branson later managed to speak to Sir Michael's secretary who revealed the call was a hoax

The Virgin Group founder was contacted by someone alleging to be Britain's defense minister, Sir Michael Fallon, who requested financial help to secure the release of a diplomat being held by terrorists.

Branson wrote that six months ago, after an elaborate set-up involving a note on fake government notepaper, he spoke on the phone to someone purporting to be Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

While that attempt failed, another succeeded.

"I thought we would have an interesting conversation about a whole range of issues, and he just spent the whole lunch talking about five people he rung up to try to get help from. and how these people had refused to help him and how his life's mission was to going to be to destroy these people", Branson asserted.

But Sir Richard revealed that one of his friends had fallen victim to a fraudster who pretended to be the Virgin boss.

"A very successful businessperson, they asked me when I would be returning the three week loan I had asked for to help the BVI communities".

"I was asked to contribute $5m of the ransom money, which he assured me the British government would find a way of paying back".

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"They claimed I couldn't get hold of my bank in the United Kingdom because I didn't have any communications going to Europe and I'd only just managed to make a satellite call to the businessman in America", Branson writes.

After he rang Downing Street and asked to be put through to Sir Michael's office he realised the truth. "His secretary assured me that Sir Michael hadn't spoken to me and that nobody had been kidnapped", he wrote.

Sir Richard said: "As I got back online for the first time after the devastating Hurricane Irma in the British Virgin Islands, I received an email from a friend in the US".

Branson said the business associate could not believe how stupid he had been. I had to make a toilet visit so I didn't see what happened next, which was that he leaned over to Jessica and told her, 'Stop staring at me'.

Branson says "the conman did an extremely accurate impression of me", spinning a lie about how he was trying to mobilise aid in the British Virgin Islands and urgently needed a loan.

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".

"What he did in the restaurant was less excusable [but] he apologised for what happened that night, and even said that he gave up drinking for months afterwards". He also urged anyone with information to contact the United States authorities or his "Heist" team at Virgin headquarters in London.

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