The Virgin boss said that the fraudster sound "exactly" like Sir Michael Fallon and he told them that he was "sympathetic" to his request but wanted to check it was genuine. When he phone his office it was found to be a fraud. He has now said that he regrets not highlighting the first incident as he says it may have alerted others and stopped the second. C omparing the story to The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, Sir Richard said that the first attempted con took place six months ago when his assistant received a note on "what appeared to be official government notepaper" claiming to be from Sir Michael requesting an urgent call.
T he British Billionaire returned the call, he said, continuing: So they were extremely confidentially asking a syndicate of British businesspersons to step in. He told him that he was "sympathetic" but had seen a lot of scams in recent weeks so would need to check the authenticity of the request.
The caller agreed and asked for Sir Richard to send one of his team to Whitehall to talk to Sir Michael's secretary using the code-word "Davenport". H e asked his lawyers to go to Whitehall and then phoned Sir Michael's office, who assured him that the Defence Secretary had not been in touch and there had been no kidnap and the police were informed.
S ix months later as he checked his emails for the first time after Hurricane Irma had devastated the British Virgin Islands BVI , where he lives on Necker Island , he saw an email from a friend - a "very successful businessperson" - who was asking when he would repay the three week loan they had given to help rebuild the community.
The businessman had also received an email, this time from someone claiming to be Sir Richard's assistant, asking to arrange a call. He said that he later spoke to the unnamed man and they quickly realised he had been "duped". Sir Richard said that it was "too sad for words" that his generosity had been preyed upon, adding: H e said that he now regretted not publicising the earlier con attempt, but was cautious because of ongoing investigations.
Calling on anyone who can help to alert the US authorities, Sir Richard warned others to be alert to scams. An MoD spokesman said: We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Click here for instructions. Home News Sport Business. We've noticed you're adblocking. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. Thank you for your support.More...