The Internet has made it possible to order virtually any item in the exact model, manufacturer and colour you want – even for cars, motorcycles and appliances regardless of geographic location. Escrow sites have made a safe exercise of shopping for these kinds of big-ticket items, because they assure payment and product delivery. But what happens when con-artists and felons lure gullible buyers and suppliers into fabricated escrow sites to carry off their personal financial information, money and products?
Sadly, escrow fraud is a fact of life. Some unscrupulous persons build bogus escrow sites and then pose as purchasers or merchants in order to defraud inexperienced people out of their cash or goods. When an escrow fraudster pretends to be a merchant, he shows an article for sale, and prevails upon the buyer to deposit his money with the fictitious escrow site – often advising him it’s for his own safety. The swindler gets the funds intended for the supplier, and the shopper receives nothing in return.
When masquerading as a buyer, the felon trawls through auction and classified sites to locate an item he wants and pretends to order it. The fraudster requires for the use of the fake escrow site, which transmits to the merchant a message indicating the shopper has sent funds so the supplier ships the goods. The fraudster gets the product and the seller receives nothing in return.
How to spot and avoid bogus escrow sites
Not falling victim to escrow fraud is really simple if you follow a few essential rules:
1. Be familiar with several reputable and legitimate escrow sites before conducting any transactions online
2. Be wary of a consumer/supplier insistent on using a specific escrow site you are not familiar with (some use an army of sites to bewilder wary shoppers/suppliers)
3. Be watchful with escrow sites that are poorly designed, look inadequate, contain many spelling or grammar mistakes, and/or don’t furnish adequate information about proper use of the site or who operates it. Reliable escrow firms put in a lot of time and money to establish quality sites.
4. STAY AWAY FROM an escrow site whose URL (web address) doesn’t start with “https://” – the “s” is important; it implies a secure site with 128 bit encryption technology. An unsecure escrow site is most likely phony.
5. Be vigilant with escrow sites with suspiciously low escrow fees. Low escrow fees are sometimes used to attract people in.
6. NEVER send funds using untrackable money wire firms, like Western Union or Money Gram.
7. NEVER deposit escrow funds to an individual or agent. Legitimate firms will allow you only to deposit funds with a corporation that is licensed to facilitate escrow transactions.
What to do if you suspect an escrow site as fraudulent
Here are a few things you can do to confirm whether an escrow site is above board:
1. Do an internet search using the company name as keywords. If search results reveal only the escrow site, it’s probably an illegitimate site.
2. Look for the company’s domain name in a WHOIS database. If registration was done only recently or the contact information cannot be confirmed, steer clear of the site.
3. Verify if the company is authorised and who the licensing authority is. Then look up the licensing authority and validate the registration numbers provided. Ensure that the registration number matches with the company. Look well at the licensing authority’s own site. If it displays any of the red flags for fraudulent sites, assume that this site is phony – and so is the escrow company it licensed.
4. If an escrow site purports to be affiliated with Ebay, Yahoo! or a similar company, check the relationship from the alleged affiliate.
5. Any escrow site that purports functions as an extension of a larger, better-known escrow firm is probably not legitimate. Well-known escrow firms rarely operate in this way.
What to do if you fall victim to a fraudulent escrow site
If you have been defrauded by a fraudulent escrow site, you should report the site to authorities immediately and respond with dispatch to protect yourself against identity theft.
In the United Kingdom, you can report Internet and escrow fraud to the Metropolitan Police
In the U.S., you can report fraud through your local police, the Secret Service, and/or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
If the fraudulent transaction occurred in connection with Ebay, Yahoo!, Craig’s List or a similar site, you should report the incident to that company as well as the police.
You can also report the website to the company with which the website is hosted and ask them to close the website.
For reporting identity theft in the United Kingdom, visit the Metropolitan Police website.
In the U.S. report identity theft with Federal Trade Commission.
Staying on the safe side
The proven method to stay away from an online escrow scam is to use a well-known and reliable escrow firm, such as PayPrimo.com. PayPrimo is a licensed and authorised escrow corporation with a reputation for reliability. The PayPrimo site is simple to use, has various modes of traceable payment options, and utilises at least 128-bit encryption security for your protection.
PayPrimo provides premier online escrow services. With PayPrimo you get a comprehensive range of features for completing any kind of escrow transaction. You can read more about the best online escrow service here. For further information about online escrow visit PayPrimo’s website.
Author: jamesdstewart155This author has published 5 articles so far. More info about the author is coming soon.