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 Post subject: Tips for Avoiding the Fraudulent Escrow Scams
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2003 12:44 pm 
Hello All:

On our site, we have created a world class article about cahsier's check fraud showing photos of actual fake checks, along with photos of fake escrow sites and how to determine if they are fake, along with tons of tips. The article can be read at:

Here are some of our tips for avoiding fraudulent esrow scams

Always consider every escrow company to be fraudulent until you have checked them out and proven them to be real.

Always trust your gut feeling. If you get a bad feeling about something, trust you instincts, don't do the deal. Others will come along later.

If a seller ever tells you to use a particular escrow service, be afraid. Be very afraid! All sorts of red flags should go up in your brain.

Be extremely suspicious about any car that is priced well below similar models for sale. If that Porsche Boxster is $15,000 cheaper than all the others, it's could be a phony scam sale. They use these lower prices to reel you in.

The person you are dealing with offers to pay the shipping and insurance. Come on, use your head! When was the last time anyone on eBay offered to pay shipping for you? Give me a break.

Look for the eBay "Changed ID" icon next to the seller's ID name. If they changed ID in the last 30 days, don't deal with them. Who the hell changes their ID on eBay?

Anytime someone emails you to say "I used this escrow service many times!" You should be skeptical. How often does someone really need the services of an escrow company? Give me a break...

A Real escrow company would never tell you to wire them money via Western Union. Western Union transfers CASH from one WU location to another, not to a real and traceable bank account! DUH! The only time you should be using Western Union is to bail your drunk loser of a brother out of jail. A real escrow company would tell you to use YOUR bank to wire money to THEIR bank, with their routing number and account number. There is a form you fill out and it must show who their beneficial bank is. You must still verify with your bank where the receiving bank account is REALLY located for their bank account before you wire, it could be a bogus account in Nigeria.

Remember that the odds are 9 to 1 against you finding a legitimate online escrow service.

Try to close your deal in person if possible. For example, if you just saved $5,000 on the car, spend $300 on a plane ticket to go see it.

Don't buy a car from a foreign "seller" online. Go get the car yourself, or don't close the deal. The heck with escrow. Foreign purchase transactions are for seasoned veterans, not you. There are too many complicated import laws and DOT safety and emissions hurdles for you to deal with.

Avoid dealing with any escrow company that has a dash in the name, like We saw maybe 2 out of 300 sites that were legit.

Avoid escrow companies that claim to be licensed in all 50 states, it's probably a lie. Even some top escrow services refuse to license themselves in Arizona which has licensing requirements that dictate the deposit of an unreasonably large amount of money as a condition for a license. California has tough licensing requirements too, so if you don't see them licensed there, you know they are lying.

Some phony escrow sites list a license # of: 963-1867. Be suspicious if you see this, it was cut and pasted from the legitimate

Go to and do a "whois" lookup of the escrow company domain name. If the domain name was registered only weeks before, consider them to be fraudulent. The scammers usually reserve several names, rip off a few people, then dump the site.

Avoid any escrow company with eBay's name embedded in it, like They are all frauds. eBay uses the legitimate

Don't foolishly think that you're safe just because your sale or purchase of a car took place through or Those sites are highly targeted by scammers.

Don't get suckered in by the professional look of an escrow company website. I can do that with Microsoft Front Page in 2 hours.

If the escrow company is located outside the U.S., don't use them. Are you nuts? There is no reason to use an offshore escrow company. They are not governed by any U.S. Laws.

If the escrow site has a "Verisign Secure Site, Click To Verify" logo on their web site, it is most likely fraudulent. Click on the logo and if all it does is send you to Verisign's home page, they are fraudulent. Same with Internet Security Alliance, and TRUSTe logos. Always verify if they are licensees of these organizations. Fraudulent websites like to paste them on their homepage, even though they are not licensees.

Avoid escrow companies that appear to be a well known company, but are not, i.e.,,

Assume that just about any escrow service with the word "Safe" or Secure" in their name are neither safe, nor secure.

Avoid dealing with any escrow company that has a ".ORG" as part of their name. Legitimate escrow companies are in business to make money, and would never try to pass themselves off as a non-profit organization, which is what the .ORG means.

If you're buying a used car, email the seller for a VIN#. If you don't here back from him, it's a fraud. Some scammers do actually respond back with VIN#s though, probably copied from another online ad, so be careful.

If the escrow company has the BBB logo on their site, but the link does not go to a BBB review of their business, then the site is a fraud.

Verify with the Better Business Bureau at if they have a reliability report on your escrow company. It takes 5 seconds. Legitimate escrow services are members of the BBB, and should have a "Satisfactory Record" on the BBB Reliability Report that pops up.

Avoid dealing with an escrow web site that does not have BOTH the address AND the phone number listed. Always call the phone number to make sure it's real. If you get some bogus message that says "leave a number", it's fraudulent.

Remember that once you send money using Western union or E-Gold through an escrow company, you will never ever see that money again. Once the cash is wired to the other end and picked up by the seller, Western Union cannot get it back.

If you used PayPal to wire money to the seller, you cannot get it back. This is because PayPal is not an escrow service. They just instantly wire the money into the seller's checking account. Once they get the money, the scammers close the checking account, so PayPal could not get the money back even if they wanted to.

Before you wire money through Western Union, call the Western Union Fraud Department, 1-800-325-6000. Explain your purchase situation and ask them if they think it's a scam.

No law enforcement agency, no court, and no lawyer will help you if you get scammed.

Send the escrow company a simple email question and see if they respond. If they don't then consider them to be fraudulent.

Perform searches on Google with the escrow company name, and with their address, to see if they show up in any court documents online, or to see if anyone has posted any bad experiences with them in any online forums. Google does a good job finding matches. Use quotations for search phrases like this: "2900 Vassar Way".

 Post subject: Jeff Ostroff is a wealth of information-I found him too late
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2005 2:58 am 

I was a victim of a false escrow site that was 'handling' my sale of a watch. The transaction began on eBay, and many things Jeff mentions were said/done by the scammer. I was simply uninformed, totally new to the whole internet buying / selling arena, and fell for the quite professional look of the escrow site, and the glowing reviews of the eBay buyer. It was only after I realized I was scammed, did I happen upon Jeff Ostroff's site that ended up a few days later shutting down the false escrow site used by the scammer to scam me into sending my watch. Jeff made me feel much better when he answered my frantic email, saying not to feel stupid for what I did, and even asked if I would be interested in giving my story to an MSNBC interview they were doing with him about these sites. I really needed to hear that from him, and appreciate his attitude to this day.

To make a long and painful, not to mention extremely dangerous and expensive story short-- The buyer was arrested in Austria when he went to pick up the package. Apparently my transaction with him was the one needed to tip the scales. I found that he had stolen the glowing eBay account from some poor fellow from the very beginning. eBay would have nothing to do with my request for help in that matter, as it all started there. The shipper, UPS, was completely awful in the way they handled the fact that the original shipment went out with a watch covered with their insurance, yet arrived at the destination empty. They would tell me nothing, and treated me, even interrogated me on the phone as if I was involved in a scam. The end result with them was they said my claim was fraudulent. The insurance they sell is covered with fine fine print that in the end only covers them. I was treated like the thief. My lawyer said they had no jurisdiction in Austria, and could do nothing to help me.

The scariest part was that when the package arrived in Austria empty, the buyer sent me a threatening email that really worried me. He accused me of being the scammer, and then said he would, "Track me down." Of course he had my address, phone, etc. Jeff helped me to calm down when he told me that most of the people that create and participate in these false escrow sites are young teenagers that would be too busy looking over their shoulders than to track me down. Still, I filed a police report, and just about every other type of report possible.

Just a fluke that every section of my innocent try to sell a watch, was corrupted. EVERY single one ! It was an intricate story to even try and tell. To look back now, not only do I realize I got caught up in the excitement of a relative's good fortune and experience with internet selling/buying; but did not research the ins and outs of what it takes to do it safely; but I see that I could have easily taken the watch in my hands to a local jewlers to sell. Live and learn. I trust NO online site now until I research it thouroughly. And I must say I will not ever do any type of internet trading, I am too jaded. I know that many others are very happy and successful in that way of business.

Also looking back, as Jeff mentioned, I felt the 'red flags'. My gut told me many times something was wrong. But on 'paper', the transaction glowed with positives. I will never again ignore my gut feeling about anything in my life!!

The site name WAS . The 'net' was the tipoff of the ripoff from .

Thanks Jeff !!! And to all--his site ROCKS !! It is very worth checking out. He is an extremely educated person in this industry. MSNBC has some great interviews with him too.


 Post subject: Correction of false escrow site name
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2005 3:42 am 

Wanted to correct the false escrow site name I gave above that Jeff Ostroff shut down. I said it was . The correct name is .


 Post subject: Online Escrow
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 3:49 pm 
I currently have a seller (supposedly local) of a used vehicle trying to get me to use an online escrow service JUST to look at the car. I emailed him back this morning telling him "thanks but no thanks". I can't wait to see what his reply will be. The site HE recommended is This site has all the warning signs, not to mention the "whois" search shows the site was created May 12 of this year. I will let you know what happens!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:35 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 7:21 pm
Posts: 1249
Tell the guy that you will not use such services and that you have a right by law to look at the car without placing one cent in escrow. If he cannot let you look at the car without escrow you are not interested. Wherever he listed the car for sale, warn the service or paper the ad appeared in about him attempting to run a scam. You may also contact your local police and tell them what is going on too, they may want to try and sting the guy if he is ripping people off.

Silence is a thief's best friend, Word-of-mouth is his worst enemy. Pass the word! brought to you by where victims always get FREE help.

 Post subject: trade-safe escrow company scam
PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 11:06 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 10:11 am
Posts: 1
my dad sold a $28000. diamond ring advertized on ebay to a mr. jim frunda from spain who deposited the money with trade safe who then confirmed receipt of the money. he also explained that spain has a 25% import duty so asked dad to ship the diamond fedex and describe it as unsolicited gift of nominal value. He sent it to was delivered and signed for but now he has not received the money and neither the buyer or trade safe answer emails. What can we do?

 Post subject: Re: trade-safe escrow company scam
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 9:03 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 6:40 am
Posts: 7
Location: Western Washington
donaldejones wrote:
my dad sold a $28000. diamond ring advertized on ebay to a mr. jim frunda from spain who deposited the money with trade safe who then confirmed receipt of the money. he also explained that spain has a 25% import duty so asked dad to ship the diamond fedex and describe it as unsolicited gift of nominal value. He sent it to was delivered and signed for but now he has not received the money and neither the buyer or trade safe answer emails. What can we do?

Cry, learn lesson, do NOT repeat.

I know, it hurts to be made a fool, but some people have done so and didn't live to regret it (Darwin Award Winners mostly)

Cut the scammers personal items off. Then hypotize them to crave other males and then let them loose in SF. I think that's the most fitting punishment....

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:20 am 
Gold Member

Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:31 am
Posts: 194

Where are you located, U.S, Euroe, or somewhere else?
What was the delivery address? - you may have some way of pursuing this alleged fraudster via his local police authorities - Spain is not Nigeria, they are an EU country, so all may not yet be lost.

 Post subject: Yooo Hooooo
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 9:30 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:55 am
Posts: 4
Jeff where are you?
You dropped off the face of the earth.

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