Internet Escrow Scams
Escrow services are supposed to protect the parties involved in any transaction. Unfortunately, scam artists are creative and misuse this concept to defraud people by promising protection for their money while demanding payment via methods that cannot be traced.
To achieve this, they often use the names of well-known companies, such as eBay, PayPal, Amazon, or Apple. They even claim that their services are provided by Internet Escrow Services, Inc. (IES) as this firm can be verified as a registered and licensed independent escrow firm in California.
This is false, Internet Escrow Services (IES) owns and operates Escrow.com. We are the only entity IES providing escrow services.
Furthermore, Escrow.com is not part of any escrow consortium or similar organization, nor are we affiliated with any other escrow sites. We are only members of Escrow Association of California and the Internet Commerce Association, which are entirely legitimate organizations.
To further protect our clients, Escrow.com works closely with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a task force comprised of multiple agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA.) The Internet Crime Complaint Center has been formed to combat cyber-crime.
Overview of Internet Escrow Scams
When it comes to internet escrow scams, criminals attempt to convince consumers that their money will be protected if they use a particular site. They will frequently use the names of well-known firms, including using their logos to make the communications seem legitimate.
These scam artists then demand the Buyer send money via some method that is usually difficult to trace, such as gift cards or wire transfers. Once the money is sent, the so-called Seller disappears, and the victim never receives the promised item.
Email Fraud and Phishing
Scam artists frequently use email fraud and “phishing” to defraud their victims. They send emails that seem to be from legitimate companies you already work with, like your bank, an online auction site, or even your internet service provider.
These emails often require you to verify your personal information by replying, opening an attachment, or clicking a link. The result is that a virus is downloaded that records everything you type, or you’re taken to a fake website that looks legitimate.
If you receive any emails that appear to be from Escrow.com but seem to be fraudulent, please contact our support team immediately.
Tips to Avoid Internet Escrow Scams
Scam artists who perpetrate internet escrow scams rely on people being skeptical and wary of dealing with unknown parties online. They use people’s caution against them by guiding them to bogus escrow services.
You should always use a legitimate service, like Escrow.com, to stay safe. However, there are other steps you can take to protect yourself.
Check Email Addresses Closely
Check the sender’s email address very closely, even if it looks legitimate at first glance. It might seem that the email came from Escrow.com, but looking closer, you discover the fake email address looks something like email@example.com.
The best option is to report it to Escrow.com and block the sender. Delete the email as soon as Escrow.com’s support team gives you the go-ahead, as they might need it for further investigation.
Make sure not to click on any links, download attachments, or reply, as you could be infecting your device with a virus.
Don’t Trust Information in Emails
If something seems suspicious, don’t trust the information in the email. Go to the company website to find correct contact information. Use the phone number on the website, for example, rather than the one listed in the email.
Scam artists often use fake phone numbers, hoping the consumer will never speak to a legitimate company representative.
To email the company, make sure to use the address listed on the company’s legitimate website.
Be Careful with Links
Links in emails can be problematic. Ensure that the link doesn’t go to a fake site by hovering your cursor over the link and checking the address.
To be even more confident, go to the company website directly, using your browser and not clicking the link.
Be Cautious with Unusual Payment Methods
If you’re asked to send money using an unusual payment method, like gift cards or a wire transfer directly to an individual, alarm bells should go off.
Major firms usually require payment by credit card, bank account transfer, or other legitimate electronic service, like PayPal.
If you get an email from a well-known firm asking you to make payment using an unconventional method, check their website or contact them via the information on their site to ensure the request is legitimate.
Generally, though, avoid paying for anything with a wire transfer or a gift card, because these are the methods scammers use most often, since you cannot recover the money.
Other Signs to Watch Out For
Scam artists are quite creative, so you need to be vigilant. They’ll often have a seemingly good reason why they can’t use Escrow.com and will recommend an alternative. You have to be careful, as those sites might not be legitimate escrow services. If you do opt to move forward, watch out for the following signs of a fraudulent site:
- Claims of affiliation with Escrow.com - we are not associated or affiliated with any other escrow site.
- Claims that their services are provided by Internet Escrow Services Inc., which owns and operates Escrow.com.
- The site looks similar to Escrow.com in design.
- Claims of recommendations from eBay, eBay Motors, or Yahoo! Auctions.
- A lack of contact details on the site, or it’s impossible to reach them when you call the customer support phone number.
- The company isn’t listed when you run a Google search.
- They aren’t listed with the Better Business Bureau.
- Domain names that have only been registered for a few weeks or months – certainly far less time than the firm claims to have been in operation.
- The so-called company requires person-to-person payment methods like Western Union.
- Suspiciously low escrow fees.
- Poor spelling and grammar, broken links, and inconsistencies with the information provided on their website.
Another concern is the lack of licensing information, such as how the firm is licensed and the licensing authority. Check if the license listed really belongs to the company in question and not someone else. Scammers often use IES’ license number, trying to pass it off as their own.
If you believe that you’ve been the victim of fraud, you should contact Escrow.com immediately to notify us. We will investigate any fraudulent activity that has occurred on our website with the utmost diligence.
If an escrow scam has targeted you, report the site and the person who recommended it to the proper authorities. By reporting it, you make it easier for the authorities to find and prosecute these criminals while also protecting other possible victims.
In the event that you have provided your personal information to a fraudulent site or person who recommended it, inquire if you are at risk of having your identity stolen.
Contact the shipping company to see if they can stop the delivery if you’ve already shipped the merchandise. You can also ask the company to get their fraud investigations department involved, as most of these firms have such a department.
Get in touch with your financial services provider to see if they can freeze any transfers of funds you have made. Ask them what other steps you can take to protect your account. Also, explain what happened so that your financial institution will investigate and report the fraudulent activity.
If you used Western Union to transfer the money, call them to report the fraud. You can do this by calling their customer service number at 1-800-448-1492 or filling out their online form.
The most effective way to protect yourself against scams and fraudulent activity is to use Escrow.com. We are a licensed and registered escrow service dedicated to protecting our customers at all times.