The following describes the most common ways victims are defrauded by a fraudulent escrow site. Please be aware there are numerous variations of these basic scam patterns. You should also be aware that the person recommending a fraudulent escrow site is usually a participant in the scam.

Buyer As Victim

How the scam works:

  1. A Seller recommends a fraudulent escrow site to the Buyer, often indicating it is for the protection of the Buyer. The fact that the Seller seems to be concerned for the protection of the buyer will often catch the Buyer off guard and make them feel more confident about the Seller.
  2. The Buyer sends money to the fraudulent escrow site following the instructions provided by the site.
  3. The Seller (or an accomplice) pockets the money. The Buyer never receives the merchandise.

Note: Fraudulent Sellers often use multiple fraudulent escrow sites. If a wary Buyer gets suspicious and says they don't want to use a particular site, the Seller may thank the Buyer for discovering the fraudulent nature of the site and suggest a different fraudulent site.

How to protect yourself from this scam:

Always use Escrow.com for your online transactions. Never do business with an individual that has recommended a fraudulent escrow site.

Seller As Victim

How the scam works:

  1. A Buyer recommends a fraudulent escrow site to the Seller, often indicating that they would only feel comfortable completing the transaction through an escrow service.
  2. The fake escrow site indicates to the Seller (either through email or a status on their site) that they have received the money for the transaction.
  3. The Seller thinks that the money is secure, and ships the goods to the Buyer.
  4. The Buyer takes the goods and the Seller never receives any money from the escrow service.

Note: Fraudulent Buyers have also been known to use more than one fraudulent escrow site. This scam is often run in conjunction with re-shipper fraud where a third party is duped in to receiving the merchandise and re-shipping it to the actual fraudsters.

How to protect yourself from this scam:

Always use Escrow.com for your online transactions. Never do business with an individual that has recommended a fraudulent site.

Bait and Switch

How the scam works:

Both parties agree to use Escrow.com. One party then tries to start the transaction on a fraudulent site, claiming that the site is an affiliate of Escrow.com.

Protection:

Always go directly to Escrow.com. Do not believe claims that another escrow site is related to Escrow.com. Never do business with an individual that has recommended a fraudulent site. NEVER DOWNLOAD ANY FILE FROM AN ESCROW SITE OR THE OTHER PARTY IN YOUR TRANSACTION.