BBB Warns of Online Escrow Service Fraud

Released on: June 16, 2008, 11:47 am

Press Release Author: Cindy Stranad

Industry: Non Profit

Press Release Summary: The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina is
warning consumers to be leery of internet scammers who are posing as safe escrow
services and defrauding car buyers.


BBB Warns of Online Escrow Service Fraud
Internet Scammers Defraud Car Buyers Out of Thousands

RALEIGH, N.C. (June 16, 2008) - The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina
released a warning today for all online consumers to be mindful of escrow service
fraud, especially regarding vehicle purchases.

Now more than ever, shoppers are looking for great deals on used, fuel-efficient
cars in order to pay less at the pump. Internet scammers, who have entered the arena
by posing as safe escrow services, are defrauding car buyers. Many times, extremely
low prices on used cars are too-good-to-be-true, and purchasing them may cost a
non-suspecting consumer thousands.

Escrow service scammers know that consumers are more likely to trust their claims if
they present a trustworthy identity through sophisticated Web sites and thought-out
stories. These criminals will not stop short of tugging on emotional strings,

Both the Chicago and Louisville BBBs were contacted by consumers after seeing odd
listings on Craigslist. For example, a 2007 Audi was listed for between $2,900 and
$3,500. The seller rationalized the low price by claiming the car was his son's, who
was recently killed in Iraq. To supposedly cover shipping costs, fraud victims were
told to use an escrow service for transferring money to USA-Transports, the phony
company. Despite the fact that USA-Transports sent a tracking number and called to
confirm a delivery schedule, the car never arrived.

"The benefit to using an escrow service is the safe environment for parties to
complete a fair transaction," said Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of the BBB of
Eastern North Carolina. "Unfortunately, these Internet scammers develop believable
stories about their cheap prices or previous track record so you will comply with
their services."

Online consumers who sent money through wire transfer services account for more than
25 percent of all Internet fraud victims. Requesting payment via wire transfer
services is common strategy among scammers, and these wire transfers can be
difficult to track. While eBay and Craigslist post warnings on their Web sites about
scammers, consumers still fall victim to Internet fraud. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) reported in 2007 that almost $526 million was lost due to Internet
Fraud; the Internet Crime Complaint Center handled 219,553 complaints during the
same year.

BBB Advice on Avoiding Escrow Fraud:
. Take caution when sellers pressure the use of a specific escrow service and check
for legitimacy at
. Many times escrow scammers will steal the identities of valid companies when
setting up their own Web site. After checking with the BBB, contact the company to
ensure validity.
. A legitimate escrow service will never require buyers to transfer money through
Western Union. Trustworthy companies will provide both routing and account numbers
for their bank and will instruct buyers to wire money from their bank accounts
directly to the company's financial institution.
. Be sure to confirm that the service is licensed and bonded with the appropriate
state agency and avoid overseas escrow companies.

About BBB of Eastern North Carolina:
The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina is a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit
corporation serving 33 counties in Eastern North Carolina. The organization is
funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 3,200 local business
and professional firms. The BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business
ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided
by the BBB include, reports on companies and charitable organizations, general
monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and
consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the
public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit
# # #

Web Site:

Contact Details: Media Contacts:
Cindy Stranad
(919) 232-5008 ext. 101

Beverly Baskin
(919) 277-4202

  • Printer Friendly Format
  • Back to previous page...
  • Back to home page...
  • Submit your press releases...