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Fake Car Sale Using Bogus Escrow

A fairly new and sophisticated scam is making rounds in the united states. The scam involves the usage of a fake escrow service and targets car buyers.

The scam works in the following way. Scammer contacts the victim via an online buying site such as Craigslist or Kijiji. The fake seller tells a story of being in a different country and explains that for protection he wants to an escrow service to conduct the deal.

Scammer goes on to explain that the buyer should deposit money on to the escrow account and once the buyer receives the car the seller will get the money from the escrow.

Scammers often use big escrow names in order to sound more legitimate, Google checkout and Ebay Motors are just some of the examples.

Once the victim agrees the scammer sends out of the fake escrow documents.

The documents contain banking information of a fake escrow account where the money should be deposited.

Once the victim deposits the money it is gone forever. Scammers use what is called a "mule bank account" that often belongs to on innocent person. Your money is then sent by the "mule" to the scammers in cash.

Recently there have been a series of arrests, performed by the FBI in collaboration with Interpol. It involved 5 individuals 3 of who lived in Russia. Despite arrests the scam is only growing in popularity. As more and more people go online to purchase their vehicles, scammers start paying closer attention to this new platform for scamming.

If you don't want to become a victim of such a scam there are several things you can do. The best advice is to deal locally. 99 percent of all such scams involved sellers who refused to meet in person.

Also whenever you recieve official documents, make sure to lookup the telephone number of the company on your own and then call them directly to make sure the information in the documents is accurate.

When you deal locally you should also use certain precautions. It's advised to always meet in public places. In fact one of the best places to meet would be inside of a bank, because of security guards and video surveillance.

Reference:

MSNBC Article
Wikipedia's Bogus Escrow page