Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't be Victim of Escrow Scams: How to Lose $630,000 in a Hurry

--Escrow Scams Now about the most Profitable of all Internet Cons

The con artist's credo: The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing; if you can fake that, you've got it made This is closely adhered to in escrow scams. It makes the perfect vehicle.

A time back a St. Louis man, operating out of Europe, juggled four balls in a con man escrow scam that reads like it was taken directly from the pages of a legal thriller novel. In a perfect timing maneuver he pocketed some $630,000 in one week, by steering four large escrow scams into coming to a head in this timely fashion. Included in his loot were the proceeds from the sales of such non-existent items as a BMW car, a rare coin collection, uncut diamonds, and a European real estate development participation. All contacts were originally made through Internet bulletin boards and chat rooms.

He followed the ancient Con Artists' Axiom: The Gods of war allow the aggressor early victory, setting him up for a worse defeat later on Otherwise, his operation was typical, His "pitch"--which included all of the usual moves--was indeed inviting. Prices were mouth-watering, terms attractive, and ease of transfer--both money and goods--made dealing with him seem like a simpleton's delight. They included: on-paper-only escrow company image, phony references and credentials, and adroit, step-by-step steerage of the "marks" into dealing with him.

Only difference from the norm was the simultaneous perfection of his scam--which made it better than the average scam--bringing all four deals to climax within days of each other. This made it easy for him to get up and go, fold the tent quickly, walk away, and put good distance between himself and the law before his marks "wised up."

To fall off a turnip truck you must first get on. Here are a few hints to help you steer clear of such form of offered transportation when dealing with any kind of escrow: the con artists involved.

1. On the internet, and elsewhere, never deal with anybody who does not list their full address and phone number. Check it out. You'd be surprised at how many do not. It all starts here with an absence of full identification.

2. Does either the buyer or seller (whichever you're dealing with) refer you to a specific escrow service? If so, this is not a yellow light situation, it is a big, flashing red light. Drop this person like the proverbial "hot potato" and search elsewhere.

3. If, when attempting to contact the escrow company's customer service department by phone, you find it impossible to get past the robot brigade--to talk to a real live human being--hang up and and walk off into the sunset, in search of a different service.

4. When Western Union or Money-Gram money transfers are suggested, the shock should be something similar to what it would be seeing the SWAT team pull up in front of your house. No person-to-person transfers of any kind, if you are treating you wallet with respect. Only bank transfers--you to corporate entity--and have your bank report to you as to where the funds were transferred. And, use this method only in rare, thoroughly-investigated instances.

5. Check out the long list of known fraud sites at Escrow Fraud. com Imperative for discovering fraud and con artists' shell games.

6. If an internet transaction, check out how long the suspect escrow company's domain name has been in operation. You can do this at Register.com

7. Offers, with no negotiation at all, to pay for shipping and insurance should be received by you like finger nails being scraped across a black board. These "generous" offerings are usually made to disguise transactional hanky-panky. If you want it all, and want it delivered, this is not the way to go about it.

There you go. You need not be taken in by the accepted gibberish of the escrow money transaction.

Now, consider this, a fact we feel should be a kind of cathartic shock for, even, the brain-dead:

Online escrow service, Auction Pix, a long established firm, estimates that a ratio of 10 to 1 exists, fake to legitimate internet escrow sites. Yes, this is such an important fact that it bears repeating for emphasis: this means 10 times as many phony escrow sources as legitimate ones.

Think of it! That's staggering. It's meaning is simple: escrow fraud is epidemic. It should, then, be clearly indicative that a careless approach to these business transaction"intermediaries" could be as dangerous as going rock climbing while drunk.

26 comments:

Mr. Grudge said...

If only the con men would spend this much time and energy on something legal...Ooops! I'm being naive, aren't I? Thanks for an informative post, jack.

Terry said...

I knew that escrow scams were plentiful on the internet, but had no idea that they were so prevalent...this is overwhelming. Thanks, Jack, for this information.

Earl T. Clydson said...

This ball-juggling con man had to be a master of the art, like Steve Draves in your book. This is always fascinating to me, how these people can pull these elaborate scams off.

Jack Payne said...

"if only," that which never appears to come to pass, Mike. And, sad, but true, there is no signal that it is ever going to stop.

I thought the dominance of con artists over the internet escrow scene was overwhelming too, Terry. That's why Ijumped up and down about it so much.

Yes, Earl, you've sure got to wonder about the omnipotence of these sociopaths. What makes it happen? Why this personality type? Why are they so especially good at it?
Questions, questions, questions. Few answers.

Jack Payne said...

"if only," that which never appears to come to pass, Mike. And, sad, but true, there is no signal that it is ever going to stop.

I thought the dominance of con artists over the internet escrow scene was overwhelming too, Terry. That's why Ijumped up and down about it so much.

Yes, Earl, you've sure got to wonder about the omnipotence of these sociopaths. What makes it happen? Why this personality type? Why are they so especially good at it?
Questions, questions, questions. Few answers.

Schreiber said...

Normally I am not a big government guy, but in this case of the escrow madness on the internet I guess the government has to step in and play a major role. They have got to do something to stop this, or at least slow it down. What are they doing now? This is bordering on rampant crime to the point of being ridiculous for a civilized society to live with.

Jack Payne said...

First off, I have, somehow, been double-clutching some of my comments on comments, getting 2 versions of what I've got to say down. This is not good. It's confusing and distracting. I apologize, and will try very hard to correct this unacceptable "situation."

Now, as to what the Government is doing on this seemingly out-of-control escrow problem. You are justified in your worry about this, Norm. It's an enormous con game problem, one of the very biggest. Contrast this to insurance fraud where 95% of the perpetrators are caught. With escrow scams it's the other way around, with approximately 95% of these scamsters getting away with their crimes. True, some of these scams only amount to nibbling around the edges, but far too many others are huge, some mounting on up into the millions of dollars.

The FTC has been very active in issuing alerts--lots of news releases in this area.
They are the most relentless of the Government agencies. Sadly, I see little positive results to show. Frankly, I don't know what more is planned, at this point--but something had better be.

BTW, you were dying to read my book. But, that was 6 months ago. Have heard nothing more. Am still waiting for feedback from you.

Warren M said...

I understand the F.B.I. isn't doing near as much as they used to do on white collar crime cases. Is that right?

Jack Payne said...

That's right, Warren, in the U.S. the F.B.I. is so preoccupied with terrorism these days that white collar crime has been pushed to the bottom of the list. As for investigations, the number of these cases being pursued is way, way down. Don't know how badly the number is off in other countries.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I keep mounting my soap box, preaching the value of self-protection--through learning and understanding what you might have to contend with.

Ione Hesber said...

Rumor has it that the first place to run to with a complaint is to the Consumer Affairs Division of state governments. How true this is I just don't know.

Bern said...

I read somewhere where the recidivism rate for scam artists caught and convicted in escrow cons is very high. This means that despite the low catch rate once back on the street they are right back to the same old scams. This sure must be a lucratative business alright. Hard to believe.

Tamera Daun said...

earl t. clydson...Argh. I was ready to tie cement to the feet of Steve Draves, and throw him in the river after the first few pages. Of course, I have to keep reading (not finished), b/c I have to know that there will be some type of justice done in the end (no one tell me the ending).

These types are more enraging than they are fascinating. There is NO self-insight, and the enraging part is that they just find a new scam. They figure, no harm done. I think we want for these types to understand that they have done wrong, and make up for it in a way. They don't! They never learn, and they are such a menace.

Jack Payne said...

Good conclusion, Ione. Consumer Affairs Divisions of state attorney generals' offices, are about the most active, and effective, of all government enforcement arms. The Feds just don't seem to be able to cut it, despite a good system of issuing "alerts."

You are 100% right about the recidivism rate for convicted con artists, Bern. Of course, it figures.
Where else can you find crime that is so easy to commit, where your victims, largely, don't much care about even learning the nuts and bolts of it so that they might protect themselves?

Tamera! Tamera! Tamera! Save your wrath. The fate of Steve Draves will play out more to your satisfaction than all the real-life scamology that goes on all around you.

Tamera Daun said...

Whew! Thank goodness.

Terry said...

I checked out a bunch of escrow sites...and by gosh that is right...so many do not have comeplete addresses and phone number.

Crissy said...

Thanks for the alert. Have a nice day Jack. :)

Terry said...

I checked more escrow sites...it is so strange...no complete indentifications. How do you know who you're dealing with? How can people be so foolish as to deal with sharks like this...when thousands of dollars of their hard earned money might be involved?

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Great blog!!! I especially hate how the elderly are conned when they are simply trying to exist.

JJ

Rory Gord said...

Thanks for the very kind words Jack. Also, I enjoy your site. Not much information out there about con men (I assume to the liking of Con Men everywhere). Way to displease the Scammers!

Sandra said...

Ouch, that's so much money!

Jamie said...

I've heard of escrow scams before, but didn't realize how many there were or how lucrative they could be. I learn something new every time I visit. Thanks Jack!

paula said...

To be very frank, this article is revolutionary and can be the decisive element in upcoming elections. The fact that people have closed their eyes from times immemorial, this article can turn the around for the citizens of America.

mellisa said...

very shocked that the things like ecsrow can cheat us of our hard earned money....very well done mr. Jack...i really appreciate you.

crystal said...

escrow-such a sweet word and no one knew that people can misuse it and infact are misusing it... very very thanks mr. jack for revealing these things..

brendon said...

'how to lose $630,000 in hurry'. the name itself suggests that if not considered carefully, this little thing called 'escrow' can prove fatal for your life. mr. Jack has really done an appreiating task....

brian said...

thank you jacko...after reading your article i have realised it and vowed to take care while using 'escrow' anywhere....