On the Internet you can shop for virtually anything according to your exact specifications in terms of type, producer, and colour - even for cars, motorcycles and appliances wherever they may be located. Escrow sites have made it secure to order for these types of big-ticket items, because they ensure payment and product delivery. But what happens when con-artists and racketeers lure gullible consumers and suppliers into fake escrow sites to carry off their banking information, money and products? Lamentably, escrow fraud is a reality. Some duplicitous persons build fake escrow sites and then act as purchasers or suppliers in order to cheat honest people out of their cash or goods. When an escrow poseur pretends to be a vendor, he displays an item for sale, and convinces the consumer to remit his money to the fake escrow site - usually convincing him it's for his own safety. The swindler gets the funds intended for the vendor, and the purchaser gets nothing in return. When assuming the role of a shopper, the criminal examines auction and classified sites to look for an article he wants and goes through the motions of purchasing it. The con stands firm on using the fictitious escrow site, which advises the seller that the consumer has deposited funds so the seller ships the merchandise. The scammer receives the article and the merchant ends up with nothing. How to identify and avoid bogus escrow sites Not falling victim to escrow fraud is really easy if you stick to a few essential rules: 1.Be aware of several reputable and verified escrow sites before purchasing or merchandising online 2.Be cautious with a shopper/vendor who stands firm on using a particular escrow site you have never heard of (some use multiple sites to bewilder watchful buyers/sellers) 3.Beware of escrow sites that are shabbily designed, look unreliable, has many spelling or grammar mistakes, and/or don't provide sufficient information about proper use of the site or who owns it. Reliable escrow firms devote a lot of time and money to build quality sites. If you want to know more, take a look at What is escrow. 4.STAY AWAY FROM an escrow site whose URL (web address) doesn't begin with "https://" - the "s" is important; it points to a secure site with 128 bit encryption technology. An unsecure escrow site is most likely illegitimate. 5.Beware of escrow sites with suspiciously low escrow rates. Cheap escrow rates are sometimes used to attract people in. 6.DON'T deposit funds using untraceable money wire firms, like Western Union or Money Gram. 7.NEVER send escrow funds to an individual or agent. Legitimate firms will allow you only to deposit funds with a corporation that is licensed to facilitate escrow transactions. What to do if you suspect an escrow site as fraudulent Here are some tips to verify whether an escrow site is above board: 1.Do an internet search using the company name as keywords. If only the escrow site comes up, it's probably an illegitimate site. 2.Ask for the company's domain name in a WHOIS database. If the domain was registered recently or the contact information cannot be confirmed, refrain from using the site. 3.Validate if the company is authorised and who the licensing authority is. Then look up the licensing authority and double-check the registration numbers provided. Make sure that the registration number refers exactly to the company. Look well at the licensing authority's own site. If it shows any of the danger signs for fraudulent sites, assume that this site is phony - and so is the escrow company it authorised. 4.If an escrow site alleges to be affiliated with Ebay, Yahoo! or a similar company, verify the relationship from the alleged affiliate. 5.Any escrow site that claims functions as an agency of a larger, better-known escrow firm is probably not legitimate. Legitimate escrow firms rarely operate in this way. What to do if you fall victim to a fraudulent escrow site If you have been victimised by a phony escrow site, you ought to report the site to authorities immediately and take steps to defend yourself against identity theft. In the United Kingdom, you can report Internet and escrow fraud to the Metropolitan Police In the U.S., you can report fraud through your local police, the Secret Service, and/or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. If the fraudulent transaction occurred in connection with Ebay, Yahoo!, Craig's List or a similar site, you should report the incident to that company as well as the police. You can also report the website to the company with which the website is hosted and ask them to close the website. For reporting identity theft in the United Kingdom, visit the Metropolitan Police website. In the U.S. report identity theft with Federal Trade Commission. Staying on the safe side The proven way to steer clear of an online escrow scam is to use a widely known and established escrow firm, such as PayPrimo. PayPrimo is a licensed and authorised escrow corporation with a reputation for reliability. The PayPrimo site is simple to use, has various modes of traceable payment options, and employs at least 128-bit encryption security for your protection. For more info, visit this site.