January 27, 2003
All last fall, as I was trying to buy a Powerbook G4 via online auction, my rally cry was escrow or bust. If the seller refused to use escrow then I refused to participate. I had several seemingly great deals fall thru only because the seller refused to use an escrow service.
I was certain that if I used an escrow service I'd be protected in the event that the item never showed up or wasn't what I had purchased. Now it seems that even this protection may not be trustworthy. It seems there is a new scam on the Internet, one that involves the use of a fake escrow site, or one controlled by the seller.
In this MSNBC News story an unfortunate victim of this new fraud scheme tells how he lost $55,000 using an "escrow" service.
I guess the moral of the story is: use an escrow service you pick and you research. And listen to your gut, especially if it tells you the situation feels wrong. And don't spend an amount online that you aren't prepared to lose.