How To Uncover Online Car Escrow Scams

The internet is inherently deceptive. While we know many of we assume we write from a luxurious, sumptuously upholstered cabin in a eternally globe-circling zeppelin, a law is that I’m customarily stationed on a damp mattress congested into a behind of a wrecked Econoline. In most a same way, a automobile selling website with a name we trust may, in fact, be a sum scam. Like this feign Edmunds site is.

Neither a rascal nor many of these sites are new, exactly, though they’re still really most around and many are designed good adequate that they can be false to many automobile buyers.

What’s a scam?

The elementary rascal is flattering simple; a site claims to be a creditable escrow service, to supplement a covering of confidence when you’re profitable a lot of income for a automobile to a stranger. Here’s how a site that seems to be partial of a creditable describes their process:

1. Buyer and Seller determine to term.

2. Buyer submits remuneration to Edmunds.

3. Seller or Edmunds delivers a automobile to buyer.

4. Buyer approves a vehicle.

5. Edmunds releases remuneration to seller.

The rascal here is that a escrow site is first, not compared with Edmunds, and second, a escrow site isn’t an escrow site during all, only some burro who will take your income and keep it.


A reader sent us a couple to this sold site, a one that claims to be partial of Edmunds so that’s a one we’ll concentration on now, though remember, there’s some-more of these sites.

Looking during a site, it apes a demeanour and feel of a normal Edmunds site flattering well:

As we can see, a feign site mimics a Edmunds logo, tip navigation bar design, typography, and altogether demeanour and feel. It’s not utterly perfect, though to a good many automobile buyers, it’s some-more than tighten enough.


Even a URL of a site is deceptive. The genuine Edmunds is, and a feign Edmunds escrow site is To many users, saying a part during a commencement creates it demeanour like a site is partial of Edmunds.

It’s not, of course. The tangible web domain is a part, and if we do a WHOIS on that domain, we find this:

Last we checked, Edmunds is not owned and operated by a Manchester lady named Samantha.

I went on a feign Edmunds escrow site to see what we could find out from a online tech support there, and motionless to ask them if a site was dependent with

Since I’m a questionable bastard, that indeed wasn’t good adequate for me, so we contacted to find out if they were handling an Edmunds-affiliated escrow site with a URL we was visiting. Here was my response:

Hi Jason,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. No, Edmunds has no connection with this site – unfortunately, this is a sincerely common rascal that impacts many third celebration selling sites. When these cocktail up, we work with a authorised group to forewarn a suitable authorities, though a best impediment is consumer education. We frequently refurbish consumer recommendation articles warning consumers of a red flags, and a shopper support group also posts updates as good (links below). I’ll be certain to brazen this over to a Legal team.

Hope this helps,


Shocking, right? Of course, a whole thing is a rascal to take your income and keep we from removing a cars we wanted with that money, presumably one of a misfortune crimes a tellurian can commit. Nicole of Edmunds had a good indicate about consumer education, that is accurately since I’m essay this now: these sites exist, and we should all be wakeful of them, and not let them get divided with this shit.


Adding another covering of deception, a feign site provides a territory where we can see their ‘licenses.’ This is partial of a website that, with cruel, cold irony, seeks to advise a customer that this arrange of escrow use is required since a internet is an uncertain, dangerous place:

At Edmunds, we know doubt doesn’t feel good. You can rest on us to safeguard your automobile or remuneration is stable with each transaction. When your transaction happens behind a Edmunds shield, we can be certain your supports will be safeguarded by a elementary remuneration steps. It’s a pursuit to persperate a tiny stuff. We’ll make certain your sale is safeguarded from rascal while we concentration on your business.

Oh, we fuckers.

They do give some plausible-looking licenses and credentials:

… though a bit of questioning shows these to be another deception. The California Department of Business Oversight permit is positively a genuine thing. In fact, a permit number, 9631867, is a real, genuine license. The problem is that it’s not released to this site.


That’s indeed a permit series of, an actual, established, and genuine online remuneration escrow association that does radically a same thing a feign Edmunds site says it will do, only though all a fibbing and crime.

That means we can google a permit series and find it’s valid, and associated to an escrow company, that this Edmunds site claims to be. For many people, this could seem like a trustworthy validation of a site.

So, how do we know what’s real?

If we wish to use an escrow site when selling a car, creation certain a one you’re operative with is genuine can be tricky, though we consider a best bets are to be a bit skeptical, and keep an eye open for details.

Specifically, here’s some tips:

Check that URL.

Look during a domain name. Really demeanour during it. Remember that a URL can have a lot of other characters that demeanour like URLs in a fibre of characters that creates adult a address. Take a box of this site; here, a actual URL was during a end, before a final .xxx—the rest of a URL is only there to upset and make it demeanour like a genuine Edmunds site: A genuine Edmunds site would have distant other tools of a URL with slashes, like this :

Weird-looking, long, or treacherous URLs can be a tipoff that something is up.

How’s it look?

Almost all major, genuine companies that are in this business have income to spend on creation their websites demeanour only right. If things demeanour uncanny or sloppy, that’s customarily a pointer something’s up. Here’s an instance from this site:

See a arrange of ungainly overlie of a semi-transparent navigation window and a content box on a reduce left? Also, note a ungainly demeanour of that center-justified divide in a window? None of that would pass pattern during a genuine Edmunds site, and sites with pattern that looks bit brief of veteran should be suspect.

Be a abbreviation national-socialist

Are there misspellings, dissipated punctuation, unfamiliar spellings, or other errors? Real companies don’t concede that shit. we mean, we infrequently do, though that’s different. On a creditable car-buying site, sum like this

… don’t slip by. Be wary.

Play it safe

Look, this isn’t selling locally-brewed drink or eating bacon from a plantation only outward of town. Stick with a large companies that do this arrange of thing all a time. Of course, Edmunds is such a company, and this site exists, so don’t be fearful to strech out. Call or email companies and ask about sites or URLs or anything you’re worried with.

I reached out to a owners of this feign Edmunds URL around phone and email, and have nonetheless to accept a response. Once again, I’m stunned.

Be clever out there.

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Posted by on Sep 13 2017. Filed under Gadgets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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