How Does an Escrow Services Scam Work? A NY Fraud Lawyer Explains
An escrow service is commonly used to protect a buyer in an auction or other sales transaction. A buyer purchases an item, usually for a significant amount of money. The buyer pays an escrow service the amount of money that is owed for the item. The seller sends the item to the buyer and the buyer has a period of time to inspect the item and either accept it or reject it. If the buyer accepts the item, the money in escrow is released to the seller. If the buyer rejects the item, the buyer must send it back to the seller. Once the seller has received the item in the same condition as when it was sent out, the buyer’s money is refunded.
While escrow services serve a legitimate and important function, there is also the possibility of escrow scams. Involvement with an escrow services scam is a criminal offense for which you can face very serious penalties. If you are charged with this offense, call Bukh Law Firm, PLLC to get help responding to the accusations and fighting state or federal criminal charges.
What is an Escrow Services Scam?
An escrow services scam generally involves the creation of a fraudulent escrow service. A buyer sends money to the escrow service, believing that he is protected from loss. The escrow service keeps the money that the buyer has sent to the service and the buyer never receives any item.
In some cases, an escrow services scam is used as a phishing operation. The buyer is told he is providing his or her financial information to the escrow service so that payment can be made for an item. Once the “service” receives the information, it may be sold on the black market or used to withdraw funds without the authorization of the account holder.
Escrow services scams are commonly run in conjunction with auction fraud schemes. A shell auction is set up to make the buyer believe he is purchasing a valuable item. When the buyer is the winning bidder, the buyer is told he must place money with the escrow service before the item is mailed to him. When the buyer sends the escrow service the money or financial details, the buyer becomes the victim of eBay escrow fraud.
Penalties for Operating a Fake Escrow Service
Operating a fake escrow service can trigger criminal charges for larceny in New York state court. Penalties for larceny vary depending upon the value of the items that were taken from the alleged victim. Article 190 of the New York Penal Code also imposes criminal penalties within New York State for various frauds including criminal impersonation; false advertising; schemes to defraud; criminal use of access devices; and identity theft.
Charges brought in NY state for escrow fraud can result in conviction for felony offenses with lengthy prison terms. However, when escrow services scams involve identity theft or the theft of large sums of money, state criminal charges are not usually as serious as federal criminal charges. Involvement with escrow services scams can trigger federal charges for offenses including wire and mail fraud (U.S Code Sections 1341 and 1343), and fraud in connection with identifying documents (U.S. Code Section 1028). Wire and mail fraud alone can result in maximum prison sentences of 30 years each in a federal penitentiary.
A NY Defense Lawyer Represents You after eBay Escrow Fraud
Do not try to handle accusation of escrow services fraud alone. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides representation to defendants accused of all types of auction fraud and other fraud schemes. We can vigorously protect your interests whether we defend you in court or work to negotiate a plea deal with a prosecutor. To learn more, call today to schedule a consultation with a NY fraud defense lawyer.