Be wary of Escrow companies - and potential fraudulent behaviour...

Posted 11th Jul 2021
* Apologies for the long read but it can't be covered in a few lines *

Hi all. After a bit of research, I couldn’t really find anywhere that collated information data in one place on the dubious activities of the many fake Escrow sites that have circulated - so I decided to compile something here. Seeing as they use many “fake” forums to attempt to sell their legitimacy, it seems only fitting to put something up on a true, trusted forum - such as HUKD - in the hope that it can be added to as necessary if required by anyone wishing to query anything - or even just tell their story.

What follows is a non-exhaustive list of Escrow company names, websites and associated fraudulent ‘forum’ pages that they use to fool the unwary. As you will see, they are crafty so-and-so’s and do their level best to make their own scam companies sound kosher. There are tell-tale signs to look for however, that uncover their true intention.

So, lets begin with some company names - from the past and present:
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Jambox Trading Group
Transell Trading Group
LogixSafe Trading Group
Belais Trading Group
AlluClev Trading Group
Dalmud Trading Corporation
VandorMartel Corporation
AgboGansky Corporation
LogiSec Escrow
AlfaClev Trading Group
RealSell Logistics Group
LogiDan Trading Group
SwifPak Trading Group
ProClev Escrow
AlphaSell Escrow
Clevend Escrow
ClevBuy Trading Group
TransTG Trading Group
GlobTranClev Trading Group
GlobalClev Trading Group
LightPax Trading Group
PaxiNet Escrow
StarClev Trading Group
ClevSell Escrow
SellClev
SellPak
VendClev Trading Group
ClevAds Escrow
DevSale Trading Group
IverPak Consignments Group
Jomber Trading Group
SafeClev Trading Group
RapidSell Trading Group
AberPak Consignments Group
Cannell Escrow Trading Group
AllBuy Trading Group
LogixClev Escrow
JMG TG Ltd
KlasSell Trading Group
iSell Trading Group
RockSal Trading Group
Symbonet Trading Group
Royeton Trading Group
Ansah Trading Group
VanceMarren Corporation
AddleyGarwood Corporation
Cargo Intell Inc.
CargoZone Logistics
Tolar Transeurope
NorthPak Consignments Group
Proshipex Trading Corporation
VoightMcCole Corporation
SecurusNet Escrow
ContinumShip Trading Corporation
Rabannio Trading Corporation

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These companies are set up to appear to offer an ‘intermediary’ service to handle sales between you (as a purchaser) and a seller. The seller may well be someone on Ebay or a social media selling platform, such as Facebook Marketplace for instance. They will often contact you to explain that the item you want is held somewhere by an ‘Escrow’ service who will take over the financial part of the sale on their behalf. This is sold to you as an extra level of protection against being scammed. In reality, this is exactly what is happening to you.

To gain further confidence, they may also invite you to check out the Escrow company online to ‘validate’ their story and prove some level of honesty and legitimacy. The idea is, you Google the name and lots of lovely forums appear with positive sounding stories. This is where it gets clever. They have specifically created these pages that look and feel just like real ‘discussion’ forums where seemingly innocent people; just like you; are asking whether a particular Escrow company can be trusted etc. These ‘people’ are the scammers themselves. Then; of course; other people (still the scammers) answer - singing the companies praises and/or giving them a 5-star thumbs up. There are even Youtube and Vimeo vids made to further keep up the pretence that these companies are genuine. All are fake.

These ‘forums’ can be unique, or in many cases as we shall see can be either a copy of an existing genuine one with a few ‘tweaks’ or a lookalike page with real links back to the real, legit forum - to give it a further boost in credibility.

Here’s a list of several “fake” sites:
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coffeeforumuk.co.uk
coffee-forumuk.co.uk
coffeeforums-uk.co.uk
swdubsforums.co.uk
swdubsuk.co.uk
swdubs-forum.co.uk
mb-clubs.co.uk
bmwccgbforums.co.uk
bmwccgb-forum.co.uk
bmwccgb-forums.co.uk
front-range4x4.com
forum-frontrange4x4.com
frontranger4x4.com
ukcamp-site.co.uk
uk-campsites.co.uk
uk-camp-site.co.uk
hammock-forum.com
hammock-forum.net
hammock-forums.net
hammockforums.net
xtremesystemsforum.org
xtremesystemsforums.com
xtreme-systems.org
thehipforums.com
the-hip-forum.com
the75andzt-club.co.uk
the75andzt-clubs.co.uk
the-75andzt-clubs.co.uk
wilderness-survivalforum.net
wilderness-survivalforums.net
wildernessurvivall.net
over-clockersuk.co.uk
over-clocker.co.uk
over-clockers.co.uk
bikechat-forum.co.uk
bikechat-forum.com
fendt-oldtimers.de
forum-mbclub.co.uk
forums-mbclub.co.uk
the-motor-forum.co.uk
motorcycleusa-forum.com
landtreff-foren.de
canadian-rodder.com
bautz-forum.de
pinkbike.co.uk
pinkbike.club
motor-talks.de
agro-wissen.com
zetor-forums.de
normag-forum.com
the-motor-forum.co.uk
themotor-forum.co.uk
modeltruck-forum.de
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These are just “Wordpress” sites that; as you can see; are interchangeable with some adding dashes or changing from .co.uk to .com etc. Some just add in a ‘uk’ here and there or an extra "s" for good measure! Most of these sites will just lead to the ‘base’ Wordpress page - until the scammers have updated the associated pages with new details (such as the latest scam company name) and then the full address appears “live” for victims to view. Many are up if you care to Google the name - and view the cache page(s).

The tricky part is when they use the logo for the legit site (or a very close replica) and even put valid links on the fake site that can lead back to the legitimate one. This can give a false impression to the unsuspecting. Lets look at an example and the things you should look out for if investigating for yourself:

Lets take a look at the fake mb-clubs.co.uk

Here; first; is the genuine forums.mbclub.co.uk website (note the fraud sites similar name.)

3761750.jpg
Now, here’s the fake page

3761750.jpgFake page address:mb-clubs.co.uk/rev…tml


First noticeable thing is the copy ‘cut & paste’ logo at top left. Then, the omission of the genuine logo - top right.

Next telltale signs to look for are dead links and backlinks. These are link buttons that either do nothing at all, or sneakily link back to the genuine forum to give you a sense that it must be real. Take the buttons at the top under the logo. If you hover over them, you can see their true destination. “Home” doesn’t take you to this fake sites homepage. Instead, it takes you to the real “forums.mbclub.co.uk” website. If you click it, notice the return of the logo, top right.

Many other buttons do nothing, or just reload the same fake page. Another thing you’ll notice is that you can’t go ‘up’ in the discussion directory tree. As this ‘fake’ topic is really the only one, it’ll usually go to the genuine site again. Of course, if you try and search the genuine site for the same discussion topic - you won’t find it. They will even copy individual forum members usernames too...

Ironically, one button I HAVE seen work on some of these sites is the “Donate” button - which leads to a nice Paypal account where you can give them some more of your money - if you so wish!

Right, we could go on and on with the various mentioned sites and the things to spot until the cows come home but this thread is more of a concrete “heads up” so anyone reading has a little idea how to weed out a fake forum page from the real thing. These guys will; no doubt; be back up and running with a new “Escrow” site soon, so; if you're actually considering using these services; remember:

1) Do your research. Google is your friend. Check out not only the company name but the website name too. Put your search in “quotes” if you want a more specific result. The company website that usually comes associated with these Escrow businesses are also littered with telltale signs that they aren’t real. Borrowed images from other legit companies and text taken from other sites. Take note of any addresses, names, email and telephone numbers as these can all be investigated. Also watch out for "bolt-on" addresses. This is where they take an existing, legitimate website and tag on a page of their own. Such as the real "animalforum.com" and then alter the address to the fake page:- animalforum.com.vance.marren.ytkra.top"

2) Use your common sense. If the item is way, way below the price you would normally expect to pay - question everything. It is most likely too good to be true.

3) Finally - No. The person telling you the super-cheap bargain car that is part of their inheritance and is sitting in a warehouse as they aren’t in the UK currently so need you to pay via an Escrow company: THEY ARE NOT LEGITIMATE!

Well, that's all for now folks. I'd just like to say thanks for reading through all that and do please comment with anything constructive such as if I've made an error that needs correcting, any new sites or names you may have found or even any experiences you have had yourself with any of the above. It may just help the next person avoid potential heartache by these rogues!
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