We’ve been reporting car buying scams since 1996. This is our 8th annual list of the "Top 10 Car Dealer Scams" you’ll likely encounter, based on our research from 10,000+ visitors daily. We receive complaints and compile this list based on currently running scams at some car dealers. Most dealers are honest, so this Top 10 list deals is about dishonest car dealers. You’re an ostrich with your head buried in the sand if you think there are no bad salespeople out there. We are not picking on car dealers, there are bad furniture salespeople, advertising salespeople, bad priests, bad judges, real estate agents, police, but we cover cars here. These scams are real, they happen to people every day. Some salespeople flame us, claiming these scams are no longer used, If scams are on our list, I can assure you they are still in use. People with bad credit are easy prey, likely to see most of these financing related scams. Read our chapter for people with bad credit: Bad Credit Auto Loans, Tips and Scams To Avoid. The nastiest scams occur in the finance office, where the foolish let down their guard after the sale. Some scams haunt you weeks later, when you though you had a signed contract and find they still have their tentacles in your wallet. Car buyers who see the fewest scams followed our advice, arriving with their own financing, no trade, and The Folder full of research. PLEASE also read our investigative report CarBuyingTips.com Guide To Check Fraud, Escrow Internet Fraud, Auto Fraud, and Nigerian Scams.
New Car Buying Tip: If you hate haggling, try sites such as Cars.com, InvoiceDealers, Yahoo!Autos, Autos.com, Edmunds.com, MyRide.com and CarsDirect because you bypass the commissioned sales people, dealing with the fleet manager or internet sales manager, who usually ends up giving you a better deal, and with no scams.
Funny one liners salespeople like to use on you. Did they take the same sales training course?
"You’re stealing food from my baby’s mouth"
"Everybody pays this fee"
"We’re losing our shirt on this deal"
"The web sites you got the prices from are wrong."
"This car won’t be here tomorrow"
"The bank requires you to buy the extended warranty to get loan approval"
"Do you want the car? What will it take to make you sign today?"
Attention members of the press: You may quote this page provided you give appropriate credit. Click here: Press Information.
Is it a loan or not a loan?
Quite often the "car loan" you’re applying for at the dealer is not really a car loan. They are known in the car business as Retail Installment Sales Contracts, or RISCs. (an appropriate acronym). The dealer signs the RISC with you, then sells it to a bank, or other lender, hopefully at a good markup on the contract. Sometimes they also participate in the interest rate. So the higher APR they charge you, the more money they make. Car dealer financing is not a service they provide for you, it is a product they sell to you, explaining why some scams listed below exist. If they can get you a better APR, fine. But if not, have your own financing ready to fall back on.
Abuse of the Patriot Act?
We are getting complaints from car buyers who have their own car financing from a credit union or an online lender, and the car dealer forces them to sign a credit application anyway, falsely claiming "it’s required by the Patriot Act". There is no verse in the Patriot Act that I can find requiring you fill out a credit application, or allowing dealers to run credit checks on you when you bring your own car financing. Their bogus claim sounds believable, but armed with verbiage of the law, you can stop them. Here’s a link to the Patriot Act: http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/highlights.htm. Ask the car dealer to tell you which exact section of the Patriot Act requires them to make you fill out a credit application when you have your own financing, and collect your Social Security number, and run your credit report. Since they claim it’s required, they should be able to show you the verbiage (HINT: They can’t). The Patriot Act (H.R. 3162), Section 326 "Verification of identification" requires banks and financial institutions to verify your ID before you open an account. Since you are not opening an account with the dealer and they are not a bank, they don’t need you to fill out a credit application or a Patriot Act form. The Patriot Act form I filled out for my mortgage only asks for your loan number and driver’s license number, not your SS#, and it does not say "Credit Application" on it. The Patriot Act specifically calls out driver’s licenses or passports for ID verification. Nothing more. Dealers fool you into filling out the credit app, so then can run your credit through a half dozen local banks in an attempt to lead you into the dealer’s financing so they can get more commission. But why all the lies?
Top 10 Car Dealer Scams:
1) The Financing Fell Through Scam (Spot Delivery Scam)
2) The Straw Purchase Scam
3) The "Forget To Pay Off Your Trade In" Scam (New For 2006)
4) The "Lie To The Customer About Their Credit Score" Scam
5) The "Your Online Lender Bounces Checks" Scam
6) The "Forced Warranty" Scam
7) The "Dealer Prep" Scam (Excessive Fee)
8) "We’ll Payoff Your Loan No Matter How Much You Still Owe!!!"
9) The Previously Wrecked Used Car, Sold "As Is" Scam
10) The Fake Vehicle Escrow Service Scam (New For 2006)
Scam #1: The Financing Fell Through Scam (Spot Delivery Scam)
How the scam works: This is the oldest trick in the scam book, increasing in 2005. Lots of people complain about to us about this scam. You buy a new car, the "LieNance" manager says you got a low APR, hands you the keys, and you drive home. (Not all finance managers are LieNance managers, just the ones who lie, so salespeople stop whining to me about this name I made up for the few bad apples). Two weeks and 500 miles later, the dealer calls you saying "Sorry, you didn’t qualify for that low interest". This is where "subject to financing" clauses on contracts bite you in the butt. Everyone thinks that you sign papers it’s a done deal. The dealer knew exactly what you qualified for before you signed, unless you lied about your income.
They knew your credit score. If it’s above 680, you’ll get a low APR. If it’s below 680, expect a higher APR. Your credit union will print your credit history and approve you in 10 minutes. I got approved instantly online with Capital One Auto Finance. So why the problems with the dealer’s Retail Installment Sales Contract? There usually is no problem, it’s a scam. There is a phrase on most sales contracts stating "subject to loan approval". This Jedi mind trick means: "The deal is not final, even though you signed this contract." They’ll tell you that you must produce an additional $1000 AND your payments would go up. They pull this scam on people with bad credit, because it’s believable. They get the least resistance from this crowd, and figure you’ll just pay up somehow.
How to avoid the scam: DON’T FINANCE AT THE DEALER if you have bad credit. Line up your own financing and compare to dealer’s financing. Read our chapter on How to finance your car or use online car financing or your credit union instead. By using your own financing, you won’t endure monthly payment scams, and the deal will be based on the selling price of the car, not monthly payments. If they start negotiating the car by monthly payment, it’s time to leave. If they keep trying to shift your APR up or down depending on whether you buy a warranty or VIN etching, it’s time to leave. But if you do finance through a car dealer, leave a deposit on your credit card, and do not take delivery of the car until the loan has been approved in writing a few days later. Then you know the lender has approved your loan. The dealer hands you the keys and say it’s all right to drive off right now with the car, but don’t do it. For buyers who lease, dealers sometimes call you a week later and claim they "made a mistake and you need to come back and sign a new contract." WRONG. Your lease is a contract, and the dealer cannot make you undo a contract. Just think, if you tried to get out of a lease, they would come after you in court right?
What to do if this scam happens to you: If you you got a good price on the car, your best solution is to preserve your deal so get your own instant financing online. If you have a credit score over 650, go online right now to Capital One Auto Finance or HSBC Auto Finance and apply online, and get approved within the hour. They will FedEx you a check the next day, you’ll take it to the dealer to pay for your car, now you have a car loan, no "financing fell through!" If your score is below 650, then apply through AutoCreditFinders instead. If the dealer refuses your online check, you should try to get out of that deal. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at BBB.com, and file a complaint through your state’s Attorney General Web site. They are all aware of Spot Delivery Scams.
Scam #2:The Straw Purchase Scam
How the scam works: We saw a resurgence of this scam in 2005 and 2006. It typically increases when interest rates go up, and fewer people qualify for loans as lenders tighten their belts. A straw purchase traditionally refers to handgun sales. When one person buys a handgun for a person who is ineligible to own one, it’s called a Straw Purchase, carrying stiff penalties. That’s how the Columbine High School student shooters got their guns. With car buying, the dealer tells you that with your horrible credit score, you can’t qualify for a car loan so you need to get a co-signer, plus they tell you that it will help build your credit again. No problem, Grandma will co-sign the papers for you. The dealer knows your horrific credit score could not possible ever qualify for a loan, even with a co-signer. Grandma is easily duped by the dealer during the paperwork shuffle, tricked into signing as the primary borrower, and 2 weeks later you find the dealer did not process a co-sign loan, the entire loan is in Grandma’s name! This does not help your credit, even though you are paying the monthly payments, because the loan is in grandma’s name, and the car dealer lied to you. State laws are vague but I hear some states like Texas have laws against Straw Purchases on cars.
How To Avoid The Scam: Have both signers there at the same time. You should have both signatures on the same contract, NEVER sign separate contracts. There should be a separate line item for co-signer. A notice to the cosigner is required by the Federal Trade Commission’s Trade Regulation Rule on Credit Practices. The cosigner should ask for a copy of that before they sign it. But another problem also surfaces here. If your credit is so bad that you need a co-signer, then the last thing in the world you should be doing right now is buying a new car. Try a used reliable Honda Accord if you really must buy a car.
Scam #3: "Forget To Pay Off Your Trade In" Scam
How the scam works: We saw an increase in complaints of this scam in 2005. You trade in your old car which you still owe money on, and the dealer is supposed to obtain a payoff figure and payoff the loan for you and add that payoff amount to your new car purchase. But something horrible happens. Two months later your are shocked to hear the new car dealer did not pay off your old car loan as promised. With this scam dealers effectively pay you less for your trade than they promised or steal it altogether. When the bank calls, YOU are responsible for the loan, not the dealer. The car loan is still in your name, until the dealer pays it off. As far as the bank is concerned, they have a loan with YOU, not a dealer and it’s in your name until paid off. Now your credit gets dinged with late payment alerts from your bank. Sue the dealer, the judge will ask to see your contract with the dealer obligating them to pay off your old car loan. Of course there is none.
How to avoid the scam: We always recommend against buying a new car when you still owe money on your current car. Pay it off yourself first, get your title from the bank, THEN trade it in or sell it privately, paying off your loan with sales proceeds. When buying new cars, if you trade in a used car which you still owe money on, make the dealer put in writing that he will pay off your car loan in 10 days, or no deal. Then he is liable in court. You don’t want to end up in court without proof that the dealer was supposed to payoff your trade-in. If the dealer refuses to put these promises in writing, it means they will pull this scam on you, and you need to leave immediately, taking your business to a more reputable dealer. It’s the same with houses and cars, if you call for a payoff figure, you typically have 10 days to pay off that loan or interest will accrue. Most dealers are good, but a dealer who pulls this scam should know better.
Scam #4: The "Lie To The Customer About Their Credit Score" Scam
How the scam works: This is one of my favorite Jedi Mind Tricks. The Lie-nance manager (not all finance managers are Lie-nance managers, most are nice guys) lies to you about your credit score, telling you it was really low, so you now have to pay a much higher car loan interest rate than you thought. This scam is pulled on people with good credit too, as it works well because most people do not know their own credit score. It’s funny, most people know their own cholesterol levels, but they don’t know their credit score. One buyer told us his score was 780 (Excellent) from 3 credit bureaus. At the car dealer four finance people came out after reviewing his loan application with "concerned looks" and a paper that said "credit score" on it with the number 580 circled in red. They stated they could only get him financed at 10.9% APR, not the special 0% interest rate. He pulled out his own credit score with 780 and asked why the dealer was different from his Equifax credit report. Three sales guys scattered, the last guy lied, saying that "credit agencies display better credit scores to consumers than to businesses". Our friend bought his car elsewhere with the low 0% advertised APR.
How To Avoid The Scam: No salesperson should know more about your credit history than you. If they pull this scam, pull out your credit score and put a stop to it. This is why we stress that you should have your financing 100% lined up before you buy your new car, never as an afterthought in the business office. Give them a chance to beat your car loan quote. If they pull any funny business, pay with your bank draft from your lined up car lender, or just leave. Read our chapter on Auto Loans Tips & Scams for tips on getting your credit score and online car loans.
Scam #5: The "Your Online Lender Bounces Checks" Scam
How the scam works: The dealer sees your bank draft from a credit union, or online car finance sites such as Capital One Auto Finance, HSBC Auto Finance or AutoCreditFinders. Not wanting to lose the extra gravy of selling you the car dealer’s RISC financing, they refuse your bank draft, lying to you that "online lenders bounce checks." They will say "their checks always bounce, so we don’t take them". But gee, the dealer is willing to provide you financing, at higher APR. CapitalOne and HSBC are household names and many car buyers already doubt the salesperson’s lies. So they may also tell you "well, they take too long to pay us".
Some salespeople stop at nothing. If your lender was bouncing checks, we’d hear about it via federal investigations. I get daily emails from people who financed with Capital One Auto Finance, HSBC Auto Finance with no problem. I used Capital One Auto Financeto finance my new 2004 Lexus GX470 SUV. Lexus had no problems accepting my CapitalOne check. My friend financed 2 used cars with Capital One Auto Finance. There’s nothing wrong with dealer financing if they can beat your best APR. If not, use your online financing. Unless you qualify for a manufacturer’s 2.9% financing, online banks will beat the local banks used by dealers most of the time, and online lenders often beat credit union rates. If a dealer spews out this scam and refuses your online financing, you the customer need to retain control and refuse to buy from that unethical and slanderous dealer. There are plenty of ethical dealers who eagerly accept online loans without the lies.
How To Avoid The Scam: Tell the finance manager you’re onto their scam, online lenders have been in business for years and fund loans without bouncing checks. Then get up to leave. You should also file a complaint with your state Attorney General’s Office, because we need to make this scam illegal for dealers who force you into higher APR financing. I get emails on this scam often, and if the state attorneys do not know this is going on, they can’t help us consumers. The federal government should wrap this into the Truth In Lending Act. Here’s our link to all 50 Attorney General’s Offices.
Scam #6: The "Forced Warranty" Scam
How the scam works: An old one that’s still in use. You’re ready to sign papers when the LieNance manager says you MUST buy a $2000 extended warranty "because the bank requires it, or you won’t get the loan". Let’s analyze the stupidity factor. The lender is worried about your ability to pay back a $25,000 car loan, so they want you to add another $2000 to the loan to qualify? Please! Many suckers fall for this and the credit life scam. Some dealers who quote monthly payments don’t even tell you that you’re buying a warranty. We get complaints that they tell you "it’s included" to make it sound like it’s free. The warranty is included, but you’re paying for it. It’s amazing how many people tell me they did not see it on the paperwork until they got home! I guess during the 20 minute drive from the car dealer to their house is when they mastered reading. If I live to be 100 I’ll never figure out why they don’t look before they sign. People will spend more time analyzing a $2.00 watermelon in the grocery store than contracts for a $20,000 car! This scam often accompanies the Spot Delivery Scam. Some finance managers start playing games with the APR if you buy the extended warranty, some claim the APR goes up if you don’t buy the warranty. Since when does the interest rate have anything to do with a stupid warranty? They lie to you about this because they know that you know nothing about it. The only thing that determines the APR you will pay is your very own personal FICO credit score. Nothing else whatsoever, not the cost of the car, not buying a warranty.
How to avoid the scam: Have them to put it in writing that the warranty "is required to be approved for your loan", so you can show it to your State Attorney, and the Better Business Bureau. Watch how quick they back off. Read our Tips For Getting A Good Car Loan and avoiding scams. Also read our Extended Warranty Scams & Buying Tips. This scam works on people with bad credit and they also "require" you to buy credit life insurance, or "your APR will go up". One of our visitors sent us her Ford paperwork with extended warranty, credit life, and disability for $3385! Do they want to sell you a car or insurance? If they refuse to remove the extended warranty, remove yourself from that devilship immediately. (Oops, I meant to say dealership). Many dealers sell you mechanical breakdown warranties, which are lame compared to some of the wear and tear warranties offered online. Also, dealers typically charge $500-$700 for Gap Insurance, which you can get online directly from companies like Gapinsurancequotes.com for half the price that car dealers sell it for. So if the dealer tells you the bank requires gap insurance, tell them you will go get it yourself. Most states have laws giving you a Warranty refund in 30 days if you have not used it.
Another way to avoid the scam: DON’T FINANCE AT THE DEALER if you have bad credit. Finance your car online or at a credit union. Now they can’t force you to buy a warranty, you eliminated their excuse to force a warranty down your throat. Credit unions and online lenders don’t force a warranty or credit life on you, so why would a car dealer? Why does APR go up if you don’t buy the dealer’s warranty? Cash flow shell games folks, remove their shells, and no more games.
Don’t fall into the gap!
If you owe more on your car than it is worth, if you lease, or if you put down less than 20%, you should get Gap Coverage from your insurance agent. Most people refer to it commonly as gap insurance". Dealers charge double what you can get it for, they charge $500-$700 when you can get it online directly from the source for less than 1/2 the car dealers price, check out Gap Insurance online. If you owe $20,000 on your car, but it’s only worth $16,000, you’re upside down. You total the car, or it’s stolen, your insurance company gives you $16,000. You must still come up with $4000 to pay off the bank, plus your $500 deductible! Gap coverage protects you against this. The better ones cover up to $500 of your deductible.
Scam #7: The "Dealer Prep" Scam (Excessive Fee)
About This Fee: A better definition here is "Excessive Charge", since this is not really a fraud, nor is it illegal. Most dealers do adequately disclose this fee on their paperwork. Many dealers even admit that its a way for them to recover some of their "losses" when discounting the car off MSRP retail price. But our position is that it is too excessive, and since it is printed permanently on their buyers form, what about the case when you pay full price on the car, now you have to pay $600 more in fees? Salespeople try to convince you that a team of NASA experts performed a 3 day 15,000 point check of your car. Dealer prep "covers their cost" of removing plastic from the seats, vacuuming, adding fluids, and preparing it for sale. Total time: 2 hours max. I’ve been there when picking up my new cars and know how long it really takes. Tons of our visitors report back that they convinced their dealer to drop this fee. MSRP stickers show these costs are covered by the car maker, so why does the dealer still charge you? Here’s the MSRP sticker from my Lexus:
See What I mean? It very clearly states that pre delivery service is included.
The factory pays the dealer for this pre delivery service. The day my Lexus SC300 arrived, it took the dealer 2 hours to peel film and cardboard, install fuses, check the liquids, perform a 10 mile test drive, and hand me the keys. I got out of paying it. If a dealer charges a $600 dealer prep, you’re paying them $300/hour for just 2 hours of work! Do YOU get paid $300 per hour?
How to avoid the fee: Often it’s permanently printed on the buyer’s order to make you think it’s mandatory, but many people make the dealer remove it by adding a credit on the next line. So if you see a $600 dealer prep on the form, have them add a $600 credit. If they won’t budge you need to decide how bad you want that car. I have no problem walking out of a dealer over a $600 fee. Go to the next dealer on your list, and tell them "Here’s the deal. Drop the dealer prep, and the deal is yours". Remember, Dealer Prep is not illegal, but it gives you zero intrinsic value. Either you agree with the fee, or you don’t.
Scam #8: "We’ll Payoff Your Loan OR Lease No Matter How Much You Still Owe!"
How the scam works: These are common ads on the radio and newspaper all the time. They rely on your brain to trick you, as if the obligations of your current lease or loan just magically vanish. You can’t just dump a lease, it’s a contract. By breaking the contract, penalties are stiff, in the thousands. They do get you out of your current lease, but these payoff penalties must be paid to your leasing company to end the contract. The dealer is not doing any favors at all for you, they just want your trade in so they can give you far below market value for it, while selling you a new car at a high profit. Then they resell your trade in for a high price, while you are stuck paying off the debt load of 2 cars. With this scam, if you are upside down on your car loan and you still owe $10,000 for it, the dealer pays off your loan, then you owe that $10,000 to the dealer. This gets financed along with the $15,000 car you are buying, now you are financing 2 cars for $25,000! Did you know that? Your payments are spread out over 60 or 72 months so you don’t notice what just happened. The more months they add to the loan, the lower the payments so you don’t notice. In fact, it’s possible that the payments could be less than your current loan, so you think you’re saving money when you just got shafted! Their ad made you think that trading in a car relieves you of your obligation to that car. It does not! This gets many, many, many people deeper into financial trouble. You are actually taking on double your current debt, when you thought you were dropping one debt for another and buying a new car. They misled you in their ad. Sure they did get you out of the lease or loan, but you are not really out of it. They dipped you out of it and then dipped you right back into it under their umbrella of debt. Very clever trick, but now you’re onto them. Next time you hear those ads, you’ll know what they’re up to. Here’s how ads would be worded if they were truthful:
"We’ll Get You Out Of Your Current Lease, then we’ll roll what you still owe plus penalties into your new purchase, so you can payoff 2 cars!"
How to avoid the scam: If you are in a lease now, it’s best to stay in it until the end. Ride it out baby, you slaughtered the cow, now you have to eat it. If you are upside down on a loan, now is not the time to trade in the car. You need to wait until the car is worth more than what you still owe on it. Try selling it privately. By mixing a trade-in with a new car purchase, you will lose the maximum amount of money possible. Don’t ever think you walked away ahead on a trade in. No one ever has. No one ever will. If you really need to get our of your lease, shift your strategy from terminating a lease early to a strategy of transferring your lease to another buyer via an auto lease trade. Use sites like Swapalease.com and LeaseTrader.com to transfer your car lease.
Scam #9: The Previously Wrecked Used Car, Sold "As Is" Scam.
How the scam works: The dealer tries to sell you a car that has previously been wrecked, only they tell you it’s in great shape, or lie about the wreck, or in some cases, they were honestly unaware the car was wrecked. The car has the federally required Buyers Guide sticker with the words "As Is, No Warranty" on it, which means you are buying this used car and assuming all risks, and cannot return the car, because you agreed to all accept any damages that accompany your "As Is, No Warranty". We sometimes hear from burnt car buyers who were not given this guide as required by Federal law.
Even "Certified Used Cars" can be previous wrecks, as we were surprised to find once after running the VIN on a certified used Lexus. We get emails all the time from people who believe the dealer when they are told the car was never wrecked, then they find out a few weeks later when they bring it in for service, or they run an AutoCheck Vehicle History Report showing that it was wrecked. When the scammed customers confront the dealer, they are reminded that they signed an "AS IS" paper, and have no recourse, because they can’t prove anything. The As Is paper is the best alibi the dealer has to fall back on. You however, have nothing to fall back on.
How to avoid the scam: Never ever buy a used car from a dealer "AS IS" with no warranty. When you buy a used car from a private person you have no choice, it’s "As Is". But from car dealers, try to get at least a 30 day warranty. If the car really is the cream puff they make it out to be, let them back that up with a 3 month warranty, otherwise they are just blowing smoke. You should always run an AutoCheck report on any used car before you buy, and get it inspected by a mechanic. That’s how we found that a Lexus dealer’s Certified Used Lexus had been in a wreck. Always have a mechanic put the car on a lift BEFORE you buy. They can tell you in 30 seconds if the car was wrecked. Many people fail to perform these crucial 2 steps. If you don’t do these steps, then DO NOT buy that car.
Scam #10: The Fake Vehicle Escrow Service Scam
How the scam works: This is actually not a car dealer scam, but it is a huge epidemic. I have been FIGHTING THIS FRAUD FOR YEARS, and it’s a growing eBay scam too, so it warrants inclusion in our list. Sometimes the scammers steal images from a car dealer and pose online as the car dealer. But mostly, these internet scams appear online as the seller of a used car. They place ads on Yahoo Motors, AutoTrader, Craigs List, eBay Auctions, eBay Motors, every known vehicle and motorcycle classifieds site on the internet has been hit. The scam begins with you buying a used car (or other product) online and you see a hot BMW or Mini Cooper, or Camry, or Mercedes, or Harley Davidson whose selling price is much lower than other listings for the same item. So you ask the seller a question. The seller replies with a "Dear Sir" form letter, rarely do they mention your name, it’s all scripted. It usually has poor grammar and spelling too, and the seller claims to be in Europe and cannot keep the car. Via email, they have you outside the eBay safe harbor, or whatever site you are using. He wants you to use a particular 3rd party escrow site, "he’s used them many times already." Unknown to you, he just created that fake escrow site only a few days ago and he’s lying. He is offering to pay shipping for the car! Do you know how much shipping is on a car across the U.S.? It’s usually about $900. That’s a big Red Flag. The "seller" has setup that fake escrow web site that looks better than most bank web sites and is about to steal your money. They convince you to register on the "escrow" site, and you get payment instructions to Western Union or MoneyGram the funds to the escrow company, then you never see your money again. No undo on the Western Union either, once your cash is wired, they can pick it up anywhere in the world in minutes, usually in UK, Spain, Romania, Russia, Netherlands, Europe. There are many twists to this scam, they often trick you by telling you they are signed up for escrow with Yahoo Motors, or eBay or Square Trade, none of which in reality do escrow or collect money for cars. You then receive official looking spoof phishing emails that appear to be from Yahoo, Square Trade, eBay, etc., with instructions on how to pay their "payment agents" via Western Union. The scams have the same goal, to trick you into thinking you are sending thousands of dollars to a trusted escrow company. This scam is so prevalent that from 2003 to 2004, I personally shut down over 600 fake escrow web sites through working with web hosting companies, police, eBay, and victims themselves. These sites pop up at the rate of at least a dozen per day, with thousands of scam listings and auctions running all over the internet at any time. Now that you know what to look for, they are easy to spot.
How to avoid the scam: NEVER EVER use cash wiring services such