From time to time, the Department of Business Oversight posts warnings about fraudulent on-line escrow companies.  According to the Department, these fraudsters use stolen identities and credit card numbers to open a Web hosting account.  They then upload content files to the Web hosting server to create a phony site.  These sites often claim to be licensed by the Department and may provide a link to the Department’s website.  Either the license number is fake or it has been stolen from a legitimate company.  To add to the deception, the website may display logos from the Better Business Bureau, VeriSign Secure, TRUSTe, and even the Internet Fraud Complaint Center.

The Department licenses hundreds of independent escrow companies but only a handful (and I mean you can count them on one hand) are licensed as online escrow companies.  You can find a list of licensed online escrow companies on the Department’s website.

Here is the Department’s most recent warning:

The Department of Business Oversight has been notified that fds-inc.net is offering escrow services over the Internet and is falsely advertising that it is Funds Disbursement Services, Inc., license number 963-2324, a valid escrow company regulated by the Department of Business Oversight. Fds-inc.net is not a website of Funds Disbursement Services, Inc. and is not licensed to conduct escrows by the California Department of Business Oversight.