Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) is issuing a warning about Vogue Escrow (or VoguEscrow), which is claiming an address in Fargo, North Dakota. The company claims to be an online escrow service. However, a customer complaint, in addition to further research performed by BBB, indicates this is a highly suspect operation with no actual connection to Fargo.
The complaint received by BBB alleges Vogue Escrow was selected to serve as a third-party escrow service in a transaction involving an automobile listed for sale by a private seller. When the complainant submitted payment for the car – with four $500 Vanilla prepaid debit cards, as Vogue Escrow had requested – the company contacted them to say they would also need $1,000 for ‘insurance.’ At that point, the buyer became wary and reported their experience to BBB. Further, when they made their concerns known to the company, the complainant says Vogue Escrow stopped communicating with them.
“Anytime payment is requested via prepaid debit card or through a wire transfer, BBB advises caution,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Both types of transactions are fairly anonymous and quite difficult to trace.”
A Google search of the address claimed by Vogue Escrow reveals it’s in an industrial park, and the building at that address was listed for sale as recently as late January of this year. BBB recently confirmed firsthand that this entity is not located at that address. BBB has also placed a call to Vogue Escrow – for comment – but no one answered. The entity’s website also lists their name as VoguEscrow. They have not responded to the message BBB left requesting a return phone call. The company is also not listed on the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website.
When looking for a third-party escrow service, BBB advises the following:
- Always research the company at bbb.org. It’s also a good idea to read customer reviews found through BBB and via other online sources.
- In Minnesota, escrow firms should be licensed through the MN Department of Commerce.
- Watch out for requests for payment via wire transfer or through prepaid debit cards. These methods of payment are extremely difficult to trace.
- Be aware that anytime you share the numbers on the back of a prepaid debit card or gift card with another party, that party can drain funds from them immediately.
- Be wary of any online service that’s just registered their domain name. Consumers can research websites and their history on websites such as http://whois.domaintools.com/, and others.