SAN FRANCISCO - The consumer privacy organization, TRUSTe, warns all Internet car buyers to beware of recent incidents of fraudulent auto sellers on AutoTrader and Yahoo Autos who use TRUSTe marks to entice buyers into sending cash via money transfer.

These sellers falsely identify themselves as

TRUSTe member holders, in some cases using phishing e-mails to ask consumers to send large sums of money by wire.

Suspect e-mail messages ask consumers to complete transactions of items over a Money Gram transfer service to an individual posing as a verified TRUSTe agent. These individuals are not certified agents and in no way should be associated as such, warns TRUSTe. The requests falsely represent of a TRUSTe escrow service and should not be taken as legitimate.

TRUSTe encourages consumers receiving these e-mails to report them as soon as possible to TRUSTe's Watchdog Dispute Resolution Form:

TRUSTe is dedicated to enabling individuals and organizations to establish trusting relationships based on respect for personal identity and information in the evolving network world.

An example of the false e-mail message follows. Names and other forms of identifying information have been

removed from the example.

Excerpts of Sample Suspect email:

Dear (RECIPIENT), the seller (SELLER) started the transaction over the TRUSTe Secured protection program.

AutoTrader requires the payment for this item to be done through Money Gram money transfer service to a verified TRUSTe Agent. If you are not familiarized with the Money Gram money transfer services please click here.

The transaction is simple and will only take several minutes.

Note: The funds will not be released under any circumstances. We will hold the payment until you will send us your confirmation that you have received, inspected and you agree to keep the package. When we will have your confirmation we will transfer the funds to the seller.

How to make payment?

1. Locate the nearest Money Gram Office.

2. Make the payment with cash using the above TRUSTe Agent details.

3. E-mail us the scanned copy of the Money Gram receipt and the Motor Vehicle Purchase Agreement invoice.