If the website doesn't offer secure forms of payment, or forms of payment that offer the buyer protection you should consider that a major warning sign. There are no excuses.
Do not pay by Money Order unless it's to a friend or someone you know you can trust. Money Orders are extremely common for fraudulent activity.
Do not pay by Bank Transfer unless it's to a friend or someone you know you can trust. Once the money has cleared your account it's gone, and you have little or no recourse to get it back.
Do not pay by Credit Card if you are paying into someone's bank account or purchasing a Money Order. Credit Cards are great for online transactions, but if you use the card to deposit into someone's bank account or fund a Money Order then it's treated as a Cash Advance from your Credit Card, which means that the funds sent to the account are sent as cleared funds which are unable to be stopped, as a result you are not protected.
Escrow is a common method of handling transactions, but you should always choose your own Escrow service, and not one that is recommended by the seller.
www.escrow.com is one of the more popular reliable Escrow services.
Western Union is being used because it's totally anonymous and there's no way to recover the losses. Western Union itself has a warning/tip on their website that their service should only be used to send money to someone you know.
Taken from Western Union website
Sending money to someone you don't know? You could be at risk for consumer fraud.
The Western Union Money Transfer service is a great way to send money to people you know and trust. If you need to send money to someone you don't know well, you may be putting yourself at risk for fraud.
Because we care about consumers, Western Union urges you to protect yourself from fraud by considering the following:
* Never send money to a stranger using a money transfer service.
* Beware of deals or opportunities that seem too good to be true.
* Don't use money transfer services to pay for things like online auction purchases.
* Never send money to pay for taxes or fees on foreign lottery winnings.