Obviously you don't want to trust a complete stranger with your life savings (or even a lot of your cash) but when you're dealing at the low end of the market then IMO it's not worth spending time doing any due diligence.
I have a quick look to see where the domain is currently (often parked at Sedo or similar) and look at the who.is, and that's about it. If the person is a stranger to me, I take account of their standing and rep on whatever forum I found them on. I've never yet been disappointed or cheated in any domain deal. The worst thing that's ever happened was that one deal took ages to go through but all the delay was because of escrow. It wasn't the buyer's fault.
How about you? Do you tend to trust people you don't know or not? What figure would make you want to use escrow?
One funny thing that happened to me was that I'd bought a cheapo domain from a guy I didn't know (met him on a forum) and when he did the push, he accidentally pushed his entire portfolio to me. I couldn't figure it out at first. Anyway, I took the one I'd paid for and emailed to tell him what had happened. Boy, I could hear his heart beating from thousands of miles away. LOL! Of course I gave all the domains back to him, but I bet he'll never make that mistake again. Has anyone else got any strange or funny domaining stories to tell?