Hi Frank and thanks for your post.
First, you might want to repost this in the proper zip code so that Florida agents will respond rather than California real estate agents and professionals. California laws and real estate practices differ quite greatly from Florida. In fact, only California, New York and Florida are usually the states with vastly different practices and laws than the other states--so reposting in Florida will get you much more accurate information.
Second, I suspect you have a Realtor with whom you're working presently to help you with the home purchase. Before you become worried over any issue regarding the listing agent and the escrow officer, start with your agent to get more information. Although real estate businesses are often a "family affair" (brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives all working together and often as "teams"), simply having relatives working on a transaction does not "equal" theft of fraud--and I suspect your agent may already have told you this. I do agree with Charles that any "close relationship" should have been disclosed to you in advance, but, again, as California agents, we're telling you what we'd expect here in Cal, and not what may be practice in the south.
More importantly, escrow company operations are overseen by state authorities, so it is seldom that anything of the magnitude to which you're alluding should take place. But I have to ask, why you would automatically be so worried about your deposit just because the listing agent and title company have some relationship? Perhaps there is more to your distress than simply the deposit--perchance you may possibly be having second thoughts on buying the home? If the latter is the situation, immediately talk with your Realtor about the deal. You can get out of the purchase within reason, and if you are suffering buyer's remorse, it's better to work with your agent to address that concern rather than deflect with concerns about a deposit. In all things, work with your agent--he or she is there to help you.
Allison James Estates & Homes