How to Spot Fake Online Gun Dealers, Don’t Get Ripped Off!

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Bill’s wallet is $550 lighter thanks to an online scammer masquerading as a legitimate gun dealer, and he knows it could have been worse.

A retired doctor and avid shooter from north Florida, Bill did not want his last name used for this story. His saga began with a search for an FN 502, a tactical .22 LR handgun, which he wanted for steel challenge matches.

“I couldn’t find them anywhere,” he said. “Nobody had them, but then I found one website that had them in stock – Xtreme Gun Broker.”

Bill live-chatted with someone who identified himself as Carl, who confirmed they had the pistol in stock for $500 plus $50 for shipping.

“I was going to give them a credit card, but he said they didn’t take cards. They wanted PayPal or Zelle,” Bill said. “My girlfriend had a Zelle account so we sent the money through Zelle.”

Xtreme Gun Broker sent Bill a tracking number, which didn’t work very well. It was much different than tracking numbers he’d used for UPS or the USPS. It showed a trucking company and pictures of their trucks. Eventually, he was able to decipher that the pistol left Xtreme’s headquarters in Utah and made it to Alabama, but then there was a shipping snag, which Bill was told he could remedy for an additional fee.

“I got a letter that said there were ‘unforeseen circumstances,’ so they wanted me to pay $750 for a refundable insurance policy, so they could send the gun from there to my FFL,” Bill said. “I thought to myself that there was no such thing as a $750 insurance policy for a $500 gun. That’s when I realized I’d been had.”

He went to his bank to see if the funds could be recovered. To date, he has not recouped a single dollar.

“Other gun owners need to be aware of this. They need to be warned so they don’t get screwed like I did,” he warned.

I went onto Xtreme Gun Broker’s website and live chatted with someone who claimed to be Carl. I coaxed two phone numbers out of him. The first number, 385-222-2526, wasn’t working. No one answered the second number, 469-546-9248, a Google phone, until I live chatted that I was calling again.

We spoke very briefly. Carl had a distinct accent, possibly Middle Eastern. When I asked him where he was really located, he hung up and refused to respond to any more phone calls or live chat.

Scam gun websites are a growing problem. They steal millions of hard-earned dollars from gun owners every year. Here are some tips to help spot them so you don’t get swindled.

Clunky Websites

The best way to tell the difference between a scammer and a legitimate gun dealer is by taking a hard look at their website, and Xtreme Gun Broker’s site raises a lot of questions and a ton of red flags.

Xtreme has a miniscule internet presence. There are no comments, no mentions in chatrooms or blogs, or reviews on other websites. It’s almost as if it didn’t exist until very recently. That’s a massive red flag.

Their URL, ( https://www.xtremebroker(dot)com/) Xtreme Broker doesn’t match the name on the top of their landing page: “Guns Retailer.” In fact, there’s another website called “Guns Retailer” (https://gunsretailer(dot)com/) that apparently is affiliated with Xtreme. It, too, is a scam.

The biggest tipoff is the websites’ clunky use of language. English is a difficult language to learn, especially our idioms and expressions. It’s clear that much of the chatter on the two websites was written by someone whose native language is not ours. Some of their errors are actually funny.

Here are some examples from the websites: (SIC)

  • Remington is known for years as a brand of American ammunition, Therefore, you do not need to worry about the good and quality of his 9mm ammo made by Remington.
  • What is a FFL Dealer? Gunsretailer.com is licensed by the United States to engage in a business pertaining to the manufacture or importation of firearms and ammunition, or the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms through the issuance of a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
  • At the best discount rate for both licensed and unlicensed guns, ammo and accessories. Purchase out of the USA will be converted with regards with OANDA units accordingly. (OANDA units are used by currency traders.)
  • Smokeless powder is a type of propellant used in firearms and artillery that produces less smoke and less fouling when fired compared to gunpowder (“black powder”). However, they are used as solid propellants; in normal use, they undergo deflagration rather than detonation.
  • There are multiple misspellings. Primmers was my favorite, as in “Small pistol primmers.”
  • Our high-quality 30-06 ammo is perfect for all of your hunting needs. From hunting deer to sharks, this premium 30-06 ammo can take on any hunt.

Most scammers don’t go through the trouble of creating their own pages. They cut and paste from legitimate websites, and evidently from other sources.

This was posted in a review of the “.223 varmint rifle,” which I assume was lifted from a game-type website.

The two sites had other technical issues. There were links that did not work, the layout was poor – photos tended to overlap – and Xtreme’s site does not allow you to highlight, cut, and paste text. This is to prevent you from dumping the text into a search engine, to find the site where it was stolen.

Suspicious Payment Methods

I’ve bought dozens of guns online, and I’ve used a credit card to purchase every single one. If a gun dealer doesn’t take credit cards – runaway.

Not only does Guns Retailer not take credit cards, but they also prefer to be paid in cryptocurrency. If you don’t know anything about cryptocurrency, no problem. They have a “How to Pay” page (https:// gunsretailer.com/how-to-pay-with-bitcoin/)  on their website devoted to teaching their would-be victims how to create and open a cryptocurrency account and then pay with Bitcoin for the guns they’ll never receive.

Suspicious Contact Info

Xtreme claims its address is “1911 S 900 W, Salt Lake (sic) UT 84104.” Google shows that the only structure at this address is a pink Porta-Potty.

Guns Retailer’s listed address doesn’t show a state:  

LOCATION
Street: 141Kuhl Avenue
City: Atlanta
State Full: Atlanta
Zip Code: 30329

Neither website has a phone number or email address listed. Instead, they have a contact form, which their victims must fill out.

During our chat, Carl said his address is [email protected] – a free email service instead of a proprietary one.

All of these factors should serve as a warning to potential customers that the scammers want to conceal their actual locations because they don’t want to be found.

Takeaways

If you’re contemplating an online purchase and the website is clunky, poorly worded, requests a type of payment other than a credit card and the owners are difficult to contact, you’ll likely lose your money. Buyer beware. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially if it’s online.

In a perfect world, the proprietors of these fake websites would be dragged screaming from their homes and keelhauled, or at least arrested and charged with multiple felonies. Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen, since most of them operate overseas.

I hope these tips will make life a little harder for the scammers. They’ve swindled enough of our friends.

This story is presented by the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and wouldn’t be possible without you. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support more pro-gun stories like this.


About Lee Williams

Lee Williams, who is also known as “The Gun Writer,” is the chief editor of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Until recently, he was also an editor for a daily newspaper in Florida. Before becoming an editor, Lee was an investigative reporter at newspapers in three states and a U.S. Territory. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a police officer. Before becoming a cop, Lee served in the Army. He’s earned more than a dozen national journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. Lee is an avid tactical shooter.

Lee Williams

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henrymosley

The good thing about these sites is that it’s easy to check, because it’s possible to chat with representatives, although often when I tried to call them, no one would answer at first. The way you describe your conversation immediately suggests that this is a pure scam. Your suggested experience of testing the service via online video chat is quite good, as live chat, when you are contacted, is already a very good sign. You also need to watch the different reviews, and your tips on how to spot scammers are cool!

Last edited 1 month ago by henrymosley
pro2nd

If the “site” doesn’t take a credit card for payment it’s a scam site plan and simple.

Big George

I was almost ripped off by another on-line scammer; FIREMAN VALLEY.com. I had ordered 12ga. primers, but my payment ‘failed’ because my CA DL wouldn’t upload to their site, luckily! On a Google search, I found tons of blogs about these thieves! They even claim to be ‘Veteran’ owned! Maybe Ammoland could start a ‘scammers’ site we could all add info?!

Angry-NDN

There are a lot of flags on that site. As many have already said, if yhere is something that makes you question the site, you should probably trust yourself. I always look at the reviews on the website I’m buying from. The first thing on this date was all the reviews were November 19, 2021. There were like 3 reviews on the same gun with the same date. Just wow..

Good article.

GomeznSA

There is a valid reason the term “caveat emptor” was invented – there are always going to be folks out there looking for ‘bargains’ and of course others who are more than happy to take advantage of them. As others noted, if it looks/sounds too good to be true it likely is. Best defense is to know the market.
Never forget the classic line from Hill Street Blues: “let’s be careful out there”.

Bobocat

Looks like there might be another one out there, I was looking for a henry long ranger in .223 and of course, I could not find one. Up pops a website that had one in Texas. It had a box that wanted you to “order now” so I clicked on it. So far so good but then it asked for payment through Pay Pal and wanted you to let them know when you did this. I thought this was unusual and tried to call them and of course no answer. I tried to email them with the address listed and… Read more »

Dave

The scammers are going to blackpowder web sites that have classified adds and if some one is looking for a certain gun they pm the guy and say my friend has that gun you want here is how you contact him. They always want Zelle or Paypal and the price is to good to be true. Lots of fake sites are popping up with the Goex plant shut down for powder too. The site has plenty of powder and caps for really good prices.

Mrapdriver

On Instagram when a manufacturer like colt showed their new 3 inch pyhon I said that a black night sighted model would be nice. Then I had several fake dealers Message me that they had that model in stock in broken English. I responded that what I really needed was a phased plasma rifle in the 50 watt range. They had those in stock too and.

Rock

Dowdel Sports the same, I ordered 400 Hornady ELD-X bullets LAST MARCH… All I heard was CRICKETS for the past year… I cancelled last week and ordered from Cabelas, had them in 3 days CHEAPER !

doogie

Last year I was scammed on a powder purchase. The site refused me sending the funds to the site but rather to him using Zelle. I’m still waiting for 8 lbs of powder that will never arrive. Since then I’ve checked the web for sites that sell powder and the format foe the scammers is the same – they have all you want and always use Zelle. Stay away from them.

BB

https://www.safeprecisionammunition.com is another FAKE company. It happened to me with ammo. They said Zelle wasn’t working & needed paypal only, no card. Then suggested send it as “not a company”. I was dumb and did it-even after a couple red flags & my gut telling me no. I did get my $ back from paypal and even turned in the web site to the federal scam agency, but I honestly don’t expect them to do anything about it. Bottom line: trust your gut!

Ed

I would suggest one way to verify a gun dealer is to go to the ATF website and download the FFL list. If you can’t match name, address, and / or phone number, there is a problem.

KenW

My brother asked me about Zelle and mentioned an online source for primers.
Primers! No one has any. He didn’t recall the web site, but I found it anyway.

I looked online and found USA Reloading and checked out the site and payments, shipping, etc. Zelle, Crypto, and some goofy way to pay. Also, shipping was $20.00 no HazMat!

“USA Reloading scam” was the top link I found when I did a search on USA Reloading

mgkdrgn

You can’t use ZELLE or PAYPAL to accept payment for firearm transactions.

KenW

Why not?
“Friends and Family” with PayPal, which is nothing but a funds transfer, as is Zelle.

3l120

That’s the rub. These sites will only accept PayPal F&F. If you try to pay with PayPal and don’t want to use F&F, they refuse. No refunds on F&F, so you are out of luck. Wife found that out the hard way with a non-firearms purchase.

Son of Waylon

Don’t buy from extreem tactical either, they shut down I believe in November-December and A lot of people got ripped off including myself. I ordered a slide back in December…..and it’s not here.

Grigori

Recently, trying to find a G-23 in battlefield green, something as rare as frog teeth, I found them offered at buyguns-online.com for $474 or somewhere thereabouts. I immediately jumped on it and began filling out a form. I was put off by the lack of a place to list my FFL before proceeding further. Thinking that surely the FFL blank will appear eventually in the process, I continued. When I got to the payment part, they only gave PayPal and Bitcoin as payment options. As noted in the article, the website was very clunky. I backed out and got the… Read more »

buzzsaw

As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Like the website I saw a couple of months ago that had primers and a big selection of powders, all in stock, and at early 2019 prices. Yeah, right…

They didn’t appear to take credit cards. Checking in with places I have done business with in the past, sure enough, Out of Stock as far as the eye could see.

Last edited 2 months ago by buzzsaw
Wild Bill

Thank you for the warning, info, and tips!

musicman44mag

And is the ATF and FCC trying to arrest them and bring them down with the help of the foreign government? Why are they still listed and not blocked? Can’t they do that? Buy at your local store if you are going to buy a new gun. I like being able to get stuff from the internet but if uncle joe stops all shipments of firearms, ammo and parts like he wants too, the local shop is the only place that you will be able to buy new things. If we don’t support local than we will be left with… Read more »

3l120

Many of these are OCONUS. Nothing the government can do.

Magnum

I have run into a couple of similar sites offering high end bourbons. Fortunately I had already been educated about Zelle when someone transferred $5000 from my credit card. Thankfully the CC company saved me on that one!