U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– When checking firearm availability and firearm prices on the Internet, this correspondent frequently comes across websites that claim to have highly sought-after models at extremely attractive prices. They are almost always scams.
The purpose of these scams is twofold: First, collect your personal information and credit card information, so it can be sold and or used to defraud you. Second, collect money via an untraceable payment system. Surprisingly, Paypal seems one way; another is one of the digital currencies; another is through the use of gift cards, and another is a direct bank transfer.
There is an old saying which applies: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
As humans, we are always looking to score valuable things with minimum effort. It is part of the genetic makeup of people who hunted and gathered to keep the breath flowing in and out. There is always the chance of finding that bonus of a super thick berry patch or the silly bison calf, which wanders into spear range just when you are huddled behind a bush. When we deal with other humans, there is a greater potential for deceit and fraud. It was difficult to pull off when we lived in close-knit clans and villages. Those who cheated received a reputation very quickly. The results were often unpleasant. As society and commerce grew with more unrelated people, the potential to cheat and not be held accountable became greater and more lucrative.
One of the “lures” which causes people to “bite” and get caught up in these scams is, occasionally, you come across an excellent deal. It usually doesn’t last for long. In the nature of things, great deals are temporary, of short duration. The temptation is to bite while the bait is in front of you. Often, in the process, people get caught in a scam.
Here are some telltale signs to help avoid these traps:
- Your caution should increase to higher levels the better the “deal” is.
- If they cannot be reached by telephone, beware!
- If there are few reviews, lacking detail, or only recent reviews, beware!
- Payment methods which do not use credit cards are a flashing warning sign.
- If there is no address listed, beware! If an address is listed, check it out with independent means, such as a realtor’s web site or a search on a map site.
- If they do not require an FFL for a firearms sale, it is a scam.
- Scammers often use a .net address.
One way to check, which this correspondent has found helpful, is to do a search for the name of the website and the word “scam”. In the vast majority of cases, there were plenty of people who explained how they detected the trap, how they avoided it, or how they regretted being caught.
It is easy to set up a website with images and details which look legitimate. Once set up, it is easy to duplicate it, shut down the old site, and open a new one with a different name. Thus, a scam site only needs to succeed in defrauding a few people to make it profitable. Unfortunately, we do not have rigorous Internet police, which track down tricksters and recover money that is lost. In reality, amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars disappear into scammers’ hands without any repercussions. If you lose a few hundred dollars, it is only noise to the authorities.
The best way to prevent the loss of assets to scammers is to avoid the scam to start. Be very careful who you give identifying information to. Be careful about giving out credit card information.
Remember: If it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Use caution, avoid scams, and enjoy the holidays.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.