Beware Scam Firearm Sales Sites

Scam Alert iStock-1340115721
Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. IMG iStock-1340115721

U.S.A.-(– 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:

  1. Your caution should increase to higher levels the better the “deal” is.
  2. If they cannot be reached by telephone, beware!
  3. If there are few reviews, lacking detail, or only recent reviews, beware!
  4. Payment methods which do not use credit cards are a flashing warning sign.
  5. 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.
  6. If they do not require an FFL for a firearms sale, it is a scam.
  7. 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.

Dean Weingarten

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Thanks for this PSA Dean. I almost attempted to purchase ammo from one of these scam site, before reminding myself that – if it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t. Now I google any seller I’m not already familiar with – regardless of reasonability of prices. Have not yet reached point of discovering they want odd payment methods, though I’d probably consider that alone sufficient to walk away. This year I’ve googled multiple fraudulent ammo sites as I attempt to feed my shooting addiction – they’re everywhere. Unfortunately prices vary so much between vendors that I’m not willing… Read more »


Lucky Gunner produces a plethora of results as well but I am suspect of a few of them from time to time. Always apply the “too good to be true” test.


Yep! I thought I had finally found a NIB Glock 23 Gen4 in Battlefield Green. It was in the $400+ range. I noted that there was no way to list my FFL for transfer and became suspicious. Also, they wanted payment in Bitcoin and some other currency I neither use nor understand very well. I noted right on off of thar site.


Stupid auto fill. “I noped right on off of that site.”


Since scam sites became popular when ammo and reloading materials became scarce, I started putting in the name of the business with the word reviews, checking the address, checking the BBB and especially looking at the wording or word phrases used regarding the products being sold. If there is no phone number is a good suggestion but a valid address is the one I that has stopped me many times. Therefore, I stick with dealers that I have done business with in the past and pay a little more but have never been burnt or use businesses that are suggested… Read more »


We pay for internet police. We just don’t get the service. NSA, Homeland Security, etc are to busy spying on Americans. Rigging elections.


Arny, spot on right!


Don’t forget “Whois”. You can find out when the site was registered and if it was within the last year BEWARE!


Suffice it to say, I was bitten once, late at night, after “finding” something I had been looking for for quite a while. The FFL thing almost tipped me off, but I’ve had at least one bonafide transaction where the dealer contacted me afterwards for the FFL I use. It was my first encounter with someone wanting a transfer type of payment, but I knew many cheats had screwed dealers on GunBroker with checks, even PayPal. Luckily, it wasn’t an especially painful amount, but I hate feeding thieves.

Dangerous Dave

Unfortunately, I fell victim to one of these online scams while trying to purchase a shotgun. I found out the hard way that Zelle Pay offers absolutely no consumer protections against fraudulent charges, despite being hosted by my large and reputable banking institution. Neither Zelle, nor my bank would do anything to help and my cash was gone. Caveat emptor.


I have seen several “scammy type sites” selling primers and powder for prices like we had in 2010! Buyer Beware!


So, just why would any self-respecting gunny use PayPal?
Don’t we give the anti-gunners and the companies that support them, enough of our money? Giving money to PayPal, is like tipping the headsman as you walk to the block.


if paypal finds a gunny using their service, they will seize his funds, his customers funds, close both accounts and hold the funds indefinably. But, it the sale is a scam and never takes place this isn’t a problem.

The other Jim

Yes exactly. PayPal is a sleazy creepy criminal unlawful organization. I’m waiting the day some Attorneys General sue Paypal and PayPal be fined big, have their Money Transmitter License revoked, and they be ordered as a Bank subject to Federal Banking Laws and Bank Audits, and to pay interest on money in deposit accounts. They fought like crazy for “Money Transmitter License” status instead of being forced to be a Bank subject to Federal Banking Laws and Audits. They conspire with E-bay to defraud. After Wayfair SCOTUS Ruling e-bay Transmits the Sales Tax (not PayPal the Money Transmitter Licensed to… Read more »


Thanks for the Heads Up Dean. I buy very little Online, but when I do, it’s with long established businesses and not Fly by Night outfits. I’ve never purchased a forearm online in my life, preferring to engage in commerce with local business owners.
Besides, by the time you pay all the transfer fees, that “sale” is not quite the money saver it looks, at first glance to be. Most of guns that have caught my interest, after adding the FFL Transfer Fee, end up being within a few bucks of the price at the LGS’s.


Yes the last few online transfers were quite depressing once I got the total. It’s just more convenient usually. A person used to be able to find good deals. Not so much anymore.


great content great topic: all the more power to those that like using Crypto currency but watch out for digital payment methods such as Crypto currency. Crypto is nothing but legalised money laundering, that cannot be traced, at least at this point in time . I am not trusting to a financial institution or service to where I can trace my money or get a return or in no way is insured. once you transfer your wallet, the funds are instantly gone and you have to trust the other person on the other end to be honest..