Sadly, there are already a lot of hoops to jump through when you are buying or selling a firearm. There are also many opportunities for scammers to hinder the process further. There are scams on both sides of the fence – buying and selling – and many end in the loss of hard-earned money and scammers getting away with criminal behaviors that prey on innocent people. They also prey on those of us who should know better, but that fault is due to the sophistication that some scammers employ. These include presenting realistic FFLs and other key safeguards. Here is a closer look at how this process works.
Common Gun-Selling Scams
Some scammers who try to sell guns offer a few variations on scams that you can spot if you look carefully. Most gun scams revolve around a price point that is in reality, too good to be true. They may offer you a common gun at a great price or something so popular that the price is out of your budget until you find these “angels” who are selling at an unbelievable price. That is the first thing to look for when you are shopping for a gun; “is the price too good to be true”. Many times, they pair a great price with some kind of sad story as to why they are selling the gun so cheap. It is usually a crisis and requires that you act quickly before someone else snatches up “this amazing deal.”
A high-pressure scam occurs when the seller tries to make you act before you can think. They may let you know that they have a few offers on the gun but will let you have it at X price if you buy it today. They may try to get you to make the purchase fast before someone else buys it. It is an excellent deal, and they need the money badly because of [insert tragic event.]
Any time there is pressure to buy quickly, there should also be a red flag. High-pressure scams play on your need to act fast, and before you can slow down and recognize that you are being scammed. Remember that a crisis on the part of the seller is not your crisis. While your desire to buy a firearm at a great price is recognizable, the eagerness you present may make you a target. Most fast-paced sales are likely scams. You should:
- Slow down
- Ask the important questions.
- Research the seller – Do they have an FFL license and is it valid? Have you checked FFL eZ Check?
- Are they willing to accept payment through a valid and protected source?
- Have you verified that they have the gun?
These questions help you to protect yourself from scams that are designed to make you act before you can think better of the deal. Some good deals are too good to be true and that is the bait that a scammer will use to get you on the hook.
Selling Guns They Do Not Have
Many credit card companies do not allow their cards to be used for gun purchases making it difficult for legitimate businesses to conduct business over the internet. It also opens the door for a scam artist to sell a gun that they do not possess. Sending a check or paying with a money order or wired cash means that you are buying the gun blindly and trusting that the seller will do their part and send the gun to you once payment has arrived and cleared. Some online gun sites and auction houses offer a buyer protection feature, but those too can be risky as they still rely on an honest transaction. Gun Tab is an option that can help you avoid scams. As a buyer, you should insist on a payment platform that does not rely on the seller to send the gun once payment is received. To help you avoid scams, be sure that the payment method has a reliable safeguard that protects you and your money.
Thanks to modern photo manipulation software, they may even provide you with photographs of the gun you are buying. The key to avoiding scams is to be investigative. Look closely at the photo or photos and make sure it is the same gun. Avoid situations where the seller is only able to offer you a photo provided by the gun’s manufacturer. There will probably be a good story about why they only have that photo.
Selling Guns Illegally
You need a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to sell or transfer most guns in the US. The actual list of guns that require an FFL is set by the federal government – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – and will differ from one state to the next. Without an FFL you are not permitted to sell modern guns.
Scammers will try to use FFLs that are tampered with or altered giving buyers the impression that the transaction is legitimate and legal. The easiest way to spot altered FFL forms is to run the license number through eZ check which will help you see that the license is valid, where it is valid – state, address, etc., and who it is linked to. If the name of the person you are dealing with is not on the license, then you are likely being scammed. Also, if the FFL is listed in one state, but the seller is in another state, it is likely a scam. If you are a dealer or someone who sells firearms, you must reapply for an FFL when you move. There is a process that allows you to update some information, such as your address, if your shop moves from one address to another in the same state. Any information that comes up in eZ Check should match the FFL that the seller is providing. The same is true for buyers who present documentation that allows them to buy a gun. If the FFL is not valid, neither is the sale nor transfer of the gun. This process also means that buyers may lose the money they have sent to the seller.
In some cases, the intent is not fraudulent, but some issues can occur with FFLs and gun transfers that are initiated by software that the seller may not be aware of during the sale or transfer.
“Set-it-and-Leave-It” FFL Software Programs
Set-it-and-leave-it software programs are notorious for producing errors that result in fines by regulatory agencies. The problem is that regulations change and if the software program you use does not automatically upgrade its abilities to match those changes, then you are no longer in compliance. Sadly, you may not even be aware that changes have occurred and therefore unaware that your gun transfer or bound book is not in compliance. The number of licensees who find out via Report of Violations (ROV) or a Warning Conference that their software vendor is not a firearms compliance expert is disturbing.
How FastBound Can Help
FastBound drastically reduces the time and effort required to maintain accurate acquisition and disposition records: making sure required forms are filled out completely and correctly and that FFLs are genuine and valid. Scammers can take a legitimate FFL and alter it, then use it to scam buyers out of money while posing as a gun seller. The eZ Check link via FastBound helps you identify altered FFL documents and those that are no longer valid. If you are filling out the FFL for the first time, FastBound will check the document to make certain that the form is complete and correct before you file it.
The integrated eZ Check tool makes it faster to fill out new FFL documents and saves time by helping to ensure that the FFL transaction is valid. It can prevent delays in transfers due to incomplete forms or forms that are erroneous. Plus, it helps you quickly spot forged FFLs and those that are altered. The process is easy, and the many benefits can help keep your business in compliance and work with you to build a stronger and safer firearm business.
Buying a firearm is complicated, but it does not need to be dangerous or high risk. If you follow the steps required by law, you will eliminate many gun buying or selling scams. The first step is always to verify that you are dealing with a business or person who is legally permitted to sell or buy firearms. That process is made easier thanks to FastBound and the link to eZ Check. The second part that helps prevent scamming is to make sure that the seller will accept payment from a protected source. Never send money orders or checks as these are easy to steal and with checks, you are giving the scammer all the details needed to drain your bank account.
As mentioned, not all illegal gun sales are scams. Some occur because the forms are not filled out correctly or there are errors with the automated software that help firearms brokers complete the bound books or other required forms. Can you protect yourself from gun selling or buying scams? You can. Learn to recognize the signs of scams by looking for legitimate sellers with active and valid FFLs. Avoid being pressured into buying a gun quickly or with sellers that are only willing to take payment by money order or check.