The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued an advisory letter on March 7, 2014 warning the public of internet scams directed at online gun shoppers. The scammers use a website to advertise exceptionally low prices for popular firearms, but then they fail to deliver the purchased goods.
Note: For those inexperienced with firearms transfers, only licensed gun dealers, known as Federal Firearms Licensees ("FFLs"), may engage in commercial sales of firearms. Guns may not be purchased by mail order. Instead, an FFL may only sell a firearm after obeying all applicable local and federal laws, particularly completion of a background check of the buyer in person using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). A buyer may purchase a gun from an out of state FFL; however that out of state FFL must transfer the firearm to an FFL located in the buyer's own state. Once the local FFL receives the firearm, that FFL must confirm the buyer's identification then complete a NICS check of the buyer. NICS check is conducted by using information provided by the buyer on Form 4473. After a NICS approval, the local FFL may then transfer the firearm to the buyer.
The recent scams have collected money from buyers, but they have failed to ship any firearms. To avoid this problem, the public may use BATFE FFL eZ Check to verify the bona fides of an FFL. To do so, the buyer may request the FFL's basic license number. That number can then be verified by using the FFL eZ Check website: http://www.atf.gov/sites/default/files/assets/Firearms/FirearmsIndustry/030714-final-advisory-fraudulent-ffls.pdf. In obvious cases of fraud, no match is found for the number provided. When the FFL eZ Check does provide a match, all available identifying information for the FFL on record should be used to confirm the identity of the seller.
Arsenal Attorneys previously became aware of the scams similar to the ones described in the ATF warning letter. It reminded us of the importance of dealing with a known FFL. Also, any well known, reputable FFL should have postive reviews available to read on the internet. Finally, any offer which seems too good to be true, probably isn't true.