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How to avoid getting burned in an internet gun sale.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by harmonic, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. harmonic

    harmonic member

    Aug 10, 2007
    I frequent another forum where posters can sell guns, much like this one.

    A guy offered up for sale a highly desirable model. He only had about 5 posts.

    He got some immediate responses. One respondant asked for pictures, but when he saw the interest said to forget the pictures, that he'd take it. The handgun was $1100 and he sent a postal money order.

    The seller's address was a PO Box at one of these package/UPS stores that also rents such boxes. The buyer got burned and since it's just one transaction, no LEO agency appears to want to get involved.

    What can we do to protect ourselves? I hate to be hard nosed but I think from now on, before I buy over the net, I'm going to require a few things.

    1) A hard line phone number.
    2) A legit street address.
    3) References?
    4) Should they have a specific posting history?

    I know that I've posted a few items for sale and posters said they wanted to buy. They said they mailed the check and that I could go ahead and ship. And, you guessed it, the check never arrived.

    What are your ideas as to how to protect ourselves when buying merch off THR?
  2. Eric F

    Eric F Senior Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    well for
    1 if you are the seller you are an idiot for shipping before the money clears.
    2 my bank has cashiers checks for these they will cancel the check if there is a discrepency even if it has already been cashed.
    3 never deal with out a real varifyable name and address.
    4 try to go through paypal they have dispute protocalls
  3. Big45

    Big45 member

    Oct 5, 2007
    behind enemy lines...NO MORE. Made it to Free Ari
    I've bought off other boards, never this one, but if I did I would apply the same basic principles. I look at post count. I check the feedback areas. Someone with no feedback or 25 or less posts...I'm not even going to think about it

    just me
  4. nalioth

    nalioth Mentor

    Jul 9, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    When I buy:
    I look at post count, I search on other boards (and google) for the seller, and go with my 'instinct'. Sometimes '1st time posters' here are long-time members in good standing on other forums. If it seems too good to be true from a 'never before seen 1st time poster', it probably is.
    I try to only use US Postal money orders.

    When I sell:
    I don't take personal checks, only US postal money orders or certified funds.

    I don't ship until I've got the cash in hand from the bank (unfortunately, U.S Post Office money order counterfeiting is a big business).

    If you buy a gun through paypal, they are very likely to freeze all the funds in both of your accounts and cancel your accounts if they find out. If you have a dispute to resolve involving a gun purchase, this is what you're looking at.

    http://www.gearpay.com is a very 2A friendly electronic fund transfer service.
  5. politicalgeek

    politicalgeek New Member

    Feb 19, 2007
    Central Ohio
    I would personally stick to sites like Gunbroker, which have rules and regs that can be enforced, and face to face in state sales.

    I am young, but have always been a little distrusting of things. I have yet to buy a handgun or rifle on line.

    I am not saying the community trading posts, like here on THR and other areas, are bad. I think if you follow the 4 things you posted you would be OK. THR has a user name search option, so another idea would beto search 1) the individuals posts and 2) search the forum for any feedback on the individual. Maybe send a PM to some of the moderators to see if it is a legit seller or someone they had issues with.

    As to selling, pay pal or other online payment, would not be a bad idea. Again rules and regs that can be enforced to ensure a good transaction.
  6. Werewolf

    Werewolf Senior Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    How to avoid getting burned in an internet gun sale?

    The answer is the same one I gave each of my 3 daughters regarding not getting pregnant.


    Meaning if you do business on the internet enough times you're gonna eventually get burned.

    The internet is almost the perfect venue for con-men/ripoff artists to ply their trade with little or no risk of getting caught or called to account.
  7. harmonic

    harmonic member

    Aug 10, 2007
    Not even if you hold the merchandise for a week after cashing? I'm doing that right now, as a matter of fact.
  8. Noxx

    Noxx Participating Member

    Jun 8, 2007
    I do some dealing online, and around the various forums.

    I follow different rules for myself depending on the amount involved, if we're over a couple hundred bucks I want a real address and a land line, and usually only deal with postal money orders.

    Over a thousand dollars I want the transaction to go through a verified store-front FFL who will act as an escrow agent to make sure all parties are satisfied. I don't mind paying the associated fees, but once I hit that amount of money I want surety.

    On the other hand, under a hundred bucks, if we have an agreement I've been known to ship before payment, send cash, etc, etc, at that dollar amount I figure if you screw me, eh, Karma comes around and I know one more scammers I.P.
  9. crebralfix

    crebralfix member

    Mar 7, 2004
    Simple answer: don't do online sales.

    Be patient, use Elite Deal Seeker, and do it face to face.
  10. Shaner

    Shaner New Member

    Oct 14, 2007
    Blue Grass, Iowa
    I haven't bought/sold anything off of here, but the sister site TFL is where I've done all of my sales.

    Obviously, the best to protect yourself is to never do business online. However, since there's no sign of online sales going to the toilet, I can only say to do some research.

    If the member is new, then I wouldn't even bother without disclosure of history of other sales on other sites. I look at seller's feedback on the forum and occasionally PM the buyer to get the straight poop.

    I think you're pretty safe buying from one that's done quite a bit of business as a private seller. Generally speaking, established members on gunsites are more honest. Some sellers own their business and advertise here. They don't want a tarnished reputation on a firearms related board. News travels fast...

    There's always the risk. But, I've been screwed over by big box stores right in front of my face, so I think it's pick your poison...
  11. atblis

    atblis Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2005
    Neither here nor there

    There are absolutely no reasons to avoid selling online provided that you follow these procedures. Buying is another matter.

    Don't ship anything till payment clears. Consult your bank about this. Tell them you want to be certain that everything is legit.

    Personal checks are just fine. Make it clear before you sell that you will not ship until payment is cleared by your bank. Make sure you communicate with the buyer. If the bank tells you it'll be 15 business days to clear a check, email the seller and tell them that.

    Ship only to a verified FFL. You can go to the ATF's website, and check the ffl number. It'll tell you what their address is. I would have absolutely no qualms about shipping to a verified FFL. Make sure the address you are shipping to matches the one the ATF has on record. Call the FFL to make sure they are expecting the package.

    Online FFL Checker

    That's a stolen handgun. I can't imagine why LE would not be interested in that.

    You have to ship a handgun to an FFL holder (unless it is in state). I don't think we're getting the whole story here.

    So, basically if I get my money, and the gun goes through an FFL, I don't need to know anything else.
  12. dirtyjim

    dirtyjim Participating Member

    Sep 2, 2007
    alvin texas
    i bought & sold a few guns online. if i'm buying from a forum i'll get a phone number & close the deal over the phone. i'll also ask them what other furums they are on if the have a low post count. i will not take a check under any cirumstances, if you go to their bank & cash the check or to a check cashing place to cash it & they give you the cash then it turns out to be hot it is up to you to return the money to the bank or check cashing place & then try to collect the money from whoever wrote the hot check. when i buy or sell i use postal money orders because they can be cashed at the post office & you will know right away if its a fake. but if the postal nomey order is lost or stolen it will take at least 2 months to get a refund if it wasn't cashed.

    the only problem i ever had with any online transaction was with a seller on gunbroker that had very good feedback, my payment was lost in the mail & instead of trying to resolve it & let me get another postal m.o overnighted to him along with a photo copy of the receipt from the first one so he would know it was sent. instead of working with me to fix it he had to act like a prick & since i paid him once i wasn't about to send him any more money until the post office issued me a refund for the first m.o. i sent.
    in fact i outbid him on a rifle this morning, i'm gonna test his wallet
  13. xrod69

    xrod69 New Member

    Aug 12, 2007
    i have low post count trying to sell 4 sigs thats why id rather do FTF no taker yet.
  14. toivo

    toivo Senior Member

    May 27, 2005
    New York State
    Get a phone number and address and verify it through MapQuest, Verizon People Pages, or something similar.
  15. U.S.SFC_RET

    U.S.SFC_RET Participating Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    The Old Dominion State
    Use your head and use the good advice mentioned on the board. I have done good online business on THR. Looking on the bright side of things it is a good way to meet people. Research whom you are dealing with thoroughly.
  16. doc2rn

    doc2rn Senior Member

    Aug 6, 2006
    SW Florida
    Both use the services of FFL! This makes sure that no fraud is involved.
  17. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Senior Member

    May 26, 2007
    Northern California
    There has to be some sort of escrow service available. A five second google search brought up this...


    For a $1,000 gun, the standard fee would be $32.50, well worth it in my world.

    I was also thinking that an FFL dealer may be willing to act as an escrow service. Over a certain amount of money, I'd be more than willing to pay an escrow service fairly.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2008
  18. MikeS63301

    MikeS63301 New Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    I wouldn't buy anything more than a Saturday night special over the internet, and I'd be hard pressed to even do that. I've been in the music business for years and dealt music gear via ebay and other means on the net for a while now. There are more scams and idiots selling stuff on the net now than ever.

    Postal money orders mean NOTHING! You're just as safe with taking a personal check and waiting for all funds to clear your account. There are some fantastic looking phoney postal money orders out now.

    If you're going to get hooked up with Paypal, get a dedicated bank account to do this. When the money shows it's arrived in that account transfer it to another account. Paypal has a building full of all sorts of merchandise that's being held due to disputes. They will also freeze both the sellers and buyers bank accounts and hold the money in their bank if there's a dispute. Once the money is in their bank they're in NO hurry to help either the buyer or seller. I don't think you're allowed by Paypal rules to pay for firearms though their service.

    Go to your favorite gun shops in your area and have them help you locate what you're trying to find. They have people they've dealt with in the past and they can trust.

    *in my humble opinion, your milage may vary*
  19. OldBillThundercheif

    OldBillThundercheif New Member

    Oct 13, 2006
    Now, if that was an ad, it is one I would pass up. Low post count, poorly written, vague description of the item, no photos, ect...:neener:

    Sorry xrod, I'm just jerking your chain. Good luck selling your sigs.:D
  20. Soybomb

    Soybomb Senior Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Don't cash the postal money order at your bank cash it at the post office. They can verify it as genuine and you'll walk out of the post office with cash.

    Anyway I've been buying and selling online for quite a long time, use your smarts and its no biggie. If some new guy pops up out of nowhere with no reputation don't send hundreds of dollars to a PO box. Get some contact information from the seller. Does he have an ebay account with good feedback? Is he on other forums? Do you have his home phone number and address? If you look him up in a phone book does that name and address come back to the one he's asked you to ship to?

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