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Analysing a scam ...

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Waveski, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. cjwils

    cjwils Member

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  2. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    Well I'll be ---

    I used the website above ; the ffl comes up as the name from the email I received.

    Gun guys love to talk guns. No real life ffl dealer would buy a pricey item without any discussion. Is it possible that the scammer usurped the name of an ffl that he lifted off the internet?
     
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  3. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

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    Well, he's not going to use his real name.
    Sounds like poaching two birds, there.
     
  4. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Member

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    What really chaps me is that while most of us will see this for a scam, many older folks (I am 64 and consider myself creeping up on older!) who are losing some of their mental sharpness can be easily scammed by this sort of thing. My own parents who were extremely careful and responsible financially (well in every way actually) but even they were taken advantage of a few times. These days there is a constant barrage of scammers from email, supposed "friends" at clubs, "contractors" going door to door (we were in the neighborhood...), and sales or buyer fraud. My siblings and I were not fully aware what was happening to them until after the fact. Turns out Dad had Parkinsons and the health coop refused to diagnose it as such for several years. Diseases such as Parkinsons that eventually have a more notable physical impairment also have a more hidden mental impairment. So he went untreated until an ER doctor blurted out he had Parkinsons and was astonished no one had told us! In the mean time he liquidated a fully funded annuity for pennies on the dollar, sold a waterfront house for a fraction of its worth, and cancelled a long term care policy he had paid into for 20 years just as he was about to really need it. All thanks to "helpful" scammers. Finally we had to assign a Power of Attorney to oversee everything and prevent any more damage so my mother could get by.

    I urge anyone coming across a scam to notify local authorities, postal service or whatever oversight authority (ATF, etc). They may not be able to do anything right away, but with enough instances they might be able to make an investigation.

    Personally, I only buy/sell firearms face to face with cash. Online items are only through established sellers with credit card which is very helpful to resolve fraud.
     
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  5. deadin

    deadin Member

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    Did the address also match?? If so I think I would call the FFL and have a talk,
    Personally, I like the idea of a wire transfer. It is instant and irrevocable. (I would never send a wire transfer, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't accept one....)
     
  6. Steve S.

    Steve S. Member

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    I am curious about this type of scam also; the bank tells you the CC cleared, then you ship the item and then the same bank tells you that the CC did not clear - this is where I get lost. Then, how much time past the first confirmation from the bank that the CC cleared does it take for the bank to realize that they were wrong on the first round and that the CC is a phony. If you do not ship the item until after the CC is really, really determined to be good, then how do you get hurt - all of the other parts of the scam being red flags I get. I guess that I have not transacted enough in this manner to get the CC and bank portion.
     
  7. cjwils

    cjwils Member

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    Definitely compare the address to the one listed at the ATF EZ Check site. I am not an expert on this, but I think ATF requires all FFLs to have a definite business address and to actually use it. The seller cannot say he is on vacation, or some such excuse, and ask you to use an address different from the one on the FFL.
     
  8. CWL

    CWL Member

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    I'm at a loss here. It's a scam. Why would you want to call a thief, so they can lie to you and promise everything's legit?

    Time to drop this scammer and move on.
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    That may be the problem, you can’t see anyone doing that.

    Folks that are in the business might. Like folks that buy a house on a property just for the land, for the right deal they demo the dwelling and start over or to keep it firearm related a guy that sees someone selling a .22 lr Colt diamondback for $400, might “jump on it”, even if it’s not perfect or might have issues. Call it a calculated risk.

    Hard to say without more details. In any case, not everything is a scam and as long as you have cash in hand before something is shipped by an FFL, you don’t have anything to worry about.

    I often tell people that personal checks are just fine, just takes longer. If they have been waiting for the “right deal”, they have no problem waiting another 7-10 days.

    If you don’t want to sell it don’t. If you don’t want to overthink every potential buyer, just put it on consignment at the nearest store and let them take some of the money, for your peace of mind.
     
  10. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    My understanding is that when the bank first says that the check has "cleared" they're really just issuing you credit - presuming it will clear. But if it doesn't clear - the credit you've been given is revoked and the "money" is taken back out of the account.

    What really astounds me is that I've heard anecdotal accounts of banks coming back to account holders 6 months later and saying "That check was bad." - that's how long the process can take.

    It would be really easy to get an electronic copy of a FFL. I've sold stuff online and I have electronic copies of FFLs - because that's what was sent to me as proof of where I need to send the item. What I don't get with *this* scam is that, at the end of the day, if the shipper ships to the address that has been verified with the ATF EZCheck system, it's still going to be sent to the FFL. If it's a Type 03 FFL (Curio & Relic) then that FFL type can't be checked at the website. But supposedly one can call the ATF and they'll verify that type over the phone. Maybe, if it is a C&R, the "purchaser" hopes the shipper won't check it?
     
  11. larryh1108

    larryh1108 Member

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    About 10 years ago when these phony Nigerian scams started, I was working at a used car dealer.
    Someone wanted to buy a cheap car for about $3500 and he said he would send a certified check
    to cover the cost and the transport to a port for shipping over seas (he arranged all the transporting).
    He said he would send $5000 to cover the cost of the car and the transporter who we'd pay when he picked it
    up since he paid us by check. He said to hold it a week to clear the bank and he'd arrange the pick up.

    Of course we would not do any such thing but we did copy it and deposited it to see what happened.
    I also called the "issuing bank" to see if it would clear. They said it was an actual account but it had been frozen because
    several of these checks were presented and were fraudulent. They said the check was no good.

    The owner deposited the check, knowing it was no good. After 2 days, the bank released the money into his account.
    The owner did not touch that money since it was not real but it took 2 weeks before his bank took it back because
    the check was returned to them NSF. So, it took 2+ weeks to make the circuit, not 2 days or a week.

    After 1 week, the check writer called to arrange pickup of the car. This was after we verified it as phony but before
    the bank bounced it back. We told the guy we called his bank and found it to be fraudulent and we turned the check
    over to the FBI. We never heard from him again.

    When the owner got the bounced/bad check back from his bank, he turned it over to the local police who said this
    was more common than we realized. It was fun to see how long a bank takes to realize a certified check is bad.

    As for wire transfers, to make it work you have to give out your bank routing number and account number for the transfer.
    No thanks! I do not wish to give strangers my banking info.
    For those who do pay by check, your routing number, account number, name and address are on your check.
    With printers the way they are today, do you want someone to have your banking info and name and address?
    No thanks!

    I pay my bills online using my bank's Visa/MC Debit cards as a charge card.
    You are protected.
    Checks?
    Not so much.
     
  12. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

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    I've got two theories on this, and both have been done before.
    1) It's a vacant address. Guy watches the shipping, waits for it to say 'delivered' and swings by to grab it, or 'delivery attempted, holding at depot' and heads there to pick it up. If someone points out it's gun, then the seller gets a talking to about that, and the buyer's off into the blue. Common for electronics and high-dollar flippable items.
    2) The more common one: the seller messages back, says "yeah, that sounds good," and the scammer says "I don't know how much shipping will be, I'll toss on enough to cover it, send back the extra." Then makes actions similar to 1.
     
  13. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Even if the FFL is legit (which I doubt), the scammer will have picked-up the gun and be long gone before the check bounces.
     
  14. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I sold a gun on GunBroker recently and the buyer sent a postal money order as requested. The local PO in my town of 1300 people didn’t even begin to have the funds to cash it. They did offer an opinion as to its authenticity, but of course that wouldn’t have helped me much if the bank had come calling. The silver lining is that the anti-counterfeiting features in a genuine USPS money order are fairly sophisticated. A guy with a color laser printer isn’t going to be able to duplicate the imbedded plastic strip easily.
     
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  15. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Member

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    Very true what you say about checks clearing but being reneged on later. Many years ago we rented out a house after we moved. When a renter left he gave us a final personal check, I cashed it, got money for it, and then he canceled his check and my bank debited my account (where I deposited the check) because the issuing bank said it was bad. When I called the issuing bank they said the bad check writer was a customer so they honored is request, whereas I am not a customer so too bad. If you cash a check at the issuing bank and you are not a customer they will fingerprint you abd charge you at least $15.

    I will never take another personal check for anything unless from a friend. The only things I trust are cash or credit card because the card company will refund you and take the responsibility to recover what they can on their own dime. I don't have much experience with postal money orders but I think Western Union transfers are pretty good, but bank cashiers checks can easily be worthless. I have bought and sold some firearms and accessories but it is always face to face and cash on the barrel head.
     
  16. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I’ve worked major fraud (Real Estate Fraud and Political Corruption Units) since 2007. It is so ridiculously easy to forge reconveyance deeds, deeds of trust, loan docs, notary signatures and seals, etc. it’s scary. (Anyone who owns property does so publicly, as all records are in the public domain so this info is all out there).

    Using laser printer technology to forge money orders, checks, FFL’s or just about anything else is easy-peasy. You’re doing your due diligence, which is good.

    If this doesn’t pass the smell test, and to me I personally would pass on it, don’t pull the trigger on the sale. You might lose a sale now, but that’s a lot cheaper than losing the gun to a thief, and/or your freedom if it’s a set up by some anti-gunner group or media outlet.

    Good luck!
     
  17. Rodentman

    Rodentman Member

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    I have another hobby involving buying/selling items that are expensive. I used to do a fair amount of transactions with strangers including those in South Africa, UK...

    I never cheated anyone nor was cheated myself. I consider myself quite lucky and now that scams are more rampant I no longer trade with strangers. I still buy and sell but I do so through authorized dealers of the items. I don't get as much $$ but I have zero risk.
     
  18. deadin

    deadin Member

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    Don't call what's on the copy the buyer sent, call what's on EZCheck.
    The assumption was that the FFL checked out as legit in EZCheck.. If it turns out he was a fake, I would think the ATF would be interested.
    Of course, the way to avoid all of this angst is to only do face to face transactions.
     
  19. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Is it possible through the use of photo shop the FFL is legit, but address is altered? Nondescript box comes to a house. Just curious. I don't sell guns this way so I'm wondering.
     
  20. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    I recently started selling some guns online and it is very interesting to get exposure to the whole system.

    The ATF requires the seller to get a copy of the FFL and it can be digital, and "it can't look suspicious or altered". (<--- That's not a real quote.....it's how I've interpreted what I've read from the ATF.) From what I can tell that is the *official* responsibility put on the seller.

    But the ATF has the fantastic EZCheck site. So what can be done is one puts the license number from the received FFL into the website, and the site comes back with all the details registered with them. If the addresses on both the FFL and the website match - then I figure it hasn't been forged and everything is good to go. Then one ships the item only to that address.

    So the empty or not-used-very-much destination put on a forged FFL (so the receiver swoops in and picks it up off the curb) doesn't seem particularly likely....unless a high percentage of sellers don't use the EZCheck system. Even so, especially with handguns, UPS requires adult signature on the receiving end. I've shipped one long gun and I don't recall if adjust signature was required - but I think so.

    I'm guessing the "preponderance" of the scam in this situation is what this scam always is - guns or not: Make payment look like good funds when they're not. I believe another responder suggested the scam could be completed (gun shipped to valid FFL and transfer done to the buyer) before the bank informs the seller the check was bad. Especially if it's a handgun where it must be shipped overnight. In that scenario the buyer could have the gun legally in hand from the FFL just a couple of days after the check was received by the seller.

    I have a hard time going with the scenario the gun is to get shipped to a "blank" address and left on the curb.....unless there are a high number of sellers shipping guns without telling the shipper they're guns. I *think* all gun shipments require adult signature. This scenario would also require a high number of gun sellers don't use the EZCheck system, which very well may be the case. But I sure am glad that system is there. It sure provides a whole other level of confidence for a seller to ensure it's going to the right place.
     
  21. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    A I think I stated previously the address associated with the ffl is that of nondescript looking residence. If anyone is interested in investigating whether the ffl is legit I can supply full info via p.m.

    This is the third time in 2 years I have come across a scam of this type ; I am glad that my personal radar is preventing me from taking the bait.
     
  22. FlSwampRat

    FlSwampRat Member

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    I found it easier in the era or fax machines to just have the cash faxed.
    ;)
     
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  23. GAF

    GAF Member

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    Back in 2006 I sold an expensive piece of electronic test equipment on eBay. I received a postal money order as requested. I took that to my bank and they would not even take it for deposit. They said it could be bogus, take it to the post office. I did . They look it up, said it was good and cashed it for me.
     
  24. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The last rifle I bought was with a cashiers check and the FFL was legit. Had I not talked to the previous owner for about 5-6 hours over a couple of weeks, I’d have sent a USPS MO.
     
  25. Eddietruett

    Eddietruett Member

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    I have received numerous scams like the OP posted. Probably some from the same person as the wording is always close or exactly the same. I have received 4 different ffl's by email and the first thing I do is look up the ffl owner and give him a call. All 4 are aware that their ffl is being used as a scam and all have the ATF involved Problem is all of these emails originate overseas. If you take the bait they have someone in the US that will send you the fake funds. They are playing the game with the check, they could care less about the gun as it would to the ffl dealer and the scammer will never claim it. They want the cash you might give them. You got to realize they send out hundreds of these emails a day. All they need is 2 or 3 to go along and it makes a big profit. I like to play them along and make them think they have a pigeon. I always respond with a high shipping cost. I've even had them agree to $1000 shipping on a $400 gun! Once they agree to the shipping price, I stop the emails for a day or two and they will start pressuring you to give an address to send the check to. Several times, I've given fake names and had them sent to bogus addresses. I've given my name and address is c/o the local sheriff's office. That stops the emails. Another thing that stops them is ask for a copy of the drivers license to verify age. Usually at some point, I'll just tell them that I know its a scam and then go on a rant telling them how sorry they are and always put in some choice descriptions of their mother and sister. I've tried everything at that point to rile them up and get them going but once they know you have caught on, they just move on. I'm sure they have heard worse than I put on them.
     
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