gunsamerica.com reports that police have nabbed Internet fraudster Paul Webster. Not to put too fine a point on it, Webster has been selling guns that don’t exist. Lots of them. “He has claimed victims from nearly every popular internet discussion forum, posting guns for sale several hundred dollars below their value, and he has also surfaced on all of the major gun buying and selling websites, as well as the internet gun auctions.” gunsamerica.com is pissed—at other blogs . . .

GunsAmerica is the only website involved in this case that has had active and aggressive contact with law enforcement. Emails to several internet selling venues and discussion sites with buying and selling boards by the USPS went unanswered, and the case would have gone cold. Listen up internet gun community!! We can’t be silent about internet fraud.

Roger that. According to the gun sales site’s timeline, Webster has been on the loose since 2008. In the interests of providing an ounce of fraud prevention, here’s gunsamerica’s advice for buying a firearm from a private source.

  • If it is Too Good to be True, ITS NOT TRUE. – Everyone knows what guns are worth. We have price books even. If you see a gun for sale at hundreds of dollars under its value, there is a 95%++ chance that it is a scammer trying to get you to contact them. Also, never agree to do anything even questionably illegal. With that you have a 100% chance that it is a scammer trying to get you to send them money without the ability to report it when they rip you off.
  • New Sellers – No offense to new sellers here or anywhere else online, but the facts are that our fraud prevention system catches fraudulent accounts, usually very quickly. If you see a new seller with no transactions, get their payment address and contact information from them before you agree to anything. If you use Google Maps you can often get a street view and ask them what color their house is, how many neighbors they have, etc., to see if this looks like a regular person selling their own guns. THE MOST COMMON type of scam these days are “mail forwarding” services that involve these mailbox pack and ship places. If you Google Map someone’s address and it comes up as a shopping center or anything besides a residential house the seller can identify, steer clear.
  • No Knowledge of Product – When we send out a security warning on a suspected fraudulent account we get back probably 5 responses saying that they didn’t send money for every one that did. These 5 people often say “he didn’t know anything about the gun” or “he didn’t answer my questions” and even “he hung up on me when I asked the serial number of the gun.” Ask questions that only the owner of the firearm could answer and you’ll weed out the marjority of fraudsters out there.
  • Pop Me a Cellphone Picture – Most of us have been walking around with camera phones for more than 5 years now. If the person is a new seller, or your suspect something, there is nothing wrong with asking them to pop a quick cellphone picture of the gun that they can text or email to your phone or computer. It is a leap of faith to send a seller money with no guarantee of them sending you what you paid for. A quick picture to verify that they own the item is not a lot to ask.

 

8 Responses to Police Nab Firearms Fraudster Paul Webster. Finally.

  1. Some of my gun friends have had good luck with Gunbroker.com, but I’ve never been down with buying used guns (or anything else) sight-unseen because there’s no recourse if or when something goes south. I even know a state court judge who’s been burned on eBay.

  2. My experiences buy guns online have been all positive. Luckily. When you’re on the buying end you definitely have to exercise a little blind faith.

    The biggest issue I have is people over-rating the condition of their guns. The couple of guns I’ve purchased have been either NIB or like new.

  3. I’ve purchased several firearms and spare magazines over Gunbroker and Auction Arms, and never had a problem. Check feedback, establish comms with the seller before sending a check.

  4. I have purchased dozens via online sites, and never encountered fraud. HOWEVER, I think people who are first time listers should send the gun and then get payment. It reverses the issue of trust, to assume the most trust should go with the best track record.

    If I can trust someone to take my $500 money order and then send me the gun, they can trust me to take their $500 gun and then send a money order. If not, then I’ll likely pass.

  5. Doug, your heart is in the right place but I doubt any of us will be shipping anything before payment is recieved. I have purchased many items on eBay and a few on Gunbroker and have never had a problem. Having said that, I have never had the faith to actually buy a gun on Gunbroker even though many of my friends have without issue. Besides, most of the stuff on Gunbroker is pretty overpriced.

  6. gunsamerica shouldnt be advising anybody as they border on constant investigations themselves – with dozens of complaints to the FTC about their “clandestine” website & strange customer handling – even the FTC doesnt know where they actually operate from, who they r, etc… if they’re actually here in the U.S. at ALL!! Give MY critical info/name to who… gunsamerica? And just who IS “gunsamerica” … do U know?!! R u POSITIVE?!! DIDNT THINK SO!!

    STAY WITH gunbroker & auctionarms… they r THE most legit in the biz that I know of… and Ive done my homework, BELEIVE ME (as u can tell).

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