ATF: Watch Out for Fraudulent FFL Scams


The ATF sent the following advisory to all FFLs last week:

Online Scams Using Fraudulent Federal Firearms Licenses
March 7, 2014


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is providing the following information to make you aware of fraudulent online firearms sales. Some individuals are using fraudulently altered Federal firearms licenses to sell but never deliver firearms online.

A typical online scam starts with an online firearm advertisement. Purchasers who respond to the advertisement by telephone or email receive an invalid, counterfeit copy of a license that appears to be valid. After sending payment, the purchaser never receives the advertised firearm(s) and the fraudulent seller removes the original online advertisement and contact information.

To help you avoid this scam, licensees are reminded that only transactions between licensees require the furnishing of a certified copy of the license. Licensees should consider only providing the basic license number to individuals (e.g., 1-75-12345). The individuals can use FFL eZ Check to confirm the validity of the license number before sending payment for firearms advertised online. FFL eZ Check is on the ATF website at If you have general questions regarding the FFL eZ Check system, you may contact the Federal Firearms Licensing Center at 1-877-560-2435.

You may also wish to contact other Federal, State, and local resources regarding internet fraud, to include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (, the Federal Trade Commission (, your State’s Attorney General’s office ( and your local law enforcement agency.

If you are a Federal firearms licensee who believes your license has been fraudulently used, stolen, or compromised, please contact your local ATF field office as soon as possible for assistance. A list of local field offices can be found at


  1. avatar William Burke says:

    ATF scare tactics to cool gun sales? AKA “false flag”? I would never put it past ’em.

    1. avatar Charles5 says:

      I’m going to go with no.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        It was a question, not a statement.

        1. avatar Charles says:

          It was a reply, not an accusation of wrongdoing.

    2. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

      I don’t get the impression that the ATF is a a breast of one mind. The high ups Senn to hate the 2nd amendment, but many of the agents people have dealt with seem to ent to look out for gun owners. I’m sure those agents are either not sent on some of the bad raids, our not promoted if they resist indoctrination.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        I hope I understood you correctly!

        1. avatar Andrew says:

          Go onnnnnn…..

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    “Please contact your local ATF field office as soon as possible for assistance. Heavily armed agents will be there shortly with a no-knock warrant and flash bang grenades to steal all your firearms and your bound books, because that’s what they do.”

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Keep on keepin’ it real, Ralph!

    2. avatar bontai Joe says:

      And they will kill your little dog too! Hee Hee Hee Hee (wizard of Oz reference, sorry, couldn’t resist)

  3. avatar Alan Longnecker says:

    I was going to buy a 460 from a guy with no feedback on GB. I went so far as to check the ffl registry for his town and looked him up, and called him. I almost bought it, but I ran into a guy locally who wanted to sell his. I’m glad I don’t live in CO. 5 min. transaction.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Good call. I always look at feedback. As well as their website.
      I’m negotiating on a double rifle right now, so feedback is kind of important.

  4. avatar Paul53 says:

    From the people who brought us “Operation Fast and Furious!” Guess they don’t like competition.

  5. avatar Heretical Politik says:

    Universal Background Checks will solve everything.

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      Not quite as well as no background checks…..

  6. avatar Leadbelly says:

    My commandments for all transfers: face to face only, in state only – whether it’s a private or FFL transaction. If I can’t get it locally, I’ll wait. For private transfers it’s cash only, and if it’s a gun I’m selling and it has ANY potential for misuse (I.e. handguns) I ask for a Missouri CCW. I’ve bought and sold a number of guns through Armslist, with no problems whatsoever. All it takes is a bit of patience.

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      Who died and named you God?

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        C’MON. They were clearly suggestions. Do you take every suggestion as an order? I’d suggest you not.

  7. avatar John McPherson says:

    Except for C&R exchanges which are subject to different rules. Now the public can really be confused

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      You’re right. I AM confused.

  8. avatar AlphaGeek says:

    Someone needs to tell the ATF about URL-shortening services. It’s just so 2004 to put in URLs so long that they wrap around to the next line.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      There’s a nifty way around that; it’s called copy and paste.

  9. avatar rlc2 says:

    Sounds like this came from my spam folder.

    “Hello My Good Friend, I am writing you from Nigeria where I am in possession of an FFL (see attached) that is ATF approved by my uncle whom you recall is a trusted official. I can guarantee you many copies of AKs and RPGs if you will only provide me with your banking numbers and a small sum as a proof of larger transaction”.

    Is there ANYONE out there this clueless, still?

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Prince Mbubi, right? Reminds me of my imaginary Nigerian golfer, Pat Mbele.

    2. avatar Randy Drescher says:

      Is that offer still good? Speaking of RPG’s, I wonder how many are over here. I hear the bradys say that you can’t possibly stand up to o’s magnificent guberment. I might be wrong here but I don’t think the armored carriers are as tough as a T72 & the 7’s sure seem to do a number on those. In Afganistan we lost 30 to 40 percent of our troups to RPG’s reportedly.

      1. avatar PhoenixNFA says:

        i was told there are a few in the registry. doubtful they have HE rockets, but practice rounds sure.

  10. avatar LSUTigersFan says:

    Hide your dogs!!

  11. avatar Kris says:

    “To help you avoid this scam, licensees are reminded that only transactions between licensees require the furnishing of a certified copy of the license.”

    I like how the ATF reminds us to sidestep any additional paper trail. no unnecessary record keeping. Got it.

  12. avatar IdahoPete says:

    Another way to see if a gun seller is a legit business is to call telephone information for that area code, and ask for a phone # under the business’ name. If they don’t have a listed number that you can call (and get an answer that is appropriate [“Ed’s Guns, Fred speaking”]), it is a good clue that there is something wrong.

  13. avatar Doc Diver says:

    A good friend of mine served for 24 years as a navy diver and then as a navy eod officer. According to him the only federal agency he would ever work for would be ATF. in his expirience ATF agents are typically pretty big gun guys

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Only when the guns in question are theirs.

  14. Hello this is the third attempt to Complain about a fraudulent F.F.L. Dealer;Arlington Arms;107 Hintz road,Arlington Height,Illinois,Owners name ;Jim Zembrock;Telephone;(847)774-9009.this Was suppose to
    hold an automatic 45,until I got a clearance from I.D.P.R.,Due to an arrest for trespassing Sleeping @O’hara airport between.At the time I did not know that a misdemeanor had to reported.So it took months and months ,to appeal,set up a hearing with I.D.P.R.S..I called Zembrock and Kept him informed on how the case was going.Anyway eventually my P.E.R.C. ( Permanant Employee Registration Card) had got reinstated.But Jim Zembrock was nowhere to found.I must of called faxed send notices to his address letting him know that the Case and my F.O.I.D. Card,and P.E.R.C. had been reinstated(fifty Times or more).Still no Response from Zembrock.The gun was purchased through Auction Arms,sometimes back in the mid nineties,its been so long now,but there should be a record of the weapon being transferred from the seller to a new buyer.I don’t have a serial number.But there should be some record of the transfer,and whatever terms that might apply.This either stole the weapon or, resold it,or returned it to the seller.

    I never received a word ,a refund ,or explanation as to where the weapon went,or where Jim Zembrock disappeared to.Oh by the way I sometimes work as an Armed Security Officer,I wish someone would catch this guy,I heard that he has pulled this kind of Shenanigan before on another black Security Officer from Indiana,he was killed before he could pick up his paid in full weapon.Could anyone tell me who else I can make this complaint to? I can be reached @ (773)289-8320 .Thank You For Your Time and cooperation;

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