1. For local face to face deals.
First and foremost, we highly recommend face to face transactions when possible. We recommend that you buy in person, and in cash. The CFP has received a lot of reports of people being defrauded when trying to buy firearms over the internet. The most common way is that the unsuspecting buyer sends the seller an EMT(email money transfer). Then the fraudulent seller does not ever mail out a firearm. Therefore the buyer is out of their money and has no way of finding the fraudulent seller. Buying in person, and in cash is the best way to avoid being defrauded.
The second reason we recommend buying in person and in cash is so that you will not be disappointed in the condition of your purchase when it arrives in the mail. When you buy in person, you can physically inspect a firearm before you even agree to a final price. When buying from only seeing a digital photograph, you cannot inspect and verify the condition of the bore, crowning, smoothness of the action, and general overall condition.
Many firearms owners have simply used their home as a meeting place to complete their private sales for many years with no issues. For those who are not comfortable with giving your home address as your meeting place when arranging with a buyer. You could suggest a more public meeting place. For example(s): Local shooting range, local gun shop parking lot, piece of Crown land.
If you are going to select a public meeting place. Please use common sense in selecting that meeting place. For example: In a busy suburban city. If you choose to meet in a mall parking lot to examine a firearm and complete a sale. There is a high probability that other members of the public will not be understanding of firearms and the culture that goes with it. Those other citizens may call the police creating an unnecessary inconvenience
2. For online deals.
This section is pertaining to deal where you are NOT doing a local face to face transaction, and having the item shipped to you.
- Read over the member profile information. Read their reviews from other site members, also see how long they have been a member for. (If they don't have any reviews, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are not trustworthy to deal with. They may be new or not do a lot of buy and sell. This is just one extra measure to help create an overall assessment of the seller.)
If they don't have many reviews, the number one way to avoid being defrauded is simply to have items shipped to you C.O.D.(cash on delivery) with Canada Post. We recommend that you don't send an E.M.T.(email money transfer) to a stranger(someone without a few reviews to show selling or trading history from other members on the site). Here is the link for info on C.O.D. https://www.canadapost.ca/web/
- Look over their ad carefully. Watch for specific things that should raise warning signs. Such as; Firearms not properly classified in the listing(ex. an AR-15 or handgun classified as Non-Restricted), No phone number listed or phone number with an area code that is not local to that area, or a phone number that is text only or goes to an automated system(Please note that we have blocked scammers that had ads in several different provinces, and each ad had the correct area code in the phone number. Lesson here is that the correct area code does not guarantee that this seller actually lives in the area that they claim to. There are apps out there that scammers use to create new phone numbers at will with the proper area code and forward the calls to their phone.). Ads that have unusually low pricing should also alert you to proceed with caution. If the 'view map' location indicated by the postal code that they list does not line up with their supposed location. Images that appear to be swiped from an online source instead of uploaded photos. You can actually do an image search on Google to see if the image was swiped from other websites(Sometimes images that have been swiped still do not show up when searched with Google Images).
- If the seller refuses to speak on the phone. Or if they refuse to meet in person to let you inspect the item before you buy. Even if you don't live around the person you are looking to buy from, you can offer to have a family member or friend, who lives in that area to come check it out before you buy. If they refuse that offer, they are 95% likely to be an overseas scammer pretending to be here in Canada.
- You should ask the seller to Skype, or some form of live video chat, in which they can show you that they do have the item that they are trying to sell. If Skype, FaceTime, or some form of live video chat is not an option for whatever reason. Have them send you a quick 5-10 second video of the item that you're looking to purchase, and with that item they need to have a piece of paper with yours and their email address written on that paper, with the item up for sale. If they can put all of those things in the same short video, that will verify that they shot that short clip specific to your request, and that the clip was not swiped from someone else who does actually have the item that you are looking to buy. This just verifies that they do actually have what they are trying to sell you. NOTE: NEVER accept photos with notes as described with the item as verification. Scammers have been using Photoshop to crop in notes into the photos with the items. That's why we recommend video clips rather than photos. I have never seen a scammer pass this short video verification test before.
Also note that we have caught scammers using categories other than firearms. We have seen scams for optics and knives as well.
3. To protect your own PAL info
To protect your own PAL. It is best practice to only give the seller the information on your PAL, rather than a photo of your PAL card. The seller can call the CFP to verify your PAL without seeing an actual photo of your PAL. The information that is needed from the PAL is; Name as appears on the card, PAL number, and expiry date.
In fact, for restricted firearm sales, the seller does not even need to check your PAL himself at all, the CFP will do that anyway. The seller will just call the CFP and ask to initiate a transfer, then the CFP gives him a reference #. The seller then gives that reference # to the buyer to call in to the CFP with, then the CFP verifies the seller's RPAL on their end.
So for restricted transfer, you can tell the seller that the CFP will verify your RPAL info if he asks.
4. Report a member
If you find a member who you suspect to be a scammer. PLEASE... Contact us to report it so that we can remove that member from the site. When you do this, hit the 'Report Ad' button on the ad, or please include the following in your email;
- Copy and paste the link for that ad into the email. (If you hit the 'Report Ad' button on that ad, the link will automatically be included in the text for you.)
- Please give us a description of why you think that member is a scammer
- If you have had dialog with that member through email, please forward us those emails or screenshots, so that we can see for ourselves what the seller has said that would give evidence that they are a scammer. (That way we can eliminate hearsay if we see what the seller said for ourselves. Thus we can avoid the risk of blocking an account unnecessarily.)
5. Sellers getting spam replies (asking to send you a cheque)
This is the very reason that we have changed the site so that only those who are signed into their account can send messages to sellers. This way we can now block a spammer's account and stop them from sending more emails.
We have one person that tends to show up every few months or so with a new email since we block his account each time he starts spamming every ad on the site. He's easy to spot, his emails are virtually the same every time.
If you get an email from an individual asking for you mailing address so that he can send a cheque to you, please report it to us immediately so that we can block his account from the site. You can report it to us by forwarding us the email that you receive to email@example.com. Forwarding us the email that comes from the site in response to your ad is the easiest way to report it since the email from the site will have his profile in it as a clickable link so that we can easily find his profile and block him.
What he is trying to do is send a fake cheque to the seller as payment for the item that is for sale. He will always send the cheque for far too much money than the agreed upon price. The he will claim it to have been a mistake on his part, and ask for the difference back. These counterfeit cheques are always very well done, and bank tellers will often not be able to tell the difference until the bank catches it a week or so after they have cleared your cheque, and then the bank will take the funds back from you.
Clearly, it's very rare that anyone would try to pay by mailing a cheque anymore. If you do get a cheque for too much money, you can be absolutely sure that it is a scam. Do not send the individual your firearm or the difference.
I think it's unlikely that anyone would fall for this. But it is annoying to the seller's on this site to have their time wasted by this person emailing them about their ads for sale. So please do report this to us immediately if you receive an email from a new account of his.