BBB Scam Alert: Bogus gun websites claiming Kansas, Nebraska addresses rack up thousands of inquiries

In the last year, six alleged gun distributors advertising physical locations in Kansas or...
In the last year, six alleged gun distributors advertising physical locations in Kansas or Nebraska accumulated numerous unanswered complaints and thousands of inquiries to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)(WTOC)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 7:03 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (Press Release) - In the last year, six alleged gun distributors advertising physical locations in Kansas or Nebraska accumulated numerous unanswered complaints and thousands of inquiries to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Nearly $10,000 in losses was reported by victims.

“Unfortunately, we have monitored an uptick in gun purchasing scams in our region,” said BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty. “Sites that look legitimate but fail to provide physical addresses—or companies that outright lie and advertise an extraneous [or unrelated] physical address—have infiltrated our service area.”

Consumers who paid for items with peer-to-peer payment methods like Zelle or with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin reported to the BBB that they never received the purchased product.

“On their homepage, they have all the big ways to pay for their products: Visa, PayPal, Mastercard, etc. Well, they don’t take any of them,” said one Utah resident who filed a report with BBB Scam Tracker. “They want you to pay with Cash App or Bitcoin. They have a chat window for help. As a new customer they are very helpful—until they get your money.”

A Texas resident who paid for a product using Zelle said they never received the order. After calling and emailing the company, the person said they never heard back.

The most notable of these gun distributors is Firearms World, which accounted for more than 4,000 inquiries in the past 11 months. Firearms World claims to be physically located in Topeka. However, the address listed on the company website is a residential property owned by someone who isn’t affiliated with Firearms World, BBB confirmed.

BBB processed Firearms World complaints from consumers in 14 states, with many of the affected consumers using Zelle for payment. Firearms World has an “F” rating with the BBB and has 22 unanswered complaints, the majority of which stem from delivery issues. The company claims to have a Federal Firearms License—a unique identifying number assigned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—but that license doesn’t belong to Firearms World, BBB confirmed.

The site’s lifetime warranty includes a separate business, Discount Enterprises LLC, which isn’t affiliated with the company, BBB confirmed. Complaints sent by BBB to Firearms World have gone unanswered. The website domain, firearms-world.com, was initially only registered for one year, but it was renewed for another year. Victims of Firearms World sales reported a total loss of $7,600.44 to BBB.

Alphex Firearms is another firearm distributor with complaints from nine states and more than 4,500 inquiries since October 2021. Like Firearms World, Alphex Firearms has an active website that displays a physical residential address and FFL license number that don’t belong to the company. Victims of Alphex Firearms sales reported a total loss of $2,018.68 to BBB.

The Gun Shop, a company claiming a physical address in Morrill, Nebraska, was brought to the BBB’s attention through Scam Tracker after a consumer said a purchase wasn’t delivered. A complaint sent to the company by the BBB went unanswered. BBB confirmed The Gun Shop previously operated in Morrill, Nebraska, but found that the business closed more than 10 years ago.

The actual physical addresses of Firearms World, Alphex Firearms and The Gun Shops are unknown.

Other alleged gun distributors in the BBB service area with unanswered complaints include:

  • Handloading Supply in Ellsworth, Kansas
  • Reloading Supplies in Baldwin City, Kansas
  • Fort Scott Munitions in Fort Scott, Kansas
  • Guns Shop Inc. in Wichita, Kansas
  • Mega Fire Arms USA in Garden City, Kansas
  • The Gun Shop in Morrill, Nebraska

Your BBB offers the following advice for safe online shopping practices:

Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but it’s important to be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. If the site is missing contact information, that is a red flag. Check out retailers at BBB.org before you shop.

Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.

Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy; although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Some items cannot be returned; know before you buy.

Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If a site doesn’t have a privacy policy, that’s a big red flag that it may be a scam.

Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.

Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.

Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company with links to “tracking information” on an order you don’t remember making. Don’t click!

Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve or to get your money back if there is a problem. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.

Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records. According to the FTC, when you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, they have to give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.

Keep a clean machine. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software for network security. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet and smartphone.

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