My friend Tom has been looking for his first pistol, an inexpensive basic 1911 that would fit in with his M1 Garand. He wanted it as GI as possible and not with a bunch of high speed bells and whistles. I have been on the look out for him for a while and sent him a link to a guy selling IAC 1911s (Turk builds) for $400 on Gunlistings. That is about what they are worth so it sounded like a good deal. Tom asked me what to do and I told him to contact the seller and see if he could arrange a sale and to "do the transaction whatever way he felt safest". Unfortunately Tom sent him a money order...not good.
Its been several weeks and he has neither pistol or his money in hand. Matter of fact the guy sent him another email shortly after receiving the money order asking for another $200 because the FFL shipping it was asking for more money to insure the shipping and such. WTF? The guy additionally told Tom that since it cost him $40 to cash the money order he needed more money to make it worth his while. DOUBLE WTF?!? Seems our seller cashes stuff at check cashing stores, hence the 10% or so charge to do it. Also, I am betting he never had actually had the pistol in hand and was going to buy it from somewhere else that would have charged tax and shipping too, as well as a FFL transfer once it got to him before he sent it to Tom....again, hence the extra fees. Tom has asked for his money back several times but keeps getting stonewalled and delayed.
I feel bad, down right partially responsible matter of fact. The guy lives in Akron while Tom lives in Toledo, about a 2 hour drive for those not from Ohio. I, personally, would have driven to pick it up or arranged a neutral meeting point in public, but again this was Tom's first time out buying one and I guess he just didn't realize that send money was a bad idea. I have informed him to report the guy to teh Postal Inspector, but I doube he will get his money back at this point. Sucks.
Just a few tips once again for doing these types of transactions via sites like Gunlistings and Armslist:
- Always deal in person unless going through a third party brokerage type service that will secure your money until the goods have actually been delivered.
- Always deal in cash when conducting transactions as a seller...the check doesn't always clear.
- Know what you're buying at least enough not to get burned on inflated prices for a "collector" item or such..
- Always pick a public place in a safe area to conduct business, if possible. I have gone to peoples houses before, some in some not-so-stellar areas, but I have always been careful, maintained awareness, been armed and always had a getaway plan and route. Public areas are generally safe during daylight hours.
- ALWAYS make sure you are conducting the transaction legally in accordance with the laws of your state and federal statutes. That means no conducting business across state lines without a FFL, not selling to persons that you know are unable to legally own them and such. I, personally, generally insist to do business with other CCW holders and upon presentation of such credentials.
- Most importantly, if it feels wrong...DON'T DO IT! Its not worth jail time or physical injury or death for the sake of buying or selling something. If the spidey sense is tingling get out of Dodge.
With the ongoing talk of mandatory background checks for all transactions this type of online trading may come to an end in this manner, but in the meantime you can still legally sell your private property as such....just be safe doing it.
Last week I drove to the Cleveland area to do a trade for my GP-100. I chose a very public area with a lot of traffic in the middle of the day to do the swap. Before I even opened my case to let him examine my Glock I asked for both his Ohio drivers license and CCW cards and verified it was him. I kept the conversation on track and brief, always maintained my situational awareness and left as soon as our transaction was done after thanking him.
Generally, those doing transactions on these sites are gunnies just like I am and I generally don't have any issues. But then again, I follow my rules and don't allow myself to get burned.
Tom is learning a hard lesson from this, one I hope none of you repeat. Be safe and smart folks.