Consumer Information

ATF Warns: Watch for NFA Scams

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is advising the public to be aware of fraudulent National Firearms Act (NFA) tax registration forms being used to sell NFA firearms. According to ATF, some individuals are presenting altered NFA Form 4’s to prospective buyers to obtain a deposit, but never deliver the firearms.

A typical scam starts with a perpetrator (seller) claiming ownership of an NFA firearm through an altered Form 4, and then contacting an FFL to see if that FFL is interested in purchasing the NFA firearm. If the FFL expresses interest, the seller then requests that the FFL pay a percentage of the money upfront via cashier’s check and the remainder of the money after the ATF Form 4 paperwork is finalized.

All communication is done via email. If the fraudulent documents are printed, they appear to be rough scans of an original approved ATF Form 4. However, if the documents are viewed on a computer screen and are magnified, it often becomes evident that various sections have been altered.

The arrows indicate spots gun buyers should scrutinize carefully: The tax stamp should be legible in box 1 (Type of Transfer); in box 3a, the name of a previous FFL is often misspelled; and box 7 will contain the Transferor’s FFL, which can be verified through the FFL eZ Check system.
The arrows indicate spots gun buyers should scrutinize carefully: The tax stamp should be legible in box 1 (Type of Transfer); in box 3a, the name of a previous FFL is often misspelled; and box 7 will contain the Transferor’s FFL, which can be verified through the FFL eZ Check system.

To avoid this scam, FFL’s and individuals should be aware of the following: • The seller usually communicates via email.

• In box 1 (Type of Transfer), the tax stamp should be legible with a precise area for the serial number of the weapon to be hand written. The tax stamp has proven to be the most effective way to detect a fraudulent form. The perpetrators often paste a serial number over the serial number on the stamp. Upon closer inspection, it is often possible to detect the outline of the fraudulent serial number.

• In box 3a (Transferor), if the firearm was previously transferred from an FFL, the name of the FFL is often misspelled. A simple internet query for that FFL may assist those who suspect a scam.

• If applicable, box 7 (Transferor’s FFL) will contain the Federal Firearms Licensee number, which should be verified through the FFL eZ Check system.

FFL eZ Check is a free service, available on the ATF website. If you have general questions regarding the FFL eZ Check system, contact the Federal Firearms Licensing Center at 1-866-662-2750.

If you believe you have been contacted by an individual utilizing fraudulent NFA forms, or have otherwise come in contact with a fraudulent or manipulated form, please contact your local ATF field office as soon as possible for assistance.

Click here for a list of local field offices.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (29)

  1. I have two suppressors acquired legally in SC. 4 months on first, 3 months on second. These fools are targeting people or dealers with ffl’s. If you don’t have a ffl you prob wont be messed with.

  2. This is alarming because it shows the scammers and scoundrels are just not afraid of the government coming after them. Geez, if you are bold enough to pretend you are the government, and collect money fraudulently, we must have a pretty lame bunch of jerks out there protecting us. Not Obama though. He’s great!

    1. You are assuming the government is not the people scamming ffl’s. Just remember the crap they pulled a few years ago with caucasians also having to check the box for not hispanic or latino

  3. These predators attack every segment of society. Its no surprise to me that after fleecing retirees and ill folks, they turn their attention to upstanding citizens that may have a skeptical view of government. This is one of the few times I appreciate the actions of ATF in giving us the “heads up”. It seems there are at least some good folks in govt. that understand that governments role is keeping us informed instead of keeping us in the dark.

  4. we really don’t need these forms…OUR Constitution gives us the RIGHT to own these firearms WITHOUT infringement…we DO NOT need to pay ANYONE nor do we need ANYONES permission to own them…they can take their “tax stamp” infringement and shove it…

  5. Interesting! I’ve never dealt with this class, just the common everyday over-the-counter type weapon purchase.Maybe one day a supressor might enter in my plans. Anyway, is it possible this ruse is perpetrated by anti-gunners to gum up the works?

    1. No, they are just trying to “Rip-Off” people. Always deal Face-to-Face with your local Class 3 NFA Dealer (“Gun Store”) in their shop. Never use “Cash”, use a “Traceable” instrument (Check/Money Order. I’m a Former NFA Dealer.

    2. I have bought several class III “items” from out of state without ever meeting the 07 face to face. Never had a bad experience. A quick interweb search should tell one if they are being scammed.

    3. LLinLA
      I would doubt this scam has anything to do with anti-gunners. I am in the IT field myself. There are many hundreds of thousands of people out there trying to make money by cheating other people
      Although I put nothing past individuals on either side of this issue, it is almost a certainty that the scams are intended by someone to make some form of profit or gain some financial advantage.
      The more difficult we make it for individuals to run scams, the more complex and sophisticated the scams become
      30 years ago it was very simple to create a fake identity so we never had identity theft. Now we have made it very difficult to create a fake identity so people steal identities.
      Pre-1970 automobiles were extremely easy to steal so we had few carjackings.
      Please keep in mind that crooks and scammers are always trying to stay one step ahead of the defense.
      Any time you are trying to purchase something that is highly desirable and scares you will find someone trying to scam you at some point.
      If the item is scarce and desirable the buyer will often not perform due diligence and the scammers know this.
      A moderate amount of paranoia is healthy if not taken to extremes.

  6. After I relocated to Florida several years ago I made a decision to acquire NFA weapons including a submachine gun with a detachable suppressor and a .22 Ruger MK II with an internal suppressor. I acquired these guns via a Class III dealer and owned them for several years. Due to personal circumstances I decided to sell them. I thought that another Class III dealer would be necessary to conduct the transfer but found out that it could be done individual to individual by routing the paperwork to the ATF – NFA division, getting the transfer approved and having the buyer get his part of the Form 4 approved along with payment of the costs of the tax stamps. I prepared a receipt for the money paid, took a deposit conditioned upon ATF approval of the transfer. The buyer needed to form a corporation since the local sheriff would sign off on the machine gun but not the silencers. It went more smoothly than expected and less than 90 days as I recall. When the transfer was approved, the buyer came to my house with a check for the balance and the weapons were transferred, all without a Class III dealer. It went fairly smooth without a hitch.

    I still miss those NFA weapons because they were extremely accurate, extremely quiet but the buyer got more than he paid for since they were quality items.

  7. Of course, this would be a non-issue if the 2A was truly in effect.

    If one could afford it, one should be able to purchase a fleet of the newest fighter jets and bombers…or at least a bran’ new Ma Duce.

    I’d settle for a Wart Hog. But then, one needs the money first. I don’t think I could scratch together the funds for just a burst from the cannon…

    1. Remember, this is America, If you have the $$, you can have what ever your desires are. “Money Talks, BS Walks”

  8. 2 things, why would any honest, straight up, law abiding FFL risk their own license and the loss of what could amount to a considerable amount of money on a sight unseen NFA firearm or other NFA device? And why would anyone in any kind of business purchase anything based solely on a fuzzy, illegible document without trying to verify that the document is real. Form 4 is full of verifiable information, phone numbers, license numbers, addresses, names, serial numbers and all at least in duplicate if not triplicate, I mean, damn, it is a government form after all, and yes kudos to ATF late or otherwise for making an effort to do the right thing.

  9. The last one I got, I marked a Spam. And now it overloading my Spam Drawer, any suggestions, Anyone?

    1. @ Slowpoke Rodrigues.

      Yeah, mark them as a “419”, and pass them on to Scam.org. Enter “Forward” than , than press enter. And let them take care of it for you…

  10. Would this kind of thing happen on Gun Broker? I’ve never purchased there yet, but searches for cool guns have lead me there in the past. Where would I have to watch out for this stuff?

    1. I’ve purchased several guns on Gun Broker and never had a problem yet. They have a good system in place to protect buyers, and my rule is never buy from anyone without a good track record.

    2. Thanks for the advice Mikial. I’ve purchased more guns from CTD than anywhere else, and I’m glad they have a forum here that lets us talk about other websites sometimes.

    3. I agree, this is probably the best gun blog I’ve run across and the one I follow the most. I’ve bought several from CTD, and some from J&G Sales, CDNN, and Impact Guns as well as Gun broker.

      But to be honest, they’ve all been great to deal with and I would buy from any of them again.

  11. It’s a miracle folks… for once the ATF performed a tax-paid function that is isn’t about tearing down the Second Amendment or harassing law abiding gun owners

    1. g-man, you’re right. i’ll give them a thumbs up on this one. but we’re not naieve enough to let our guard down. i’ll even e-mail them.

    2. ROFLMAO! Proof that the mean old bad gubmint isn’t gonna grab your guns and ammo, yet it is still much easier to keep on fretting it will any day now. You guys are worse than the libruls and the French say you are. Happy Fourth of Tyrannical July, fellers!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.