Scammers, posing as police, are calling unsuspecting federal firearms licensed dealers and requesting a transfer of funds so they can return stolen guns that had been recovered by authorities, according to the advisory posted this week by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A typical scheme starts with a perpetrator, posing as a policeman, contacting an FFL for assistance in returning stolen firearms. He tells the FFL that the police department is trying to return firearms that were part of a criminal investigation, stolen from the FFL and were no longer needed.
The “police officer” then requests the FFL facilitate a transfer via a local FFL that is under their police department contract or for the FFL to pick up the firearms in person. The “police officer” informs the FFL that the firearms will be destroyed (typically within 10 days) if the transfer is not completed.
In similar incidents, the “police officer” requested money to have firearms shipped back to the FFL. “It appears the ‘police officer’ in these schemes is attempting to elicit money from unsuspecting FFLs who wish to have their stolen firearms returned,” the ATF said, and warns FFLs and individuals should be aware of the following:
- The caller communicates via telephone.
- The caller portrays himself as a police officer.
- The caller expresses the need for the FFL to facilitate the return of their previously reported firearms.
- The caller states the “police department” is trying to return stolen firearms.
- The caller, in some cases, asks for money to pay for shipment of firearms.
The ATF said it is only aware of a few instances of the scheme, but are asking anyone who thinks they’re being targeted to contact their local ATF field office.
“If possible record the phone number of the caller immediately,” the agency said. “ATF requests you be inquisitive and acquire as much information as possible such as the “police officer’s” name (including spelling), desk phone number, email address and street address.”
A list of local field offices can be found at the ATF’s website. For immediate assistance, please contact ATF’s Joint Support & Operations Center at (800) 800-3855 or (202) 648-7200.