Web-Based Scams Target Firearm Industry Retailers, Buyers

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posted on March 25, 2021
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A prominent warning on your first visit to the SIG Sauer website home page reminds firearm enthusiasts that the increased demand for guns, ammunition and accessories has attracted unwelcome attention from some with less-than-honorable intentions. It reads: “SIG Sauer has been made aware of several fraudulent websites that claim to be selling SIG Sauer products.”

“The following websites are NOT authorized retailers or distributors of SIG Sauer firearms and in some instances may be a scam—www.sigsauerstore247.com, www.sigsauerpistols.org, www.ssgundeals.com, www.sigsauerarms.com, www.SigSauerBroker.com.”

The notice doesn’t appear during second or subsequent visits to the website, likely a clutter-reducing byproduct of browser cookies. American Rifleman contacted SIG Sauer and confirmed the warning is legitimate. Other firearm firms are also suffering with the increase in unauthorized activity, a byproduct of the increased financial clout of the industry and widespread demand for its products. 

A “Firearm and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report 2021,” released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation last week, provides perspective to the growth in gun manufacturing and sales. It states that from 2008 to 2019 the industry’s economic impact grew by 232 percent. Even in 2020, when most sectors experienced significant downturns, the gun industry grew by $3.5 billion and added 10,000 jobs. The findings are in stark contrast to the unemployment increase during the pandemic.

Online scams and websites hosting malware are nothing new, but news reports and official warnings increased significantly last year as consumers turned to keyboards for shopping. In October News4SA, a Texas-based NBC affiliated, covered the case of a gun buyer who was scammed, issuing a warning that, “Cybercriminals are targeting items that are trending right now, anything related to personal protective equipment (PPE), even weapons and ammunition.”

In November, Arkansas CBS-affiliate THV11 told viewers that, “Suspicious ads on websites are also a problem, redirecting people to sites that look real. But, in reality, you may be buying something that will never show up.”

Jessica Franklin, spokesperson for the Little Rock, AR, FBI office told the reporter, “If you see an online ad, make sure you’re being redirected to a verified website.” She estimated that in 2019—before the pandemic’s exponential increase in online shopping—web-based scammers fraudulently collected $22 million from Arkansas residents alone.

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