There are many scammers out there, and one of the things they like to do is to create fake websites that are meant to trick people into giving them personal information, commit identity theft or wire fraud or they’re designed to facilitate a P2P payment like Venmo or PayPal or they’re designed to siphon money via a wire transfer.
One such site is Empire Gun Shop and is set up specifically to scam users via a wire transfer. I stumbled upon the site via a Google search looking for a specific part for an old firearm that was provided to me.
Google index’s the site, which is scary, and people are being scammed every day. The site has been in operation since March 2020. They also have a Yelp and a Yellow Pages listing which furthers their “legitimate” presence. What also makes this site so effective, beyond the quality web development, is the fact that the URL has HTTPS meaning the “S” designates it is a “secure site” but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Fake website made for wire fraud
The site has a “Live chat” feature that allows visitors to immediately connect with a live operator. And if you do, and feel free to try it, they will respond directly to you. And what is likely to occur is they will set up a wire transfer either via email or via chat. All communications with the scammers are done via a Google voice phone number.
I’ve talked to them, engaged in email communications and text. Based on their thick heavy accents and they’re utter brazen attitudes, it’s likely they are from West Africa or Nigeria etc.
Their “Contact us” page provides both a phone number and an email address. And as soon as you contact them they will respond. They will convince you that they have your product in stock, and they will work with you to set up a wire transfer or a peer to peer payment. And once you do, that’s it it’s over Johnny, you lose that money.
When I engaged them to purchase a part, I became immediately suspicious when they were unable to answer a single question that I had asked. Firearms are a certain specialty, and there is a specific language that one needs to speak in order to understand the world of guns.
These scammers have no idea what they’re talking about. And if you’re a new gun enthusiast and don’t understand the language of firearms you are likely to get scammed. And that is their edge. Newbies are their mark.
So for laughs, I engaged them via text. I asked if I could buy a “Bazooka” which if you didn’t already know, a Bazooka is a common name for a man-portable recoilless anti-tank rocket launcher weapon, widely deployed by the United States Army. It’s a grenade launcher.
And I told them that my intent was “I am declaring jihad against the infidels.” Which for any normal company would set off red flags. But not these guys. They’re all about the jihad! And they asked for the FFL which is the Federal Firearms License. And I provided “Youra Sheethed” Get it? You’re a Shithead. He He.
And I gave them the physical address of the ATF and Boston. And they responded with their PayPal identification number. Feel free to send them some money. Or report them to Paypal. Whatever you wanna do.
Once I started to see this was a scam, I quickly researched the name of the company and found numerous online forums that enforced my belief that it was fraud. Here are those links below:
How to spot a fake website
Here are some of the ways that you can determine if a site is real or fake:
You Aren’t Sure How You Got to the Site
Have you found yourself on a site and you don’t know how you got there? Did you click on an email link? This is one of the most effective methods that a scammer uses to get a victim to go to a fake website.
This is also the case with links on social media sites. Whatever you do, do not click these links. Instead, if you know you want to go to a site, either use a bookmark or type it directly into your browser.
Do You See Spelling or Grammar issues?
Another sign that a site might be fake is a lot of grammar and/or spelling issues. Many of these fake websites are created by non-native English speakers, and they often make mistakes with spelling and grammar. Some also use translation software, which is notorious for making mistakes like using “there” instead of “their.”
Is the Site Endorsed?
If you see that a site is endorsed, you might believe that it’s totally safe, but just because you see an icon that looks like an endorsement, it doesn’t mean it’s real. A person creating a fake website can add information saying, for instance, that it is endorsed by a news outlet, but that doesn’t mean it actually was.
The same can be said for authenticating badges. You should be able to click on these badges and be directed to a site explaining what it means. If you can’t click it, it’s probably a fake.
Look at the Address
Another sign that a site is a scam is if the website address is incorrect. For example, let’s say you want to do some online shopping, and you get an email coupon from Kohl’s. You click on the link, but instead of going to Kohls.com, it takes you to K0hls.com.
This is a fake website. You also want to pay attention to the beginning of the address, too. You should only be doing shopping or entering information at a site beginning with HTTPS, not HTTP.
How to Make a Purchase
Almost every website out there takes credit cards. This is a good thing, because a credit card gives you protection. If a site doesn’t take cards, and it only wants a check or wire transfer, you should be suspicious. Empire Gun Shop doesn’t take credit cards.
Are the Prices Too Good to Be True?
Are the prices on a site too good to be true? If the prices are much lower than other prices, this could be a sign of a scam. For example, if you want to buy a new designer purse, and every other site has them for $400, but this one has it for $100, this is a red flag.
Finally, you can determine if a site is real or not by looking at reviews. You can do this by searching on Google, or you can look at the Better Business Bureau listing. There is also a scam tracker on the BBB website, too. And as I did above, seek out the name of the company and its domain on various forums that specialize in that product or service.
Keep in mind, however, that some of these reviews might still be fake, so spend a little time on this and don’t always give these landing pages or splash pages too much credibility.
And hey, feel free to mess with those scumbags at Empire Gun Shop and make their life hell.
Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.