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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Special Advisory

For Immediate Release

Monday, March 21, 2016
Contact: Joint Support & Operations Center (JSOC)

Telephone Fraud Scheme Used to Request Money to Transfer Firearms

Notice To All Federal Firearms Licensees and Firearm Purchasers

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is providing the following information to make you aware of an alleged active fraud scheme in which Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) are being contacted, via telephone, by an individual claiming to be a police officer. These individuals are requesting a transfer of funds from the FFLs to facilitate the return of their previously reported stolen firearms that have been allegedly recovered by the police department. It is believed the schemes are designed to elicit funds from unsuspecting FFLs.

The typical scheme starts with a perpetrator ("police officer") contacting an FFL for assistance in returning stolen firearms. The “police officer” states the police department (PD) 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 ten days) if the transfer is not completed. In similar incidents, the “police officer” requests 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. 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.

ATF is aware of only a few instances of this scheme, but to help you avoid being victimized, licensees are encouraged to be prepared and vigilant should you receive a call. If possible record the phone number of the caller immediately. 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.

If you are an FFL, or an individual, and believe you have been targeted by a perpetrator who is trying to gain your assistance in returning stolen firearms, please contact your local ATF field office as soon as possible for assistance. A list of local field offices can be found at For immediate assistance, please contact ATF’s Joint Support & Operations Center (JSOC) at 800-800-3855 or 202-648-7200.