PSA: GunBroker Threaten To Terminate Accounts Using VPN, Proxies and Tor

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GunBroker.com is now detecting if users are connecting to them through Virtual Private Networks (VPN), proxy servers or Tor. Users who are detected using these services are being given one warning to stop using these to access the site or have their account terminated.

These services hide the physical location of their users. If an internet user in London, UK uses a VPN or proxy server hosted in Dallas, TX, if will appear that their internet connection originated in Texas, not England. Tor, is a more sophisticated version of this, bounces connections around the world to anonymize them, making locating the user near impossible (for anyone but the NSA).

There are many legitimate reason to use these systems, especially if you browse gun related websites. If your school, college or place of work block gun websites, a VPN or Tor can get around this restriction. Many hotels and motels also block access to gun websites. I know many US troops around the world use Tor to read TFB.

On the other hand, these services can be used by fraudsters and hackers to prevent, or make it difficult and time consuming, for law enforcement to track them down.

A reader who until now accessed GunBroker through a VPN, with a legitimate reason, was detected by GunBroker. They emailed him saying …

Due to the enormous amount of fraud originating from them, GunBroker.com does not permit access to our system from anonymous proxy servers or any service that disguises your location. If such access is detected again your account may be closed without additional warning.

He explained why he needed to use a VPN and asked if they could make an exception for him. Gunbroker.com replied they would not make exceptions from this policy for anyone.

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • JeffAStevens

    Good. I suspect way more purchases from the people we all don’t want to have guns than from paranoid people worried the government will take their guns.

    • Zachary marrs

      What? I use tor all the time, especially since I use any free wifi I come across. But honestly if you are buying guns off gunbroaker, you’re basically asking for trouble

      • iksnilol

        I find it silly to not use Tor or other proxies. I ain’t paranoid but I don’t like people collecting info on me or being capable of finding me IRL.

        Privacy and all.

        • 101nomad

          It ain’t cause I have too, it is because I want too. Sort of like, my house being broke into, the would be thieves see what I got, and bring me better stuff next trip. They did not need to know to start with.

        • n0truscotsman

          I wish i would have known about it longer than 5 months ago.

      • Troy

        What are you taking about? almost every gun I have bought has been from gunbroker. Never a problem just buy from dealers. Want to pay several hundred dollars more and pay tax for it ok have fun.

        • Zachary marrs

          if you end up seeing the gun in person before you pay; ok, but if you buy sight unseen, you are tempting fate

      • Josh Greer

        I’m the luckiest man in the world. I have done several transactions on gunbroker.com and all have gone smoothly

        • Zachary marrs

          No, you are the exception to the rule. Its like the stereotypical bad lgs, but much, much worse. For any instance of a good transaction, I can dig up hundreds of bad ones

          • Mase

            I am with Josh. 50+ transactions as buyer and seller and never an issue with a bad firearm.

        • engjin

          Me too but I only buy from legit businesses. I do a little research off the gun broker site before I consider bidding and I never buy firearms from individual sellers

    • Fromthesidelines3

      “I suspect” is shorthand for “I don’t care about facts”.

    • Komrad

      The 4th is just as important as the 2nd.

  • iksnilol

    Glad I don’t use Gunbroker. Won’t say what I think about them (it is not nice).

    I find it ironic/funny people are against gun registration for obvious reasons (anonymity) and then go against those same reasons when people want to be anonymous online. Wait – it’s not funny, the word I am looking for is hypocritical.

  • Mike

    I foresee them losing a lot of business because of this policy.

    • Tactical Mall Ninja

      Naw…they didn’t loose much business when they were caught doing credit checks on everyone who registered without notifying.

  • Vitor

    Time to set up a rival to gunbroker who accepts bitcoin. Bureaucrats and state worshippers would freak out.

    • Victor

      Obama would shit a solid gold brick.

      • MattW

        So you are saying it may be a good way to raise funds to reduce our Nation’s debt?

      • anonymous

        shitcoin ?

      • supergun

        How about 18 Trillion.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Honestly, that would probably be the end of bitcoin. Be pleased they don’t. That said, I am out of the bitcoin game. To volatile. I made some money by buying a miner early on. To risky these days.

      • Dilbert

        Mr. Editor. I think you mean to say, “Too volatile.” And, “Too risky these days.”

        • iksnilol

          If you understood what he meant then there is no reason to complain about grammar.

          • Big D

            There is if one is supposedly an editor.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            No big deal when answering comments. If I went through everyone’s comments just on this thread I could point out a bunch of errors but in this instance it doesn’t make a bit of difference.

          • supergun

            Look at what is coming through our borders.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            Thank you! I’m getting more than a little tired of griping about grammar spelling etc when we’re just making comments.
            If you understand better to drop it if you don’t ask for clarification.

      • skusmc

        I really, honestly don’t understand the “It will crash” and “It’s too volatile” folks. Bitcoin wasn’t meant as an investment. It was meant as an alternative, anonymous currency. If you’re putting your life savings into it you’re doing it wrong. Is there a reason why anyone would have more than a few hundred dollars worth into it at a time?

      • mrt

        you have been able to buy guns with bitcoins for years. And not limited to questionable or illegal guns advertised on SilkRoad 1.0.

  • 101nomad

    I have bought magazines from Bersa, that is the extent of my buying firearm related items online. Did not feel the need to mask anything. If, or when, there is a real need to go incognito, we will have to go “stone age”. No transactions of any kind online. No buying from ‘gun shops’, nothing that will require IDs. (have hit political wall, stop).

    • Cymond

      Whose network were you using? As stated in the article, there are many people using unfriendly internet connections. It’s not just guns, I’ve seen websites blocked for selling pocketknives. Don’t assume it’s about “masking”, it may simply be the ONLY way available.

      Heck, everything my wife does at work is over a VPN. She’s a computer programmer, and every thing she writes is on a giant server in a back room. Her laptop is really just a way to connect to the computer that does the real heavy lifting. No, I’m not suggesting that my wife should be browsing GunBroker (or any website of personal interest) at work, merely pointing out that many people use such systems for legitimate purposes.

  • tobias

    Because we hate you and you suck! (And Holder strongly encouraged us)

  • Blake

    interesting…

    Note that they didn’t say anything about users connecting from itinerant hotspots (e.g. wifi in a coffee shop) that is for most intents & purposes equally untraceable.

    Thanks for bringing this to light TFB.

    • Chance

      Yeah, I agree. Even a lot of grocery stores and hole-in-the-wall restaurants are adding their own free WiFi now. My chiropractor even has it. Over the course of wandering around, I can easily be on five or six different hotspots in a day.

  • PK

    And with that single change, my use of their services comes to an end. A pity, as I tend to do many thousands of dollars of sales with them a month.

    Armlist has no such requirements, at least.

  • weldo

    My question for the techies, how can they tell if you’re on a VPN or not? Surely not by IP alone because my VPN has servers here in the states, for example.

    • Rob in Katy

      Many use a specific block of IP addresses and they can tell from that.

  • John Dalton

    I have got to add my Gunbroker story because I’ve never told anyone and I believe people should know.

    I sold an AR15 on Gunbroker to a gentlemen in Florida. He paid by credit card. A few weeks later after he received the rifle he disputed the charge. Since I had no signed copy the credit card company took the $1200 out of my account. After contacting this guy I realized he was senile and did not remember buying the gun from me. I called him and he went into his safe, checked the serial number, came back on the phone and apologized. He then took 3 weeks to get the money back into my account after much fighting with the credit card company. I will never again do this type of transaction on Gunbroker. Just my story.

    • supergun

      Pretty cool story. Maybe the police are making Gun Brokers give the warnings.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Gunbroker can be very risky at times. If a company doesn’t have a track record of several hundred transactions I’d never buy anything there or on any auction site. I wouldn’t be inclined to sell on them either.
      There’s probably more of that going on than we know.

  • Curtis

    The only time I ever had a problem with my C.C. was the day after I signed up for gunbroker. I liked the page better when I only looked at the guns on it.

  • Petty

    Oh no, I’ll have to route my tor traffic through a regular proxy! Oh the inhumanity of a single added step.

  • Robert Dean

    I’m having trouble trying to figure out what kind of fraudulent actions are occuring by the use of VPN’s. In order to purchase a firearm, doesn’t the firearm have to be shipped to your local FFL? And don’t you need to fill out your paperwork in person? Even if you were in the same state, doesn’t the check or credit card have to clear before shipment? What am I missing?

    • supergun

      Nothing. It is bull.

    • Steelframe

      It’s pretty obvious gunbroker is trying to cut down on fraudulent sellers (not buyers). Think about it, if you can’t understand the dangers of someone selling a high cost item anonymously then you probably haven’t bought anything thru an auction site, let alone a firearm

  • Mark N.

    I haven’t made a purchase from Gun Broker since the local FFLs jacked up their transfer fees for guns they did not sell to $75, pretty much eliminating any economic benefit. I understand their reasons, but it still sucks.

    • Big D

      Your local FFLs are rip offs.

      My guy doesn’t care where I buy, he gets his transfer fee($20).

    • totenglocke

      $75 transfer fees? The only place I’ve heard of with those kinds of rates is California.

      • gunslinger

        Place near pittsburgh wanted 90-100 for a transfer. Another place wouldnt do transfers at allbgor gins they dont sell

      • engjin

        A dealer by me charges $100 for transfers and if you buy the gun from them it costs nothing (this is in PA). Stores are just playing games trying to get people to buy from them rather than online

    • n0truscotsman

      75?
      holy shite…

  • zack991

    Another reason to not support them and if you continue to do shame on you.

    • gunslinger

      lost faith in GB long ago. seems to have gone the way of eBay

  • Bruce

    Several years back I was using TOR, Gunbroker sent me an email letting me know that it looked like my account had been hacked. I told them it was probably TOR messing up their location information. They said thanks and were happy for the info. The concept of TOR is to annoymise your internet interactions. It’s silly to use it on a site that requires you to log in to do anything. I was doing it wrong.

  • SafeArmsReview

    Much ado about nothing because all this talk about tracing is BS IMHO. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how or where you purchased the gun thru, you still have to ship it to an FFL.

    Had a couple bad experiences with gunbroker so I won’t use them again.

  • Joseph Smith

    This is proof positive that GB has a serious shill bidder problem. I’ve seen it (and I know it’s cost me money once) on multiple auctions. It isn’t hard to figure out what dishonest sellers are doing and how they’re doing it.

    Does anything think it’s okay for a bidder with no feedback, anonymous location, and an unconfirmed identity to bid $2,000+ in an auction? If you’re in that auction, is that okay? Didn’t think so.

    As for anonymity… You have to give up your information to the seller anyway (payment and FFL who books the transfer). So there really is no anonymity once the transaction is complete. If you don’t want GB as a proxy to know who you are, wander over to Bud’s or any other of dozen websites and do business with them directly.

    • gunslinger

      i can see the shill bids. but you can do that now. i’m john doe. 123 main street. anytown usa. email jdoe(at)[gmail/yahoo/anyfreeemaili].com.

      the only thing would be if JD here and bubba gunseller 1 ip were both the same. and that could be fixed with a simple power cycle of the modem. (or just use your cell phone for one account, pc for the other)

      all tor said is that my ip originated in france, or belgum or canada. hey i may be on vacation. i still log on as user123, verified from othertown usa..etc.

    • gunslinger

      how can you say it “cost you money” if you upped your bid? ok. there was a fake bid that raised the price by $$ bucks. but if you were willing to pay 700 for a gun, and you were at 600, then the bid came in and you paid 625, you sill got it for less than your top bid.

      or if it was at 700, and the shill bid came in at 725 and you went to 750…you could have not bid, or be willing to pay the extra 50 bucks. no one forced you to pay what you did. you said you’d pay a certain amount. and that’t what happened.

      the only argument i can see is that it was a dishonest bid by the other person to generate more money for the seller. Now that is unethical, and probably illegal (fraud?) and against GBs policies? that i can understand. not that it “cost you more money” what i think that really means is that i didn’t get it at the bargain i really wanted it at.

      • Big D

        It is wire fraud, plain and simple, and illegal.

        Of course it cost the bidder more money.

        • gunslinger

          but it was money the bidder was willing to spend. either by entering a large max bid or rebidding. so how can you say you lost money you were willing to spend? you can say you lost money you ‘thought’ you’d save if you won at the lower price. but that’s about it.

          i’ve seen auctions were people drive the bid up in a bidding war, not because they want the item, but because they want the other guy to spend more. is that illegal?

          • The Stig

            Yes actually, it is.

          • http://radishsaltant.blogspot.com/ Eric Vought

            “…but it was money the bidder was willing to spend.”

            If all of the stores around me get together and agree to raise the price of milk by $1.00 and I need milk so I still buy it (and it costs me near as much to drive to a bigger town to get a non-fixed price), is that money I “was willing to spend”? Generally, when there is active collusion, we call that price-fixing, and it is illegal.

            An auction is a mechanism, not just to make a sale, but to determine the natural market price of an item. Auctions have rules or they are not an ‘auction’. Actively defrauding a buyer by inflating the market price in your favor is… well ‘fraud’ and not permissible. If a seller is not happy with the auction prices they get, they have the alternative of selling for a fixed-listed price somewhere else.

          • gunslinger

            i bet you think price gouging is a real thing ;-)

            i can understand that pricefixing and shill bidding are illegal in that we defined laws against those actions.

            but to make a statement that you paid more money than you wanted to is a farce. did someone FORCE you bid on the auction? FORCE you to buy the milk. physically remove the extra money from your walled? no.

          • http://radishsaltant.blogspot.com/ Eric Vought

            “i bet you think price gouging is a real thing”

            Absolutely I think price gouging is a real thing. A free-market is based on the ability for two (or more) parties to *negotiate* agreeable terms. Price-fixing, price gouging, cornering, and shill-bidding are all mechanisms to undermine the power of a party to negotiate agreeable terms.

            If you do not believe in it, how do you feel about the example of the company store that is backed by the power of law to prevent any competitor within 50 miles and then charges the employees, who were required to live on grounds, exorbitant prices and limit their ability to go elsewhere? Price-fixing is the same thing with collusion happening at a different level; instead of passing local laws in a structure effectively owned by the company, the different ‘competitors’ agree among themselves to screw the customer.

            Shill-bidding is fraud because the sale is advertised as an ‘auction’ which is a well-defined term. Shill-bidding violates the terms of the sale that the seller agreed to and therefore invalidates the sale. False-advertising is fraud.

          • gunslinger

            i don’t think the company store is fair. but it’s also not a free market. as you said “A free-market is based on the ability for two (or more) parties to *negotiate* agreeable terms.” you can’t have multiple parties negotiate on agreeable terms when one party is legaly protected from doing such.

            and as i said, shill bidding isn’t cool, in terms of the rules of the auction. but don’t cry that you paid more money than you wanted to. you hit the bid button. you were willing to pay that. we aren’t talking about buyers remorse.

          • Big D

            You are arguing from the side of the crooks and their alternate IDs(shill bidders).

            It isn’t really convincing.

          • gunslinger

            all i am saying is that you can’t be out “more money” if you are willing to pay it in the first place. no one is forcing you to pay more money than you want. you placed a bit of the most you will pay. someone can bump you closer to that value. or they can go beyond that and you bid again, beating them. thus implying you value that item at a particular cost.

            so how can you be mad that you spent money on something you wanted?

    • totenglocke

      The issue isn’t not wanting Gunbroker to know where you are. The people using VPN’s and Tor are doing it to prevent their ISP / the government from seeing what sites they are visiting. Hence why Tor was originally designed for aiding citizens in places like China, so that they could post political things without the government tracking them and executing them.

  • William Baker

    I got a bad attitude from gunbroker the only time I’ve used it, they could go out of business for such a silly reason and I’d be happy.

  • smartacus

    tora tora tora … no wait

  • GunPitt

    We would be more than happy to accommodate VPN, proxy and Tor users at http://www.gunpitt.com

    Come on over guys.

    • totenglocke

      I glanced over the site and didn’t see any mention of selling / buying fees – is there any charge for listing? I’ve got a couple of guns I’m looking to sell and I’d like to give your site a try.

      • GunPitt

        We only charge fees if your item sells. Free to list, and if your auction is successful we charge 5% of the final price, excluding shipping.

        We would love to have you list some guns with us!

        • totenglocke

          And how does dwolla work exactly? The only way to do payments is directly transferring money from a savings / checking account into dwolla?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      No advertising guys—

      • GunPitt

        Sorry Phil, I removed the link.

  • totenglocke

    Well, fuck you too Gunbroker. Looks like it’s time for another site to step in and take over if Gunbroker doesn’t want to be user friendly.

  • n0truscotsman

    Gunbroker can pound sand. Never again. I threw them into the “avoid” box alongside Ebay a long time ago.

    But, honestly, if privacy is a concern, then you probably shouldn’t even use the internet for a firearms transaction to begin with, even with increased privacy measures.

  • tim

    Gunbroker requires you send them a picture of your driver’s license to register…. lol no thanks

  • mrt

    If GB’s commerce software/system can’t handle something as simple VPN or Proxies, it is time to upgrade.

  • cbunix23

    You all have heard of “Operation Choke Point” I’m sure. For all we know GB could be under political or economic pressure to minimize the amount of fraud happening on their site, and if they don’t do something to cut down on fraud they could be shut down entirely.

  • J S

    Very simple answer as to why they are doing this.
    The NSA leaned on them to track the sales of firearms.
    If the NSA can strongarm facebook and social media, do you really think
    they cant track firearms sales on arguably the largest gun trading site online?
    With a obligation not to tell anyone they have been ORDERED to by the court
    this is the likely scenario.

  • Seth Hill

    “if users are connecting to them through Virtual Private Networks (VPN), proxy servers or Tor”

    So they are going to terminate your account if you connect from work? Many companies utilize VPNs and proxy servers. As for Tor, what does it matter what browser they use (or if they use VPN/Proxy servers) if they are required to log in to bid/buy and need to use FFLs (thus a background check is done) when firearms are purchased? This is much ado about nothing, just making a mountain out of a mole hill. Looks like I won’t be using gunbroker. I plan on sending them this comment.

    • Seth Hill

      I just posted this to their Facebook page, as there appears to be no way to send them an email without registering:

      I understand that you are going to terminate accounts if they connect to you from VPNs, Proxy servers, or Tor browser. Many companies utilize VPNs and proxy servers. As for Tor, many people have to utilize it (as well as VPNs and Proxy servers to get around content restrictions at hotels, etc that block gun related sites. What does it matter what browser they use, or if they use VPN/Proxy servers, if they are required to log in to bid/buy and need to use FFLs (thus a background check is done) when firearms are purchased? Because of fraud?

      How about terminating accounts because of the fraud, instead of the use of technology? You are doing basically the same thing as what anti-gunners are doing, punishing law abiding citizens (users) because of a few people, shame on you.

      I refuse to use your services AND will spread the word to make sure that others I know (and those that they know, etc) do not either.

  • Y K

    SCREW the idiots at Gunbroker.

    I tried reporting fake and hugely misleading auctions [more than once] I found on their site and they didn’t even care.

    I cancelled my account with them permanently