Just as one man caused a furor worldwide with a Ponzi scheme that snared thousands within its financial spider web of deceit, so has the gun world been unwillingly duped by our own guns and bullets version of Bernie Madoff.
A 29-year-old schmoozer and charmer and bullshit artist from California has managed to create a fault line within the California gun owners, via Calguns.net, that makes the San Andreas fault look like a mere crack in the sidewalk.
Enter Ben Cannon, a slick, arrogant, con man who seemingly has more backgrounds than James Bond and the Chevy Chase character, "Fletch," all combined. To read Cannon's self-expressed resume, at the end of the day one can only wonder why this guy is not giving counsel to Warren Buffet, Donald Trump and Tim Geithner when it comes to business and financial matters.
Only one small problem: Cannon's latest business failure, Gunpal, now known as Gpal, has flopped harder than a beached largemouth bass on an Alabama shoreline.
Enter the Gpal scam.
Let me back up for a minute and explain Gpal to those unfamiliar. . .Think Paypal, that monetary transfer service people use when they do business with Ebay. Paypal has been accused at many levels of being anti-gun and for suspending customers' accounts due to violations of their Terms Of Service (TOS) when gun purchases were made and Paypal used to complete the exchange of funds between buyer and seller.
So along comes Ben Cannon and Gunpal promising to be a gun-friendly transfer system as opposed to Paypal. He gets off to a well publicized start, because if there is one thing Ben Cannon is well-versed and practiced at doing, other than masturbation with himself as the object of his desire, it is in publicizing himself and his latest ventures.
Ben has a worshipping faction at a place called Calguns.net and as predicted, they lined up, passed around the Kool Aid, drank heartily and blindly supported Gunpal. Many others of us did as well. What's not to like about a pro-gun, gun-friendly financial transfer service, after all?
This Ordinary American was hoping Gunpal would succeed and become a viable service for frustrated gun owners unable to complete monetary transfers with Paypal for online goods and services related to the gun world.
But unfortunately, this Ordinary American was not familiar with Ben Cannon. Had any of us here at An Ordinary American known about Ben Cannon and his lying, scheming, scamming, bullshit ways, no way would we have been quietly supporting him or Gunpal.
Sometime around February 2010, Gunpal changed their name to Gpal. That should have been the first "uh-oh" sign for the gun world: A pro-gun service taking the word "gun" out of their name.
Some feeble excuses were offered and the Cannon Crusaders mixed more Kool Aid and slugged it down and staunchly defended their man.
But even as early as February 2010, not all was well. The first signs of trouble were already out and in the open. Several gun forum owners and administrators began posting warnings to their membership about Gunpal, now Gpal.
A fellow by the name of "GpalVP" immediately showed up wherever there was doubt of discourse about Gpal. He laughed off the problems and promised that they were simply "growing pains and that Gpal wants your business." The Kool Aid drinkers kept slugging it down.
Then in May, things got worse. It seems a lot of gun/industry sellers had been quite successful at promoting Gpal (formerly Gunpal) as their payment processor. But it also seems that Gpal wasn't quite as successful at paying out the money it was taking in.
Uh-oh number two.
More forum and site administrators started issuing warnings. GpalVP shows up and explains that one of their banks "screwed them" and that they are looking for a new bank.
That was when this writer's BSD (Bull Shit Detector) first began vibrating and registering around a 6.3. Banks enter negotiated or standard contract relationships with customers. They don't just arbitrarily "screw you," not if they don't want a slew of FDIC and other fed investigators sticking an investigative microscope up their asses.
In June and July of 2010, the grumblings of non-payment by Gpal became more frequent, more widespread and more heated. In response, GpalVP's comments became more defensive, more derogatory and the first threats of "legal actions" against anyone saying or claiming derogatory things about Gpal and/or Ben Cannon began to surface.
Uh-oh number three.
Ben Cannon ignored the fact that by his shameless and endless self-aggrandizing and self-promotion, endless press releases and photographs on the internet that he had effectively made himself a public figure. When that happened, those well familiar with Ben Cannon and his scheming, scamming ways began coming out of the closet and telling eerily similar tales.
And within them, the truth about Ben Cannon began to emerge.
No longer was it considered cute that a 29-year-old con artist who still reportedly lived at home with his parents was out playing big-shot entrepreneur. Cannon's claims of grandeur began bringing him unwanted attention, such as an arrest for impersonating a police officer--a charge later dropped due to conflicting evidence reports.
Google searches for "Ben Cannon" "Gpal" "Fraud" and "scam" began yielding more fruit than a south Florida citrus harvest, and with them, more victims of previous Ben Cannon excursions began coming forth.
And they are still coming forth at the time of this writing.
The long and the short of it is that it strongly appears Ben Cannon and Gpal have not been paying out the money they've been taking in from gun world customers. Along the way, amidst a huge and ever growing number of complaints, Cannon has not-so-subtly changed the Terms of Service at Gpal--a move that has now garnered the attention of the FBI and the FTC.
There are a number of forums and gun-world related sites replete with honest, law-abiding gun sellers who are out sums of money ranging from $50 on upwards to four-figures, with some even claiming that they are out five-figures.
How they have not been paid is the question.
If I sell you a gun for $5000 and you pay me via Gpal, then Gpal has $5000 of your money in their account, plus a fee from the percentage. I then request the $5000 be moved into my account. Gpal's TOS stated, at the time, three to seven business days for the transfer to occur.
That should have been the first bells going off. Up to seven business days to transfer money being held in accounts right next to each other?
But in many cases, the transfer wasn't done in seven days. In many instances, those transfers weren't even done in seventy days. So now, I'm out $5000 for this one transaction. If I've done several more nice gun sales, I could easily be out up to $10,000 in funds tied up in Ben Cannon's Gpal scheme, waiting on my money that the buyers paid in good faith and which has been documented to be in a Gpal account, to be transferred into my account.
Only, in too many cases, the transfers are not happening.
Our question is Why the hell not?
My gut feeling and opinion is because Ben Cannon and Gpal have already spent it, and are now having to wait on more money to come in so they can cover the outbound transfers. Ponzi scheme, anyone?
Ben Cannon has been spotted on several "lifestyles of the rich and adventuresome" websites and forums. He goes by the handle of "artherd" and has a smarmy picture of himself leaning on a silver foreign car and holding up a copy of the Wall Street Journal. http://www.luxury4play.com/business/43468-bank-bank-wire-transfers-2.html
There are literally countless more threads and links one can follow within the gun (and now guitar world, it seems) owners community to read about more tales of woe from Ben Cannon and Gpal.
The one thing that is obvious is that there is more than enough smoke billowing up to indicate a raging, out-of-control fire in the bedroom/office inside his parents' house where the latest "love 'em and leave 'em" business adventure by Ben Cannon is taking place.
Problem is, it's honest, decent law-abiding gun-owners who are getting burned. And for some of them, no amount of first aid can come fast enough as some have already had to shut their doors due to having their money disappear while entrusted to Ben Cannon and Gpal.
And that's what the most despicable of all.