Feds Throw Book At YouTuber & ‘Auto Key Card’ Seller for Illegal Machinegun Conversions

in 2nd Amendment – R2KBA, Current Events, This Week
YouTuber Matthew Hoover in front of an American flag.
Hoover was sentenced to five years in prison. Do you believe that is a fair sentence? (Photo: Youtube/ CRS Firearms)

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A prominent YouTuber and an “Auto Key Card” seller face hefty prison sentences following their convictions for illegal firearms activity.

Unregistered Conversions Lead to Conviction

Kristopher Justinboyer Ervin, 43, of Orange Park, Florida, has been sentenced to five years and eight months, while Matthew Raymond Hoover, 39, of Wisconsin, received a five-year sentence.

Their crimes?

Conspiring to transfer — and transferring — unregistered machinegun conversion devices.

Bank Alert Triggered Investigation

The case began in January 2021 when Ervin’s bank alerted the ATF about possible illegal activity.

The investigation unveiled Ervin’s online business, selling alleged machinegun conversion devices dubbed, “Auto Key Cards.” They were marketed as “pen holders” and “novelties,” according to the Feds.

SEE ALSO: FBI Director Wray Admits Gov’t Been Seizing Personal Data from Banks Related to Gun Purchases

Important Product Disclaimer

The product description on the website accessed by GunsAmerica in 2021 directed users, “Do not cut or alter artwork in any way” and described the item as a “Business Logo Card, Great Conversation Piece, Artwork and Novelty.”

In the Terms of Service posted on autokeycards.com, the company told its customers, “You may not use our products for any illegal or unauthorized purpose nor may you, in the use of the Service, violate any laws in your jurisdiction.”

None of this was enough to protect Ervin or Hoover from prosecution.

Covert Operations

ATF and USPIS agents watched Ervin drop off packages containing these devices at an Orange Park post office.

A lightning link, extracted from these cards, can be used to turn a legal AR-15 firearm into an automatic weapon, according to the ATF.

YouTube’s Role in The ‘Scheme

An auto key card.
Ervin sold metal, credit-card-sized cards that had been laser engraved with the outline of a lightning link. Some of the cards also doubled as bottle openers, according to this page accessed by GunsAmerica. The AutoKeyCard 3in1 with Bottle Opener sold for $109.

Investigators claim that Hoover’s YouTube channel, CRS Firearms, boosted the device’s sales.

By advertising the Auto Key Cards, the Feds say it led many to Ervin’s doorstep, contributing to over 2,000 sales in mere months.

The partnership was profitable; Hoover received cash and luxury items as compensation.

Feds Raid Uncovers Auto Key Card Operation

A March raid at Ervin’s residence revealed etchings for over 1,500 lightning links. In total, the duo’s operation involved around 6,600 individual lightning links.

However, defenders of Ervin and Hoover contend that the links were not drawn to scale. Therefore, they could not actually be used to convert a semi-auto firearm to a full auto firearm.

Moreover, they argue that the ATF failed to prove in court that the lightning links on the cards were a viable conversion means.

Defenders also suggest that the entire product was a joke designed to tweak the nose of the ATF.

Coordinated Effort Ends the Operation

ATF’s Jacksonville Field Office, in collaboration with various agencies, led this probe.

Kirk Howard, the Special Agent in Charge, stressed the importance of their collective work, ensuring that such “schemes” do not undermine federal firearms laws.

Comment from Special Agent in Charge

“Investigating this case required dedication and tenacity on behalf of ATF’s Jacksonville Field Office and our partner agencies on this matter—the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Howard in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.

“Our work was necessary to prove the true nature of the Auto Key Cards being sold by Ervin and Hoover and disrupt their audacious scheme to circumvent federal firearms laws,” he added.

SEE ALSO: Three Funeral-Goers Arrested for Possession of Auto Sears

Project Safe Neighborhoods’

This case is part of what the Feds call “Project Safe Neighborhoods” (PSN) – a unified initiative that brings communities and law enforcement together against violent crime.

For those in possession of an Auto Key Card, the ATF urges immediate surrender of the device for destruction.

It’s not clear at this point if those who surrender their cards or those who admit to possessing one will face prosecution as well.

Your Thoughts?

What are your thoughts? Did Hoover and Ervin get a fair sentence for their alleged crimes?

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  • Clint W. October 5, 2023, 10:59 pm

    “The case began in January 2021 when Ervin’s bank alerted the ATF about possible illegal activity. ” I wonder how the bank knew what he was doing? Were they suspicious about him depositing 2000 X 109 or $218,000 in a few months time? How did they know it was firearm related in order to call the ATF? If the part as sold could not be made to work, why is any of this a crime? Why wouldn’t it be like those inert but real hand grenades that are sold as souvenirs, where an ingenious person could probably fashion a mechanism and explosive to make it live? Might make those “Pull pin for customer service” grenades in stores a bit more interesting. Maybe Ervin needs better lawyers and a retrial.

  • Clint W. October 5, 2023, 10:33 pm

    The ATF went to an extreme many years ago in an attempt to convict a man of possessing a machine gun as ratted on by his ex-wife. If you load the rounds wth the primer high, it will make a stock AR go full auto until the mag is empty, thus a machine gun. When the evidence was presented of the ATF’s ‘custom ammo’, the judge threw the case out of court. The law is so strict, that even a malfunctioning firearm that fires more than one round with one trigger pull can be considered a machine gun with the owner duly charges with illegal possession. When S&W came out with their first semi-auto pistol about 3 decades ago, my shooting buddy bought one, and besides the fact that the edges were so sharp you could shave with it, on his first outing, it emptied a full mag of 9MM without stopping. Man it was cool, but he sent it back to the factory. If an ATF agent would have been there, he could have been arrested on the spot.

  • Hondo September 27, 2023, 11:42 am

    F*CK the fed, what a clown show.

  • Buckshott00 September 17, 2023, 6:25 pm

    It’s ridiculous. You don’t get to accuse people of crimes, arrest, and prosecute them, without actually even having defined the crime. The ATF used this case to try and make court standing against their other egregious behavior. It’s complete BS. They can’t redefine a law after the fact. That’s the epitome of a Kangaroo Court

    I can’t believe any judge allowed this. Defund the ATF, lock up all Feds in the

  • Dutch September 17, 2023, 5:37 pm

    Blue Dog, just to educate you a bit on your Federal Laws, the National Firearms Act of 34 and the Gun Control Act of 68 are totally un-Constitutional and according to the history, tradition and text of the U.S. Constitution should never have been implemented. Bogus laws restricting the 2A rights of American citizens! This INCLUDES fully automatic weapons, short barreled rifles and shotguns, silencers, etc. etc.. The idea behind the Constitution was to arm citizens, not the military (remember, the U.S. had no standing army at the time of Constitutional draft, and really still doesn’t. Only since the Militia Act of 1792 did the army organize, before then there was a Continental army of state volunteers). The founding fathers knew from the past that a government amassing power was a threat to liberty, and the only way to keep this in check was to arm the public with like weaponry. Getting down to brass tacks, liberals are pro big government, conservatives are not. Really comes down to do you like being told what to do every minute of the day about how you run your life, i.e., slave, or do you think you have enough brains and morality to lead your own life.

    • Kane September 18, 2023, 11:48 am

      “Getting down to brass tacks, liberals are pro big government, conservatives are not. ”

      I agree with your post except I would change the word “liberals” to lefty or some other term even though I understand what you mean. There are a few ‘classic liberals’ out there that point out that they were always pro 2A where at various times Democrats and Republicans shifted on the issue.

      There is a video, “8 Facts about the SECOND AMENDMENT” where a Trevor Krause with Learn Liberty makes some great points on the wording of the 2A and the history of these issues. I have used the term liberal alot but I am trying to be more precise because these lefty anti-2A are not the “liberals” of days gone by. The liberals of the past could be approached and most often were intelligent and consistant. There has been a sea change in US politics brought on by the brain washing institutions called “higher education.”

      The lefties of today, mostly generation Z, will NOT allow others to speak. They are full of contradictions and are far more dangerous that any political movement ever before. The left of Generation Z are extensively educated group of morons who have little in common with previous US generations and are the worst sort of hypocrites.

      Blue Dog is certainly NOT generation Z and he is NOT a “classis liberal” and would at some point be denounced by the lefties of today. BD is an odd fit who foolishly believes he will find some ‘happy medium’ with a social movement that holds no absolute truths. The left of Generation Z, own firearms but do NOT cherish the freedom acknowleged in the 2A. Like a Communist cell member, the generation Z see firearms only as a mean to an end and BD does NOT see any of this coming.

      • Blue Dog (he/him) September 18, 2023, 4:32 pm

        I’m an odd fit because I am a moderate.

        It seems like Generation Z (zed?) is learning about firearms mostly from video games, not from their fathers, teaching about responsibility and safety. No wonder they don’t understand responsible firearm use or responsible citizenship, balancing personal freedoms with responsibilities to the public – the social contract.

    • Blue Dog (he/him) September 18, 2023, 4:25 pm

      Dutch, you are attributing some of the NFA Act of 1935 to the GCA. Short-barreled rifles and shotguns and silencers were regulated as firearms under the NFA. The GCA established classes of prohibited possessors and regulated (I remember that word from somewhere…) interstate commerce and imports.

      Both are the kinds of limits the founders suggested in both their writings and the freedom documents themselves. Dare I say, Thomas Jefferson and I’ll raise you one ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

      • Kane September 18, 2023, 9:55 pm

        “…(I remember that word from somewhere…)…” -BD

        You should watch the video.

        Meanwhile, here a few more pointers this time from Pulitzer Prize winner Jack Rakove, Stanford Law and Poly Sci professor, enjoy.

        “Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined,” according to Rakove. “It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it now, in that it’s not about the regulatory state. There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape to fight.”

        OK, so you saw a word and misinterpreted it’s meaning for most of your life, that happens. It’s NOT like the well regulated tax code.

        Get it now?

        • Blue Dog (he/him) September 19, 2023, 12:06 pm

          Ok, this tugs at an interesting point here. Word histories, evolution of languages (especially English) and etymology fascinate me. One online source suggests that regulate entered English as a verb meaning “to govern by restriction” in the early 1600s from Latin “regulare” (to control by rule, direct) and its past participle “regulaten” (adjust by rule, method or control) and about a half-century later, the verb was applied by clockmakers to mean “adjust with reference to a standard of accuracy”. Essentially, I claim it means the former, you claim it means the latter. Are there other uses of regulate as a verb or adjective that the Founders (what is this, the Dominion?) used that might help us better understand their meaning here? Had regulate widely begun to be used to refer to maintaining the readiness of a group by the 1770s? This is an interesting thread to pull. I wish I could find a source of early uses of regulate.

          • Kane September 19, 2023, 3:41 pm

            So, I would offer an explicit example (or is word empirical a better choice in this instance?) of the drill masters that all competent military organizations have relied on for thousands of years. Prussian Baron Freidrich von Steuben is an example of one who trained US troops at Valley Forge and was instrumental in the success of that battle. That was a “well regulated militia.”

            You could also move forward and see that George McClellen in the civil war creditted with drilling and training Union troops fdrom various States. Detractors of McClellen still will give him credit for forming the disipline and order in the earlier stages of the USCW and the First Bull Run.

            What types of examples can you offer on the “regulation” of flintlocks before and after the US revolution. Can you offer anything like government registration (NOT muster rolls and sight counts) serial numbers, confiscations or whatever examples you got to prove your points?

          • Kane September 21, 2023, 6:10 pm

            Umm, no answer means the debate was settled in favor of my facts. James Madison was NOT establishing a Constitututional basis for ‘gun control.’ Madison was a Federalist but the “Bill of Rights” was written to placate the anti-Federalists. Just as Jack Rakove stated that a “well regulated” mean’t then and now a “well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined” militia.

            Out of respect for etymology, you should concede that every definitions you offered is consistant with Rakove’s interpretation. There are no supporting examples before or years after 1791 supporting your interpretation of “regulated.”

  • Dutch September 17, 2023, 4:52 pm

    Total bullshit, and totally not fair, when you consider that the feds and New Mexico turned a confessed gun runner (that in just one of many offenses, sold a machine gun to a student) over to a half way house. Seems like the law only applies to whomever this corrupt U.S. faux president wants it to.

  • Doc Loch September 17, 2023, 4:40 pm

    Vote Ramaswamy and he will end the ATF. That is if there is any real voting the in this 3rd world crime hole!

  • CMChaso September 16, 2023, 5:39 am

    Well, most of the ignorant tools in this country already think that an AR is Full Auto, because of the way it LOOKS! (And because of the “education” they get from Hollywierd) Hell, they think that SEMI-Auto MEANS “Machine-gun” and AR stands for ASSAULT RIFLE! Pure ignorance! But the Media whores and the gub’mint just encourage this crap, while they flood our streets with military age illegal invaders from all over the world! Put a stupid item into your rifle that is going too make it blow-up in your face, and YOU are the outlaw! WHAT can possibly go wrong with a society like this??

  • Jaoquin September 15, 2023, 3:49 pm

    Well, I see the censors here are alive and well. Heaven forbid a person should be allowed to express their thoughts unless it aligns with the author’s crap.

  • Jaoquin September 15, 2023, 3:31 pm

    Up to a point I agree with you. Was what they did stupid, perhaps but if you are going to prosecute “stupid” then you would need to start with the head of the democrat party and work your way down. I don’t believe we have enough prison space to hold all of them.
    HOWEVER, it is the end user that is the “problem” in as much that the “part” is unusable unless completed by the end user. I have in my barn, cans of gasoline for various machines I own. I also have empty glass containers of various sorts and lots of rags for wiping up/off grease, oil, or whatever. Obviously those are the components for Molotov cocktails. Does that mean I should be prosecuted for owning “POTENTIAL” arson items and the filling station, auto parts store where I purchased the “rags” and the liquor store where I bought the beer, should be charged also? According to your reasoning, that would be the case.

    • Fred September 18, 2023, 11:52 am

      Like having a long gun and hacksaw in close proximity.

  • alan September 15, 2023, 3:13 pm

    So if i take a piece of metal and draw or etch the lightning link i now have an illegal part? nice, what a crock of crap. a dangerous precedent by an overeaching government. i guess if i have a design on paper for a suppressor or a sharpie line on my barrel less than 16″ wo a tax stamp im also guilty. since when did drawings of firearm parts become a violation of firearm laws? these guys should be pardoned by the next president.

  • Robert Willitts September 15, 2023, 11:40 am

    The whole idea of selling and promoting these items was in such poor taste and so incredibly stupid that they both should get trophies for “Over The Top” ignorance. I am a gun owner and avid 2A defender, but full auto conversion is illegal and that is just the way it is, don’t like it.. too bad, it is the law. Break it and get caught and you have big, big problems. The item is not to scale?, you are kidding right? Does anyone think that for $109 the buyers though the were just getting a bottle opener? If you do, go right now and check yourself into a mental hospital, because you have lost it and need a nice rubber room. Now to be serious, they promoted and supplied an item that at a minimum provided a blueprint to modify a legal rifle to an illegal state. I think that is intent to assist in the violation of Federal law at the minimum and I am not ok with that.

    • CMChaso September 16, 2023, 5:25 am

      Yeah. We can’t have those “Thought Crimes” in this country!

    • Delta3Two September 16, 2023, 10:19 am

      Willets….I laugh when hypocrites ike you endorse yourselves as supporters of the 2d Amendment and thus the US CONstitution. Fools like you claim “….its the law.” and thus it is legal ! Well the “law” says the US borders should be controlled. They are no longer existent The US Constitution, the law” states the right of CITIZENS to bear arms “….SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.” But that law has been violated and broken tens of thousands of times by the scum one calls “government”.

      You are no less a weasel than the felon and traitor pResident biden.

      • Jack September 18, 2023, 9:54 am

        I legally own multiple suppressors, SBRs, and even a couple belt fed machine guns. I’ve never had my right to keep and bear these items infringed. They just took a while longer to buy.

        • Kane September 18, 2023, 12:09 pm

          Lots of people in states like IL might have said that until recently even though it was never really true. Now those same people see the walls closing in on them and their Ruger 10/22.

          What state do you live in? Are you really watching the legislative proposals and national court cases?

      • John Boutwell September 18, 2023, 10:38 am

        Well said.

    • Big Al 45 September 18, 2023, 10:13 am

      It is perfectly legal to buy ‘blueprints’ of auto components for guns, there have been such books for some time now being sold online and by mail.
      One of the most popular was for the Mini 14.

    • Big Al 45 September 18, 2023, 10:19 am

      It is perfectly legal to sell Blueprints of auto conversions for firearms, One of the most popular has been a book on the Mini 14 conversion.

    • Kane September 18, 2023, 11:56 am

      The device does NOT even work if cut according to the directions. The expert for the prosecution did some nifty modifications NOT see since the Warren Commision, to make a device do what it could NOT originally could NOT do.

  • Walleye September 15, 2023, 10:48 am

    Nobody is safe from the “system”. If they want, any alphabet agency can raid any home workshop in America and find what they will call bomb-making materials, illegal suppressor parts, or illegal machine gun components. It would be a lie, but try proving them wrong.

    • CMChaso September 16, 2023, 5:26 am


  • Snug September 15, 2023, 9:31 am

    And yet EVERY Hood rat has a glock with a “glock switch” on itm where’s the prosecutions for those parts and the scum who use them?????

    • Big Al 45 September 18, 2023, 10:17 am

      In one case, the Prosecutor wanted to return the criminal’s gun as long as they didn’t give him back the auto switch.

  • Jack September 15, 2023, 9:29 am

    “Hoover operated a YouTube channel called CRS Firearms on which he advertised Auto Key Cards. In his videos, Hoover stated that “laws only work if we follow them” and encouraged his viewers to use “discreet ordering” by mail to purchase Auto Key Cards. Hoover stated that his viewers could cut a lightning link out of the Auto Key Card, “drop it in your receiver, scratch your full auto itch, throw it away when you’re done” and “no one’s the wiser.”

    Dude knew exactly what he was doing. FAFO

    • Robert Willitts September 15, 2023, 11:44 am

      I agree

    • Joe September 18, 2023, 8:46 pm

      Exactly – hope he has a good time behind bars.

  • Pnshr6 September 15, 2023, 9:11 am

    Some consider it unwise to poke the bear.
    Besides, with ammo prices being as high as they are, and as unavailable as ammo has been in the recent past, who needs a device designed to convert their ammo supply into useless noise & heat?

    • D.J. September 15, 2023, 1:30 pm

      I heard a saying some years back :
      “ May all of your enemies be on full auto. “
      I found that quite witty .

  • Blue Dog (he/him) September 14, 2023, 5:22 pm

    Project Safe Neighbourhoods has a friendlier ring to it than Operation Chokepoint.

    So, these guys were selling devices to… actually make a firearm (AR pattern firearm?) full auto? Not just simulating full auto fire like a bump stock? And they got arrested? Sounds like the system worked. What did they think was going to happen?

    I am really hesitant to click any links associated with this. The last thing I need is the feds thinking I want a back alley giggle switch conversion.

    There is a tension between the axioms that information wants to be free; and that knowledge carries a price. These not-to-scale patterns are information. Distributing these bottle openers and novelties is different from owning one. Where is the balance on the criminality of distributing these patterns for lightning links? This is a good question for the courts to decide and it sounds like they did. That’s how the system is supposed to work. Is this like selling copies of the Anarchist’s Cookbook or the Poor Man’s James Bond? Probably not, since most of that information is bogus. Good luck cooking up that bananadine, kid.

    • Kane September 15, 2023, 11:40 am

      “I am really hesitant to click any links associated with this. The last thing I need is the feds thinking I want a back alley giggle switch conversion.”

      What are you worried about? When the feds come to your door let them in, offer cofee, and then point out all the feckless books and magazines you read. Then show them all the left-wing police state approved firearms (1911, SCCY) you have safely stored and then report back to this MB. Thanks…

      • Blue Dog (he/him) September 15, 2023, 9:41 pm

        I sold my SCCY a few years ago. Not .45 enough for me. That would be a pretty cool pistol in a .45.

      • Blue Dog (he/him) September 15, 2023, 9:44 pm

        And you might recognise a couple of the feckless books on my shelf. You might recognise the author. Signed by the author, at that.

        • Hondo September 16, 2023, 8:25 am

          Rules for radicals or perhaps Animal Farm, how many commie books and related nonsense do you have on your shelves bluedouche it/clown?

      • Samuel Colt September 18, 2023, 4:18 am

        Why is the 1911 a Police State Approved firearm?

        • Kane September 18, 2023, 12:01 pm

          It is NOT. That’s the point, the list will grow. Anything, including a typewriter is a ‘weapon of war.’ A 1911 would eventually be on the lefty list. BD is living in denial.

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