Using Fake Postage Stamps Can Get You In Trouble!

 Using Fake Postage Stamps Can Get You In Trouble!

 7/2/2024 | Staff

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Text: Under a black light, you can see: The (top) row glows under the black light meaning that these stamps are authentic.  The (bottom) row does not glow under the black light, this stamp is fake.  It only takes a few seconds to shine a black light over postage stamps.


The rise of counterfeit postage stamps if flooding the market  and driving up the price of real postage stamps.  The current cost of one forever stamp is $0.68 with the USPS asking Congress to raise prices to $0.73, which will take effect on July 14, 2024.

Detecting fake Forever Stamps in the United States can be done through several methods, ranging from simple visual checks to more technical approaches. Here are some easy ways to identify counterfeit stamps:
 

UV Light Detection
- Genuine Stamps: Real Forever Stamps typically have security features that are visible under UV light. They may show specific patterns or colors that fluoresce.
- Fake Stamps: Counterfeit stamps may not have these features or may show inconsistent or incorrect patterns under UV light.

51 LED UV Black Light (this is the on I personally use) 
 

Coloration and Printing Quality
- Genuine Stamps: Real Forever Stamps have high-quality printing, with sharp and clear images. The colors are consistent and vibrant.
- Fake Stamps: Counterfeit stamps often have blurry images, poor printing quality, and inconsistent colors. The details might look smudged or fuzzy.

Comparison with Known Genuine Stamps
- Genuine Stamps: Compare the suspected stamp with a known genuine stamp. Look for any differences in color, design, and overall quality.
- Fake Stamps: Even small discrepancies can indicate a counterfeit.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text: Do these stamps look the same quiz.

Price and Source
- Genuine Stamps: Always buy stamps from reputable sources, such as the United States Postal Service (USPS) offices, their official website, or authorized retailers.  Unless they USPS is working with its shipping partners, stamps are never placed on sale.
- Fake Stamps: If a deal seems too good to be true (e.g., a large quantity of Forever Stamps being sold at a significantly reduced price), it might be a scam.




Paper Quality (can be harder to detect)
- Genuine Stamps: The paper used for real stamps is usually of high quality and has a certain feel to it. It’s often thicker and has a more professional finish.
- Fake Stamps: Counterfeit stamps may use cheaper, thinner paper. They might feel different to the touch, often less substantial.
 

Perforations and Die Cuts
- Genuine Stamps: The perforations and die cuts on authentic stamps are precise and uniform. The edges should be clean and consistent.
- Fake Stamps: Counterfeit stamps might have irregular or uneven perforations. The edges may look rough or poorly cut.

Stamp Perforation Gauge
 

You can use the USPS website itself to see how the perforations and die cuts should look like.

Design and Fonts
- Genuine Stamps: The design elements and fonts on real stamps are consistent and follow specific standards set by USPS. There should be no spelling errors or inconsistencies in the design.
- Fake Stamps: Counterfeit stamps may have design flaws, incorrect fonts, or misspellings.


Using these methods can help you detect fake Forever Stamps easily and protect yourself from fraud. If in doubt, consulting with USPS or a philatelic expert can provide further assurance. 

Where Are Your Stamps Coming From?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) prints its postage stamps domestically within the United States. The USPS has stringent quality control measures and security protocols to ensure the authenticity and integrity of its postage stamps, which are better managed within the country. Historically, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) and private printing contractors, such as Banknote Corporation of America and Sennett Security Products, have been responsible for printing U.S. postage stamps. These entities are all based in the United States.

There are no known or official instances of the USPS outsourcing the printing of its stamps to other countries. The production process is closely monitored to prevent counterfeiting and to maintain the high standards required for postage stamps.

If you order postage stamps online and the stamps are coming from China, they are fake and you've been scammed.  Look for US postage labels over Chinese shipping labels.  Extended weight times for receiving postage. Tracking that shows that your shipment of postage stamps started in China or some other country.

If you come across information suggesting that USPS stamps are being printed outside the United States, it would likely be incorrect or misleading. Always verify such information with official USPS sources or trusted philatelic organizations.

You Could be in Serious Trouble for Passing Fake Stamps

Using or buying fake postage stamps in the United States is illegal and subject to federal laws. Here are key points regarding the legal consequences:
 

Mail Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341)
- Definition: Using counterfeit stamps to send mail can be considered mail fraud. This involves using the postal system to execute a scheme to defraud.
- Penalties: Mail fraud is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years. If the fraud affects a financial institution, the prison term can extend to 30 years, and fines can be increased.
 

Counterfeiting and Forgery (18 U.S.C. § 501)
- Definition: Counterfeiting postage stamps falls under counterfeiting and forgery laws. This includes producing, possessing, or using fake stamps.
- Penalties: Violations can result in fines and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years.
 

Theft of Postal Service Property (18 U.S.C. § 1707)
- Definition: This law covers the unauthorized possession of postal property, including counterfeit postage stamps.
- Penalties: Penalties include fines and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
 

Civil Penalties
- Definition: Besides criminal penalties, using or buying counterfeit stamps can lead to civil penalties, including fines and restitution to the USPS for lost revenue.
- Penalties: The amount varies depending on the extent of the fraud and the financial impact on the USPS.

Prosecution by USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG)
- Definition: The USPS OIG investigates mail fraud and counterfeit postage stamp cases. They can pursue both criminal and civil charges.
- Penalties: Depending on the investigation findings, the OIG can refer cases for prosecution, resulting in the penalties mentioned above.
 

Denial of Service
- Definition: If counterfeit stamps are detected, the USPS may refuse to deliver the mail and can return it to the sender marked as unpaid.
- Penalties: The sender may incur additional postage fees or fines.
 

Practical Tips to Avoid Legal Issues:

 
1. Buy from Authorized Sources: Purchase stamps directly from USPS offices, their official website, or authorized retailers.

2. Verify Authenticity: Use the methods mentioned earlier to verify the authenticity of stamps before using them. A UV light works the best, is the easiest to use and lets you know right away.

3. Report Suspicions: If you suspect you've received counterfeit stamps, report it to the USPS or the USPS Office of Inspector General.

4. Use a magnifying glass to spot discrepancies between real and fake stamps.


Understanding and adhering to these laws can help avoid severe legal consequences associated with counterfeit postage stamps.

Other Resources (click on the links below)

USPIS Counterfeit Stamps

Identify Counterfeit Postage 

Stamp Frauds

If you find USPS postage stamp listings on Wish.com or Shein these are fake stamps. Listings on eBay may or may not be fake, but if the deal is too good to be true, then they are likely fake.

Simple UV Light Test, if in doubt if stamps are real or fake, simply as the seller to make a short video shining a black light over the stamps.  Just like in the images, if the stamps shine bright white, they are fake and don't' buy them. 

Report Sellers of Fake Stamps

Report Directly at USPIS: PostageFraudReporting@uspis.gov

Or visit: https://www.uspis.gov/report

 

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Images from: Our Mail, eBay, Wish.com, Shein USA.


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