CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The U.S. Postal Service is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing problem of counterfeit postage stamps making their way into the United States.
In a statement to FOX 8 News, Postal Inspector Ian Ortega of Cleveland says, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is aware of an increase in suspected counterfeit stamps offered for sale with many being offered on online platforms and websites. It is believed many of the counterfeit stamps are produced outside of the United States.”
Russ James, Owner of Heritage Coins and Collectibles in Brecksville, is very familiar with and knowledgeable of counterfeits.
He says he was easily able to find stamps being sold online, many of them suspected of being from overseas sellers, that he strongly suspects of being counterfeit.
One of the red flags for James is the fact that the stamps are being sold below their face value with free shipping.
“The value of a forever stamp is what the current market value is, so if a forever stamp is worth 55 cents, why would anybody sell a forever stamp for 34 cents?” said James.
The U.S. Postal Service says it does not sell stamps below the value listed on the stamp.
James believes the majority of forgeries, not just for stamps but for everything, are coming from Asia. He says the quality of the printing makes it extremely difficult to tell a forgery from the real thing.
“A lot of the main differences are only in coloration and to the untrained eye, they are not picked up,” said James.
The Postal Service says the best way to avoid being taken is to buy stamps directly from them.
In their statement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service tells FOX 8 it is actively working to identify shipments of counterfeit postage stamps entering the U.S. and the online sales of suspected counterfeit stamps.
James, who is nationally regarded for his knowledge of and his ability to grade rare and highly collectible coins, says when he identifies counterfeits of very high value, he will report them to the Secret Service and will report the sale of suspected counterfeit items to the websites where they are being sold.
However, to avoid being taken, he says he has one golden rule.
“The general rule of thumb is if something sounds too good to be true, it typically is,” James said.