Over the holiday period, there is an estimated 1.3 billion cards that pass through the USPS system which has made counterfeit stamps a huge problem for not just the post office, but for the likes of eBay and Facebook too.
At this time of the year when more letters are getting sent, and more deals are being advertised it is easy for scammers to lure unsuspecting customers in with the promise of cheaper than usual stamps. Andrea Avery is an assistant inspector at the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which is the law enforcement department of the post office said the following.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of fake stamp sites on Facebook…A substantial discount means the stamps are likely counterfeit.”Andrea Avery, Assistant Inspector, USPIS
The current price of a first-class forever stamp is 58 cents. However, some Facebook ads have been advertising the ‘Black Friday Facebook’ discount which was offering 100 stamps for just $39.90 a markdown of 31% on the true cost of a stamp.
The Online Counterfeit Stamps Problem
Postal inspectors at USPIS are aware of the increase of counterfeit stamps being listed for sale online across a number of platforms. They believe that the vast majority of these stamps are being produced outside of the US and they are working with other government agencies to identify and stop these shipments from entering the country.
Facebook has responded with a statement regarding the ads that they were made aware of:
The ad for the phony Black Friday stamp deal was linked to a page that has been removed. UUStamps has been taken off Facebook along with others, including UUSMalls Online and Uusforever…These pages have been removed from our platform after repeatedly violating our policies against deceptive and misleading practices meant to scam people out of money.”
Facebook also encourages all users to report any ads they see which they believe to be in violation of their policies. According to the USPIS inspectors, any ad that offers a significant discount on stamps is definitely going to be a counterfeit site and should be reported.
eBay also has a tough job on its hands as it seems that no matter how many times they remove listings or seller accounts, more will just appear in their place. Ken Martin a Director of the American Philatelic Society, went on record and stated that eBay almost always has counterfeit stamps available for sale.
When asked about the counterfeit stamps eBay responded with the following:
“We monitor listings to prevent counterfeit stamps from being offered and Forever stamps may be sold only by sellers who follow our policies and have a history of high customer satisfaction. All items purchased on eBay, including stamps, are covered by a money-back guarantee.”
“Counterfeits are not tolerated on eBay including the sale of counterfeit stamps…we use artificial intelligence, image recognition and other technology to stop sophisticated bad actors from circumventing our rules.”eBay Spokesperson
Sadly counterfeits have always been a problem when it comes to eCommerce and whilst eBay and Facebook both have systems in place to try and dissuade bad actors from scamming Americans it seems that some still fall through the gaps.
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