Wednesday 2 May 2018

Forged and reused stamps: how to spot them and report them to Royal Mail

We have previously said that, while we know that Royal Mail take fraud and forged stamps seriously they don't actually tackle the problem at source, instead just surcharging recipients.

Now Royal Mail have two new pages on their website, one giving guidance on how to spot forgeries and reused stamps, and the other providing an avenue for reporting.

What is stamp fraud?  is here

Report stamp fraud  is here

The second page includes these questions:
Do you still have any remaining stamps or envelopes with the invalid stamps?
If yes, are you willing to send these to us?
So Royal Mail are asking for examples, even though recipients who are surcharged may not realise that this is a way for RM to investigate, and for them to report their concerns.  Remember, the recipient will be innocent in most cases, buying from (say) eBay sellers of various goods, who themselves have bought the (forged) stamps online.

If you have had to pay a surcharge on mail delivered to you because the stamp is allegedly forged, then you really need to read these pages.  And if you send the packaging to Royal Mail you really need to keep a photocopy or good sharp photo.  You may be able to prove that the stamps are genuine and that the surcharge was wrong.


  1. Forgery/reuse needs to be tackled, but Royal Mail's page is misleading and likely to further confuse the general public who have bought valid mint stamps at a discount from dealers. Perhaps this is partly their intention? Statements like "Genuine stamps will have the following anti-fraud features" are both incorrect and unhelpful. The Christmas stamps for sale on the Royal Mail website for example don't bear many of these features, and neither do most of the stamps issued since 1971 - all of which are still valid for use. On the other hand, most forgeries attempt to replicate the anti-fraud features. Now the general public has another source of misinformation to add to the advice given by many Post Office employees, some of whom already seem to believe that all stamps bought below face value must be fake.

  2. Hmm. There's no mention of commemorative stamps on the what is stamp fraud link. It could be inferred that the commemorative stamps are not genuine because they do not have the anti-fraud features mentioned that genuine stamps will have (die-cuts, Royal Mail printed on the stamp, and oval perforations).

  3. I thought I had some 1st class forgeries but upon reading the first paragraph on the Royal Mail's page on stamp forgeries it would appear mine must be genuine according to the following:-
    Genuine stamps will have the following anti-fraud features:
    1. Die cuts within the body of the stamps.
    2. The words 'Royal Mail' printed in a special ink across the surface of the stamp.
    3. Wider oval perforations along both sides, close to the base of the stamp.
    My stamps all show these features so must be OK.

  4. Just another example of a 1st & 2nd Class business employing 3rd class brains.

  5. I worked for Royal Mail for a long while, they always seem to employ managers that take no interest or have any idea what they are doing, also the job they are doing is below them. I gave info to revenue protection in a large Mail Centre of shop selling forged stamps around them, no action was taken.
    I also emailed straight through to Moya Greens PA giving details of a large seller on Ebay user name item numbers amount of sales etc. They were still selling years later and was a source for forged stamps for a long time. You may get one reply but as soon as it is not as simple as they think, because forged stamps look as good as Royal Mail ones, they give up.
    Royal Mail deserve to be in any pickle they are in.

  6. Would you know if these are fake?

    1. It's impossible to tell from those pictures, but would you buy from a seller with ZERO feedback who has several hundred 'surplus' stamps for sale?

      If he's selling 200 for £150 he might as well use them as first class letter stamps and save the hassle of selling on eBay, eBay and PayPal commission, and postage. (Albeit, IF these are forged then the stamps he uses for postage would probably be forged.)

  7. With re-use of postage stamps, the onus should be on the post office to prove that the stamp was previously used. Vague indicators like "non existent iridescence" mean nothing to the public. It is perfectly legitimate to soak stamps off aborted mailshots, and re-affix them to other items for postal use "as long as they have not been submitted in payment before". It stands to reason they should have zero tolerance of faint cancellation marks (even biro), sorting dots or damaged, but just because a stamp looks a bit old is no reason to refuse to accept it.
    I also think the post office should have a redemption centre, where you can submit old mint postage (say over 10 years old) on submission cards, and it can be checked and re-issued in modern form. That process can be automated by software, and it would make it more consistent with banknotes, where we are on our fourth or fifth iteration by comparison (since decimalisation).
    My local post office spends forever checking "make up values", which simply is not good business.


Thank you for reading the blog and commenting: please use an identity (name or pseudonym) rather than being Anonymous; it helps us to know which 'anonymous' comments are from the same person to avoid confusion. Comments are moderated to avoid spam, but will be published as soon as possible.