Saturday 5 January 2019

Successful prosecution for stamp laundering

At the end of November I reprinted the Charity Commissioners' warning to charities about aiding and abetting postal fraud by selling uncancelled stamps. 

I did this because of the impact any reduction in charity stamp gathering and reselling as kiloware would have on both dealers and collectors in their hunt for, especially, higher value collectable stamps.

It's clear that eBay has a lot of listings for stamps which have passed through the post as they are stuck onto envelopes or waxed paper, and obviously not as sold by post offices.  There are also evident forgeries - notably of the 1st class large business sheet stamps which have no year code, an impossibility for any of the red stamps.

Reuse of the occasional uncancelled stamp is not unusual, but BirminghamLive has reported on the case of a couple in their 50s who were literally laundering used stamps on a massive scale, as reported here.  These two were not just removing uncancelled stamps from paper using white spirit (a well-known trick), they chemically removed the postmarks, used talcum powder to dry the stamps and then sprayed them with hairspray to "make them look better"!

They "established a company called Stampbusters as a vehicle for the illegal enterprise which was registered to their home with both of them named as directors.  The company was registered on Companies House.

"The value of the amount of stamps sold was £443,244 while the defendants profited to the tune of £149,344" over five years.

The defence lawyer said "there was a degree of unsophistication about it and that she had made no attempt to hide what she was doing."

So they - between them - made £30,000 per annum.  It really does seem that the effort involved could have been put to better use and they could have earned a reasonable amount instead.

Now they have at least 12 months of a 2 year sentence in jail to contemplate a more honest occupation, but not one involving any trust.


  1. It will be interesting to see what sum the prosecution come up with for the confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

  2. Perfect result. Let's now hope they go for the buyers and leave the charities alone.


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