Counterfeit Stamps in circulation, USPS warns

counterfeit stamps

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (Postal Inspection Service) echoes the United States Postal Service (USPS) warning urging consumers to be on alert for counterfeit stamps and counterfeit postage labels on packages.

Under federal law, Title 18 United States Code 501, it is unlawful for an individual to use, sell, or deposit packages and/or letters affixed with counterfeit postage or stamps in the U.S. Mail. If engaged in this fraudulent criminal activity, an individual may be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties. Furthermore, U.S. Mail, including packages, found with counterfeit stamps and/or postage may not be processed or delivered by USPS. Postal Inspectors are actively conducting investigations to identify the criminal misuse of the U.S. Mail, along with the perpetrators. Postal Inspectors also conduct interdictions of packages containing counterfeit postage labels and, as part of a criminal investigation, packages with affixed counterfeit postage can be seized.

The Postal Inspection Service’s Revenue Investigations Program focuses on detecting counterfeit postage labels and stamps. Postal Inspectors are working with USPS Engineering and Technology groups to continuously identify counterfeit postage. In one of many recent initiatives, the Postal Inspection Service also conducted counterfeit package interdictions with Customs and Border Protection in New York and Los Angeles where numerous freight shipments containing packages affixed with counterfeit postage were refused entry into the U.S. In one case, we seized $2.5 million in counterfeit stamps coming from China.

The Postal Inspection Service is also focusing on consumer protection. The number of counterfeit stamps being sold from online platforms has increased. Scammers sell fake stamps on social media marketplaces, e-commerce sites via third party vendors, and other websites. Typically, scammers sell counterfeit stamps at a large discount. The Postal Inspection Service recommends purchasing from Approved Postal Providers™. Approved vendors can include legitimate warehouse retailers who do provide very small discounts on postage stamps, but through resale agreements with the Postal Service. Please visit this Public Service Announcement on counterfeit postage.

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting consumers and the U.S. Mail from fraudulent activity. Engaging in counterfeit postage label and stamp fraud causes monetary losses to Postal consumers and the United States Postal Service alike,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “Fraudsters beware, the Postal Inspection Service will continue to exhaust all its efforts to disrupt your scheme, find you, and bring you to justice.”

If you feel that you have received a package affixed with counterfeit postage, please report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service fraud hotline at 800-372-8347. For more information on counterfeit stamps and other crimes, please visit www.uspis.gov.

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