On Your Side: Beware of counterfeit stamps scam

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:56 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - One decade ago, a stamp cost about 40 cents. Today, one costs about 60 cents.

Whether you buy stamps to pay bills or even write letters, the cost really adds up. A woman in Springfield thought she found a bargain, but it turned out to be a big scam. Letters from pen pals are a way for Janet Stafford to connect with her daughter Tracy.

“The doctor said she can comprehend everything. The doctor said she has trouble reciprocating and verbalizing what she’s feeling,” said Stafford.

But when it comes to letters with butterflies, there’s overflowing joy from Tracy. Stafford will do about anything to see Tracy’s smile. So having plenty of stamps in the house is a must.

“I figured it would be a good idea to get bulk stamps. The prices are so high,” she said.

She thought she found a deal, 300 stamps for $82.50. That’s more than 50 percent off compared to what you’d pay at your post office. It looked legit.

“Even on the website, it shows a mail carrier’s truck,” she said.

Stafford says as soon as she clicked, she got a text alert from her bank. The bank calls it a fraudulent charge from China.

Matthew Villicana is a U.S. Postal Inspector in St. Louis. He tells On Your Side swindlers take note when stamp prices jump. You think you found a sale, but they’re fake.

“The postal service will not sell stamps at a significant discount like that,” said Villicana.

A few days after we talked to Stafford, the counterfeit stamps arrived in her mailbox. Inspectors say these are similar to counterfeit cash.

“You can’t use it. It’s illegal. You need to turn that in,” said Villicana.

Stafford did that and filed a complaint. Also, inspectors warn, don’t talk with the seller, AKA the scammer.

“They may ask for personal information or banking information so that you can work for them,” said Villicana.

Fortunately, thanks to fraud protections, Stafford got her money back. Still, she wants you to know about these bogus stamps and for the scammers to be stopped.

“It makes my skin crawl. They’re trying to rob people,” she said.

Report it if you come across bogus stamps, just like Stafford did. You can do this at your post office or file a complaint online.

For the real thing, make sure you buy stamps from the post office or an established place you know and trust, like the desk at a grocery store. The postal service does not sell stamps below face value. So a 50% off sale -- is a red flag.

Also, this is just another reason to have credit card protection. Stafford could have lost about one hundred dollars.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com