12 July 2020
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Stamp Fraud

stamp fraud

Royal Mail is working hard to combat stamp fraud, and ensure we get paid for all the work we do.

It is a crime to knowingly use counterfeit or re-used stamps. Anyone who does so may face criminal prosecution or Royal Mail may take civil action to recover money owed to us.

There are three types of stamp fraud:

  • Non-cancelled stamps
  • Washed stamps
  • Counterfeit stamps

What Royal Mail is doing

We have invested in new products, materials and analytics to make stamp fraud much more difficult.

We are also working with online marketplaces and charities to reduce the collection and sale of ‘kiloware’ – stamps collected and sold by weight.

Working together, Our Group Intelligence Unit (GIU), Criminal Law Team (CLT) and Investigation Teams have pursued a number of fraudsters for distributing or selling counterfeit or re-used stamps. This also involves recovery of financial losses, preventing further online trading as well as preparing and protecting the business against further stamp fraud. 

Royal Mail takes any attempt to defraud it extremely seriously. We actively investigate to find the source of counterfeit or re-used stamps. Our security team works tirelessly to protect our customers from buying fraudulent stamps.

What you can do

Colleagues can help to reduce stamp fraud by taking the following steps:

Cancel all stamps

If you see any stamps which aren’t cancelled, please use a Trodat stamper or a pen, not a Banner marker, to strike through the stamp.

Consider alternative fundraising to collecting stamps as ‘kiloware’

Kiloware is a major source of ‘cancelled’ stamps for criminals who buy and wash them to remove the envelope and cancellation marks. Stamps are sold loose or on backing paper and used as postage by unsuspecting customers whose items may not be processed or may incur a postage and a delivery fee. Finding alternatives to collecting used stamps to support your chosen charities helps to reduce the opportunity for fraud. Royal Mail has a Community Support Scheme where we will match the money you raise up to £200 for all national or local eligible charities. See here for further details.

Look for fraudulent and washed stamps during processing

Refer to the posters on display in all the manual work areas and collection hubs – if you see any suspect stamps during processing, please put them in the designated container for Revenue Protection teams. In the event that the suspect items are overlooked, please raise with your manager or work place coach so that the mail can be taken out of the system for further investigation.

Where to look for suspect stamped items

  • Collection mail including collection hubs
  • Mail sent for handstamping, including parcels
  • Box 10 rejects on the Culler Facer Canceller (CFC)
  • Normal rejects on the Integrated Mail Processors (IMPs) and intelligent Letter Sorting Machines  (iLSMs)
  • Inward and outward sorting of letters, large letters and parcels

What to look for in genuine stamps which will have the following anti-fraud features

  • Die cuts within the body of the stamps
  • The words 'Royal Mail' printed in a special ink across the surface of the stamp
  • Wider oval perforations along both sides, close to the base of the stamp

What to look for in counterfeit stamps

  • Some may have one or more of the following characteristics, particularly our 1st and 2nd Class letter and large letter stamps:
  • Security ovals on each side of the stamp are missing or uneven
  • Unusual colourings
  • Uneven borders
  • An unusually shiny surface
  • Strange ‘fish scale’ iridescent overprint on the Queen’s head
  • Parallel rows of overprint text on the Queen’s head
  • Dark blue line around the Queen’s head
  • A dull central band with two glossy bands on each side of the stamp
  • A very glossy strip down the centre of the stamp, the paper and central strip are glossier than real stamps
  • Wavy or very pointed perforations on the edges of the stamp
  • A number of items from the same sender if a batch or sheet of counterfeit stamps has been used
  • Some real stamps or a postage paid labels may also be used on the item to detract from the used or counterfeit stamps

What to look for in washed or used stamps

  • Fainter and inconsistent in colour
  • Dull or non-existent iridescent overprint (the shiny text across the stamp and Queen's head)
  • Roughened or damaged surface
  • Faint cancellation marks across the surface of the stamp
  • Old envelope or backing paper still attached to the stamp
  • Sold ungummed or stuck onto plain backing paper without the Royal Mail security print
  • Damaged or removed security ovals on either side

Where to go for help

Speak with your local RP team who have received specialist training to identify fraudulent stamps or contact the Group Intelligence Unit on stamps.intelligence@royalmail.com or 0207 707 4504. 

We are raising customer awareness on www.royalmail.com  under Personal Help - What is Stamp Fraud? This information helps our customers understand what stamp fraud is and gives guidance on how to ensure they purchase genuine stamps and avoid buying counterfeit and used stamps. If our customers suspect stamp fraud they can complete an online form which is sent to our criminal team.