U.S. Postal Service making progress in war on counterfeit postage, postmaster general says

The U.S. Postal Service says it’s progressing in the war against counterfeit postage, but hasn’t said how much the quasi-governmental corporation has lost to forgers, chiefly located in China.

As the holiday mailing season approaches, the agency said it’s on the lookout for the fakes.

Advertised on Facebook and other social media, the half-price “discount” postage is touted as costing a fraction of the current 66-cent first-class postage rate as a “closeout” item.

But the USPS doesn’t discount postage, and current first-class stamps, marked “Forever,” are valid for the rate in place at the time of mailing.

Modern printing techniques and the ability of forgers to apply phosphorescent “tagging” — invisible to the naked eye but seen by letter sorting equipment — has made it possible to create duplicates that can fool many consumers.

A shift in recent years from line-engraved to offset printing of postage stamps may also have contributed to an increase in counterfeits.

In February, the USPS said it would update its “Domestic Mail Manual,” its volume of regulations governing mail delivery, to allow it to treat mail with forged postage as “abandoned” and subject to disposal at the agency’s discretion.

In a video briefing Tuesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said “different types of detection methodologies” have led to a “significant, over 50% reduction” in the number of packages tendered with counterfeit postage.

“We also have used our Postal Inspection Service — in collaboration with local authorities and federal authorities — to trace back who the shippers were, and a number of arrests have been made and publicized across the nation,” Mr. DeJoy said.

Some forgers have become emboldened — and even careless — in their work. Linn’s Stamp News, a philatelic weekly, reported this month that a 2010 U.S. “Love” stamp was counterfeited in a size larger than the authentic postage stamp.

In its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2022, the USPS seized more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps, a spokesman said via email. The seizures avoided an estimated $7.8 million in postage losses.

The spokesman said the USPS is working to shut down websites selling counterfeit postage and has promised “engagement and partnership with e-commerce companies” to stop such sales.

A spokesman for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, where numerous ads for “discount” postage appear, has not responded to inquiries about the issue.

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