Consumer Alert: Fake Stamps look much like the real ones. Here’s how we could tell ours were fake!

[anvplayer video=”5077764″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Our consumer alerts have uncovered a problem that is draining money from the pockets of consumers and the revenue of the U.S. Postal Service: Fake stamps!

Viewers have been flooding my inbox with emails. Many of you have unwittingly bought fake stamps, and it’s no wonder. The sites look authentic, the stamps look real and the crooks are cashing in.

Click here to see a picture of a real 2017 Forever Stamp. You should notice the waving flag and the number of stars and stripes visible. You can see part or all of 19 stars as well as all or part of five red and five white stripes. You can also clearly see the year 2017 in the lower left-hand corner. And beneath the top red stripe are the letters USPS in tiny font in the upper right-hand corner.

Now, click here to see what appears to be fake 2017 Forever Stamps a viewer brought to me Tuesday. They look very similar to the real ones. You can see all or part of five red and five white stripes. In tiny print beneath the red stripe are the letters USPS in the right corner, but there are only 18 stars, not 19. The font of the words USA FOREVER is different, but the casual observer would never know the difference.

Fake stamps are generally made by bad actors overseas and shipped to the U.S. One of our viewers sent me a screenshot of a Facebook ad for a website likely selling fake stamps. One hundred stamps should cost $58, but they’ve advertised them for just $39.

The website certainly looks official. It features the U.S. Postal Service logo is at the top of the webpage. But I contacted the U.S. Postal Inspector in Buffalo. And he says the U.S. Postal Service never sells stamps at less than face value. That’s a big red flag. But these fake stamps look real. It’s very difficult for a consumer to tell the difference. And even more importantly, can the USPS tell the difference? In my investigation, I found more than a dozen suspicious ads for stamps on Facebook, Instagram, Etsy and eBay.

So I reached out again to my contact at the Postal Inspection office in Buffalo. So far, I’ve not gotten a response. I’ll let you know what I learn. In the meantime, don’t fall for an ad for discount stamps. Buy them from the postal service.