Consumer Alert: We put fake stamps to the test. How to shine a light on counterfeits

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We continue to hear from so many of you who fear you likely mailed your holiday cards with fake stamps and the question I most often get is how to tell if stamps are fake.

That’s the very question I asked the U.S. Postal Inspector in Buffalo. And he won’t tell me. All he’ll say is that stamps sold at a substantial discount are probably fake. And the stamps News10NBC viewer Jeremy Tuke bought at a substantial discount are likely fake. He found an ad on Facebook for a site selling 100 stamps for $39. The regular price is $58.

"It sounded too good to be true,” Tuke said. “But I had old stamps that were owned at a lower cost before the rates had gone up and I thought, well, why not?”

After all, the website looked real, I found other sites just like that one selling stamps at deep discounts. They are and All have the official USPS logo at the top of the page and are selling a roll of 100 stamps for $39.

Tuke saw the first in my series of alerts about counterfeit stamps, and he knew he’d been duped.

Then the stamps showed up in the mail, and they look real until you put them under ultraviolet light. The real stamps were tagged with ink that has a neon glow under the UV light. But the fake ones did not. It’s the way stamp collectors verify the real from the fakes.

Without the UV light, the fake and the real ones look almost alike. Both had part or all of five red and white stripes, the year 2017 on the bottom left-hand corner and in tiny font, the initials, USPS, in the upper right-hand corner. The only difference is that the real one has all or part of 19 stars and the fake one has 18.

"Us standard citizens don’t have the ability to really verify that, and we think it’s incumbent on the post office to ferret out and prosecute swiftly the people that are responsible for this,” Tuke said.

While there’s little doubt that the fake stamps Tuke unwittingly bought were made in China, they were shipped to him from an address right here in New York State. That’s the next step in my investigation. If you use fake stamps, there’s a good chance your mail will come back to you. So we all lose money when fake stamps flood the market, the consumer and the U.S. Postal Service. The postal inspector in Buffalo says the inspection service is cracking down on the counterfeits coming into the country, but it certainly looks like they have their work cut out for them.

The inspector suggests you click here if you want to buy stamps online.

Postal customers should contact the United States Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 or at if they believe they have been victims of a postal-related crime.