Paid Advertisement featuring APS Officials Promotes Counterfeit Stamps
APS Executive Director Scott English sent a letter to John Hegeman, Vice President and Head of Monetization for Meta, demanding it take down a paid advertisement featuring English and Ken Martin, Director of Expertizing. Meta is the parent company for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Threads. The ad, sponsored by Flowers Postage Stamps, a website promoting the sale of counterfeit stamps, featured English and Martin from a first day of issue ceremony for the Life Magnified Forever stamps held at the Great American Stamp in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The user likely knew that images of Ken and me would lend credibility to the sale of these counterfeit stamps,” said Scott English, “Meta not only needs to take this advertisement down, but it should lead the way in stopping the proliferation of advertising on its sites.”
The U.S. Postal Service has worked to slow the flow of counterfeit postage stamps into the marketplace, estimating a 50 percent reduction in stamps making it to the market. In fiscal year 2022, the USPS announced it had seized $7.8 billion in counterfeit postage, which still means a large volume of fake postage is still getting into the hands of unsuspecting consumers.
As noted in the letter,
The average consumer cannot differentiate between genuine and counterfeit modern U.S. postage without training and special equipment. Instead, they hope and trust that platforms like Facebook or Instagram properly vet their advertisers to protect the consumer. Unfortunately, you do not, and we all suffer as a consequence.
Counterfeiters are more sophisticated now than ever, making detection difficult even for experienced collectors.
The surest way for consumers to buy genuine U.S. postage stamps is directly from the U.S.P.S., either at a local post office, online at usps.com, or at an authorized reseller.
The APS received the alert from Wayne Youngblood, who has done exhaustive work on counterfeit U.S. postage. See Wayne share information on Conversations with Philatelists, Part 1 (Debunking Online Stamp Scams) and Part 2 (Detecting Counterfeit USPS Forever Stamps).