This ad will be closed automatically in X seconds.

China blamed for fake stamps

Row rumbles on as Telegraph identifies communist country’s ‘act of economic warfare’


The fake stamps row is rumbling on with a newspaper investigation identifying four Chinese suppliers offering to print up to a million counterfeit Royal Mail stamps a week.

The Telegraph reported that sources close to Royal Mail claim forgeries from the communist country are behind the rise in complaints of letters sent with the new supposedly more secure barcoded stamps bought from legitimate stores were being flagged as fraudulent.

Above: RM’s David Gold told the BBC he can’t spot fake stamps
Above: RM’s David Gold told the BBC he can’t spot fake stamps

Security experts and MPs described the mass forgery as an “act of economic warfare” and akin to “printing counterfeit money” with the newspaper saying the convincing fakes are being bought unwittingly by small retailers, who are not required to buy stamps directly from Royal Mail and can instead source them from wholesalers in bulk – but postmasters say stamps they have bought direct have also been marked as fake when used on letters, so there could be a problem with the scanning system.

The article follows the delivery service launching an investigation after many recipients complained they had been wrongly charged £5 to collect letters held back because Royal Mail has identified the stamps as fake even though they were bought from post offices.

Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake told the Telegraph he expects the delivery giant to investigate how the counterfeits have entered the supply chain but Royal Mail insists its systems are not faulty so any stamps flagged are likely to be fakes from China.

David Gold, RM’s director of external affairs and policy, appeared on BBC One’s Watchdog programme where he said: “The reality is counterfeiters are now so good at what they do that even I – and I work for Royal Mail – can’t tell the difference just by looking at them.”

Above: China is blamed as the source of the fake stamps
Above: China is blamed as the source of the fake stamps

Official stamps have been printed by the same family business in Wolverhampton for over a decade, and barcodes were introduced in 2022 to cut forgeries that cost the postal service £millions each year.

With the barcodes scanned when mail arrives at sorting offices, stamp fraud is understood to have fallen by 90% since, but the Telegraph investigation identified four major Chinese suppliers currently offering to print up to one million counterfeit Royal Mail stamps a week for as little as 4p each – and deliver them to Britain within days.

They’re also being sold through online retail giants such as Amazon and eBay and on websites that mimic the official Royal Mail store, with the company saying it had removed more than 300 suspicious listings in the past year.

The postal service said it believes sheets of genuine stamps, which can only be bought and sold in Britain, are sent to China where they are copied repeatedly to produce counterfeits in vast quantities.

The paper identified one Shanghai-based supplier as listing barcoded stamps featuring King Charles, first released last March, as well as older version showing the late Queen Elizabeth. The minimum order is 20,000 stamps at 15p ($0.20) each, while orders above 300,000 slash the price to just 4p ($0.05) each.

The 2 April increase in stamp prices is the seventh since March 2019, more than doubling the cost of first-class postage from 67p to £1.35, while second class is now 85p.

Above & top: Barcodes were introduced in 2022 had have cut fraud by 90%
Above & top: Barcodes were introduced in 2022 had have cut fraud by 90%

Andy Furey, of the Communication Workers’ Union, told the Telegraph postal workers have experienced a rise in aggression after the fake stamp penalty was increased from £2.50 to £5 is October.

He said: “This appears to be a scam on quite an unprecedented scale and it’s not good for postal workers who are knocking on people’s doors saying ‘we are going to surcharge you because this stamp is counterfeit’.

“Royal Mail has an obligation not to penalise the customer and to stop it at source and get it sorted rather than pass the burden of the blame to the customer.”

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We are working hard to remove counterfeit stamps from circulation. We regularly monitor online marketplaces to detect suspicious activity, such as sales of heavily discounted stamps, and work closely with retailers and law enforcement agencies to identify those who produce counterfeit stamps.

“We work closely with a number of police forces across the country to apprehend offenders and search premises. In recent cases we have recovered stamps with a retail value of over £250,000.”

GCA RM Sale Feature Image
GCA reacts to protect industry interests as RM board ‘minded’ to accept new offer...
Gift Awards Feature Image
Outstanding Achievement for Hannah Dale and Rosie Made A Thing scores hat trick...
GCA agm rm Feature Image
Early bird tickets still available as Royal Mail boss announced for conference slot...
Bubblegum stuff Feature Image
The Apprentice finalist debuts fresh card collaboration at greeting card trade show...
Retas finalists 2 Feature Image
Retas’ awards finalists are springing about at news of being finalists...
International publisher takes on Linnapaperi, and hands over £60k charity donation...
Get the latest news sent to your inbox
Subscribe to our daily newsletter

The list doesn't exist! Make sure you have imported the list on the 'Manage List Forms' page.