Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Counterfeit Postage Stamps - DICUSPS SCAM!

I must be losing my touch not to see this as a scam right away.

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad online from the postal service (or so I thought) offering a "sale" on "forever" postage stamps for as much as half off!  It looked so legit at first glance that I bookmarked the link and e-mailed it to myself.

Weeks later cleaning out my inbox, I clicked on the link and got a warning that it was an unsecured site and not USPS.COM but something called "DICUSPS" which made me re-think this whole thing.

What was I thinking?  Responding to an internet ad - mistake number one!  No bargains are going to appear on Internet ads.  They are either outright scams, or they are "targeted ads" that are based on keywords you typed or even spoke.  They know you are thinking about buying a new orbital sander, so they show you ads for orbital sanders (none of them are particular bargains).

And yes, having said that, I will see, shortly, in the coming days, an ad for an orbital sander, on my computer or my phone.

The second mistake was disengaging my brain.  What was I thinking?  Why on earth would the post office have a sale on stamps - and not only that, for half off!  They would be insane to do this, particularly for "forever" stamps.  You could buy thousands of dollars of them and have a 100% gain right away, and an increased gain, over the years, as the postage rates went up.  It would be better than a government bond!  And yea, if you had a store, you could sell them - they would be snapped up by every independent postal service center in the country.

And the answer is, of course, the post office isn't selling stamps on-sale and certainly not for half-off.  You might get a few cents off, buying stamps at a "big box" store where they have an agreement with the USPS to buy stamps at a slight discount.  But half-off?  Get real!

So what are these DICUSPS people selling?  Counterfeit Stamps.   It is genius if you think about it - criminal genius.  Stamps are not very ornate or difficult to counterfeit.  For a while, the USPS was even allowing you to make your own stamps online, with your own images on them.   Sort of ripe for counterfeiting, if you ask me.

Look at a stamp sometime (yea, I know, no one uses stamps anymore!).  I bought a roll last year and it likely will be the last roll of stamps I ever buy.   No one mails anything anymore, other than packages, it seems.  Maybe a post card, maybe a holiday card.  Not much else.  But if you look at a typical "forever" stamp, it is not hard to copy.  It is just a printed image of an American flag that could be easily reproduced in a foreign print shop.

Of course, it is the end user who would get in trouble for using the stamp - if they bought these online.  Although one wonders how hard it would be to get caught.  Does the USPS have scanning equipment that can detect counterfeit stamps?  These are questions I cannot answer.

But it made me a little nervous that I didn't see this as a scam right away.  I bookmarked it for later investigation, but I should have just seen it as the scam it was, right away.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably always is!