US Stamps

APS demands removal of Facebook ad for counterfeit stamps featuring English, Martin

Sep 29, 2023, 10 AM
This Flowers Postage Stamps ad on Facebook for counterfeit United States stamps, shown cropped, features a photo taken at the Aug. 10 first-day ceremony for the Life Magnified stamps.

By Charles Snee

The American Philatelic Society has sent a letter to Meta, the parent company of Facebook, demanding that it take down an ad on Facebook for counterfeit United States stamps featuring a photo of APS executive director Scott English and Ken Martin, director of expertizing for the APS. The photo was taken during the Aug. 10 first-day ceremony for the United States Life Magnified stamps in Cleveland.

Martin and English are standing at left, with English closest to the large mock-up of a Life Magnified pane of 20.

Linn’s Stamp News first saw the Flowers Postage Stamps ad in a Sept. 12 post on Facebook by Wayne Youngblood, who writes The Odd Lot column for Linn’s.

Youngblood’s comment about the ad in his post expressed surprise: “Wow! One of the stamp counterfeiting sites is even using an image of the APS Executive Director Scott English and Director Expertizing Ken Martin in its ads for fake stamps!!”

A Linn’s editor captured a screenshot of Youngblood’s comment and the Flowers Postage Stamps ad and sent a copy of it to English on Sept. 13. A cropped version of the ad with the photo of English and Martin is shown here.

“Does the APS plan to contact Meta/Facebook about the ‘Flowers Postage Stamps’ page that is using the image of you and Ken Martin and others at the first-day ceremony for the Life Magnified stamps at [Great American Stamp Show]?” Linn’s asked English.

English replied that he had not seen the ad and would have to investigate.

Ten days later, on Sept. 22, English sent a letter to John Hegeman, vice president and head of monetization for Meta, demanding that the Flowers Postage Stamps ad be removed.

“We did not permit Flowers Postage Stamps to use our likenesses in its advertising and demand Meta remove its use and punish this user under its guidelines,” English wrote.

“The actual harm in using our likenesses is that Flowers Postage Stamps is advertising counterfeit U.S. stamps and using Facebook to promote this illicit trade,” English continued. “Flowers Postage Stamps is just one example of a myriad of fly-by-night businesses using Meta platforms to advertise the sale of counterfeit U.S. stamps under the guise of substantially discounted postage.”

In this context, “substantially discounted postage” primarily means forever stamps that are being sold at well below their current face value, which is 66¢.

English correctly points out that the typical postal customer can’t tell genuine stamps from their fake counterparts “without training and special equipment,” such as an ultraviolet lamp that is used to detect the presence of tagging on a stamp.

English commented that the U.S. Postal Service is stepping up its efforts to seize counterfeit stamps and that “eCommerce platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram [also owned by Meta], can make a significant difference in the proliferation of [counterfeit] stamps into to the marketplace.”

But any difference will only come about with decisive leadership, according to English.

“We urge Meta to lead by example and aggressively combat counterfeit U.S. postage sold through paid advertising on your platforms,” English wrote. “The American Philatelic Society can and will work with you or any other eCommerce platform to better serve the marketplace.”

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