US Stamps

Counterfeit U.S. 2010 Love stamp is a first: it’s too big

Sep 8, 2023, 9 AM

By Charles Snee

For the first time in the ever-expanding universe of modern United States counterfeit stamps, a bogus issue has come to light that is much larger than its genuine counterpart.

In early August, counterfeit specialist Darrell Ertzberger contacted Linn’s Stamp News to report his discovery of fake panes of 20 of the 2010 44¢ Love stamp (Scott 4450).

“Okay, here’s a weird one,” Ertzberger wrote in an Aug. 2 email to Linn’s. “[The counterfeiters] made their product too large.”

Ertzberger was also puzzled by the fact that the counterfeiters chose to mimic a stamp issued 13 years ago that no longer satisfies any exact postage rate.

He purchased five counterfeit 44¢ Love panes from a website that no longer exists. “I have seen them offered in other ‘postage’ ads through Facebook,” he said.

“I opened the package and saw these and did a double-take,” Ertzberger said. “I thought they were wrong — too big for a Love stamp of that time period.”

According to Ertzberger, the fake 44¢ Love panes “came with fakes of the 2023 Standing Bear [pane (Scott 5798)] and the 2015 Charlie Brown Christmas booklet [5030b],” which were the correct size.

Ertzberger said the minimum purchase was five panes and that the sellers normally offer bogus stamps in groups of 100.

In response to additional questions from Linn’s, Ertzberger confirmed that the counterfeit panes are tagged.

The tagging is a pale green, and the paper appears reddish pink under shortwave ultraviolet light, “as do almost all the counterfeits coming out of China,” Ertzberger said.

A counterfeit 44¢ Love pane, which a Linn’s editor obtained from Ertzberger at the Aug. 10-13 Great American Stamp Show, is illustrated here.

Linn’s compared a counterfeit pane to a genuine pane (also obtained at the Great American Stamp Show) and confirmed Ertzberger’s observations about the tagging and paper when viewed under UV light.

Linn’s then compared the counterfeit 44¢ Love stamps to the technical details for the genuine issue published in the March 11, 2010, issue of the Postal Bulletin.

A counterfeit pane measures approximately 7.5 inches by 8 inches, compared to 5.75 inches by 6.125 inches for a genuine pane.

A single stamp from a counterfeit pane measures about 1.6 inches by 1.25 inches, whereas a genuine stamp measures 1.19 inches by 0.91 inches.

Pictured here is a genuine 44¢ Love pane of 20 superimposed at lower right over a counterfeit pane. This makes it easier to see how much larger a fake pane is compared to a genuine one.

During the past few years, the number of U.S. stamps being counterfeited has exploded. Almost without exception, the quality of these fake stamps is remarkably close to the real thing.

The counterfeiters have solved the challenges associated with printing stamps: paper, ink and printing quality, die-cutting and, most recently, tagging.

Collectors can still spot the bogus issues, but the typical purchaser of stamps cannot. And that might explain why counterfeiters aren’t concerned about producing a larger version of a genuine issue.

Counterfeit stamps are widely available on the internet at substantial discounts (often up to 50 percent) below face value.

In many cases, the ads feature the U.S. Postal Service’s familiar eagle logo to make it look like the stamps being sold are products of the nation’s postal service.

Beginning in 2021, the number of counterfeit issues began to accelerate. Because of this unfortunate development, the Scott editors decided to stop listing counterfeit forever and nondenominated postcard-rate stamps issued from 2007 to date in the Postal Counterfeits section of the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

Complete listings of all U.S. counterfeits are now provided in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Counterfeits, which was published for the first time in 2022 and is available from the Amos Advantage website.

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