US Stamps

Internet scammers target two stamp groups; one suffers loss

Jun 10, 2019, 8 AM

By Linn’s Staff

At least two prominent philatelic organizations were targeted recently by someone trying to steal money from the group through a fraud scheme.

One attempt was partially successful, but the second failed because the fraudsters used outdated information to create a fake identity.

There is concern, however, that other stamp hobby groups are at risk of being targeted by similar theft efforts.

The United States Stamp Society was the victim of an internet scam that netted more than $49,000, the group’s president, Nicholas Lombardi, confirmed to Linn’s Stamp News.

The loss was revealed to society members attending the group’s annual meeting at the 2019 Westpex show late in April, and it was reported to the full membership in the June issue of the society’s monthly journal, The United States Specialist.

Describing USSS activities at the Westpex show, Lombardi wrote in the journal, “The members were also informed that the Society had suffered a $49,000 loss due to an internet phishing scam. The loss, though unfortunate, represented less than 10 percent of our 2017 year-end financial assets. Since then steps have been taken to prevent this from happening in the future.”

The term “phishing” is commonly used to describe criminal deception online to obtain passwords or sensitive information that can be used to steal personal information, access to financial accounts or other valuable data.

In both instances, the scam was initiated by email, with a request for a funds transfer that appeared to be from one society officer to another.

In the case of the United States Stamp Society, the requests seemed legitimate but unfortunately were actually a targeted deception by someone who faked the identity of the purported sender of the email.

This type of fraud opportunity can develop out of details available to the public on websites, in publications and other documents.

The names, titles and email addresses of principal society officers are often posted on websites and otherwise made public so that society members can easily reach out to the group’s leaders. But that also opens a door for those involved in crafting the online scam.

American First Day Cover Society president Lloyd de Vries, who writes a monthly column for Linn’s Stamp News, said his organization has also been targeted.

De Vries reported receiving an email purportedly from “AFDCS President Chris Lazaroff” seeking to have money transferred to “Veterans in Hospice Care.”

“The physical address for Chris in his e-mail hasn’t been valid for years,” de Vries told Linn’s, “he hasn’t been AFDCS president for nine years (I am, of course), and the underlying e-mail address (that is, hidden under the name that showed) wasn’t Chris’ but something else. I did not reply, warned the rest of the Executive Committee of the attempt, and that was it.”

The AFDCS suffered no loss in the scam attempt.

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