China Accused of Flooding United Kingdom With Counterfeit Postage Stamps

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: A sheet of the new first class stamps featuring a likeness
Getty Images

British authorities have accused China of attempting to flood the country with fake postage stamps, a form of industrial sabotage and “economic warfare” often associated with the days of the Second World War.

A sudden rise in detected forgeries of postage stamps in the United Kingdom — and complaints from unsuspecting customers being charged £5 to receive a letter posted with a fake — has been traced to Chinese companies offering to print a million stamps a week for just pennies apiece.

In the United Kingdom stamps can be bought through the Post Office or other retailers, and it is claimed the forgeries are being supplied to small shops by wholesalers who then sell them on to customers, honestly or dishonestly. The scandal of fake stamps comes just two years after the Royal Mail introduced QR-code type tracking data on stamps to fight counterfeits, and it may be this new system that has made the otherwise perfectly printed fakes detectable.

A spokesman of the Communication Workers Union accused the Royal Mail of “inertia” and said they were punishing the recipients of fraud stamps rather than trying to stop the stamps from getting into the system in the first place. He said per The Telegraph: “This appears to be a scam on quite an unprecedented scale… 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.

“There is a sense of inertia about this from Royal Mail. I wonder if they are in denial about the scale of this [scam] and they are hoping it goes away.”

Royal Mail, meanwhile, has blamed the hapless UK Border Force — which has been at the heart of the failure to wrest some control over the nation’s borders — for being responsible for the flood of stamps, arguing it is their job to intercept contraband.

Alan Mendoza of the Henry Jackson Society said that the mass printing of fake stamps would be happening with, at least, the tacit approval of the Chinese Communist Party. As such, he said, the stamps are “an obvious form of economic warfare and should be called out for what it is with economic repercussions for China if it does not rein it in”.

A Chinese government figure dismissed the claims it was involved in any way as “baseless” and “low-level”.

The flood of fake stamps is reminiscent of economic warfare of earlier ages, as in the Second World War, when Britain and Germany printed huge amounts of currency to undermine each others’ economies and sow mistrust. Britain and the United States even printed fake German stamps during the Second World War, using them to post propaganda to German homes. Spies working for Germany were also sometimes unwittingly paid in forged British money.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.