Postal Inspectors Lick Counterfeit Stamp Ring

By Joseph Rhee

Feb 28, 2007 10:23am

Authorities say they have shut down an underground printing operation in New York City that was producing thousands of high-quality counterfeit U.S. postage stamps.  The U.S. Postal Inspection Service says such operations are just a small part of a thriving black market in bogus stamps. The busted printing operation was being run out of an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Check out the excellent quality of the bogus stamps.
A raid on the facility, executed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the New York City Police Department, uncovered hundreds of coils and sheets of 39 cent self-adhesive "Lady Liberty Flag" stamps, authorities said.  Investigators say they also found USPS wrappers complete with barcodes, computer software, industrial-sized cutting boards, three industrial printers and other professional printing supplies. Authorities arrested and charged two individuals, Hector Silvestre and Magaly Pichado, with felony counts of forgery of a government instrument and possession of a forgery device. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos Nigerian Scammers at Work Blotter Black Money: The Latest Twist in the Billion-Dollar Nigerian Scam Racket Blotter Phony Lottery Scams Hit Hundreds of Thousands in U.S. Click Here to Check Out the Latest Brian Ross Slideshows Authorities say the quality of the counterfeit stamps was excellent and that they were destined to be sold at cut rates on the Internet or at small grocery stores in New York.  According to investigators, Silvestre stated in a post-arrest interview that he had been able to produce up to 150 coils of 39 cent stamps a day, with 100 stamps in a coil. Silvestre also stated he was in the process of expanding his operation so that it could run 24/7 and produce over 300 coils a day, investigators said. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Tom Boyle, Assistant Inspector in Charge of the New York office of the USPIS, said the investigation into counterfeit stamps was triggered after postal inspectors discovered that hundreds of letters were being rejected for delivery because the stamps lacked the required phosphor tagging.  Boyle said the investigation has revealed that counterfeit stamps "are a growing, nationwide problem."  The financial loss to the USPS due to the New York operation was estimated at $300,000.

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