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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

June 2007





ebay forgery ring smashed



A dangerous ring of ten ebay "handles" selling forged Australian, New Zealand and New Guinea stamps and cancels was uncovered and dismantled in April.

The ten ebay "handles" appeared to be inter-connected and were selling bogus material to unsuspecting stamp buyers on the large ebay website. 

These unsuspecting buyers were paying many $100s for stamps that would not be saleable for even 10% of that sum to real dealers. 

Much of the detective work involved in un-ravelling this dangerous ring was un-covered by members on a new postage stamp Bulletin Board -

Members of reported suspicious sellers, and many offered links to other sellers who were offering the same material. The pattern slowly emerged.

In several cases it was shown these ebay "handles" were bidding up each other's material.  This is known in the ebay world as "shill" bidding.  It is outlawed, but ebay does not seem to take action or be bothered, unless alerted to it rather forcibly.


 ebay Fake

A detailed discussion of the gang and the forgeries is outlined on the stampboard website -
Readers of this article that have purchased Australasian stamps off ebay in the past months from any of these following ten sellers would almost certainly have purchased forged material:



  Rogue's Gallery


The ten faker ebay IDs were - aw1940, aussiestampsales, nswstamps, modlink2002, stampbuyers, indepbrokers, george0mighty, wynstoninvest, gregbear_61 and bexapunk101

The last seller in this list "bexapunk101" for some reason ebay overlooked banning, and the web link above contains evidence of the fakes and shill bidding associated with this account.

If anyone reading this is an  ebay member they may care to re-report this seller.

Stamp dealer body APTA also got involved, and I am told have senior stamp collector contacts who work in the NSW Police, who also are placing colleagues on this fellow's tail.

I am aware of one NSW APTA member reporting this matter direct to a senior member of NSW Police as a matter of fraud.

APTA members internationally have been briefed on the perpetrator and his many fake ebay "handles", and none of them will likely be conned into buying any of them, as they are now fully aware of what is out there.

I kept APTA President Michael Eastick fully informed on new developments, and fellow columnist Simon Dunkerley was active in adding pieces to the jigsaw puzzle of this mass of inter-connected seller names.

ebay moved, and de-registered these accounts in April, based on dealer and stampboard member complaints.

The seller's oxygen is then starved.  No outlets = no reason to keep offering the dud stamps, as he will get lumbered yet again.

A job well done by all involved I'd say, and a large pat of the back to all concerned. 
A hundred sets of vigilant eyes are now watching ebay for his possible re-appearance with new fake handles.
One Person?




In my view, these were all the one person at work behind these ebay "handles".  This person has a criminal record, and has served long jail sentences for other offences.

This person is a fully trained and qualified medico, and one wonders what drives someone that smart into this kind of petty fraud.

He knows enough about stamps to make more money selling legitimate things for the same expenditure of effort, but this all seems to be a giant game to him - "fleece the ebay bunnies".

Most fakes offered were Australian official perfins and overprints, and a small range of fake cancels and overprints were also involved - including a few New Zealand issues.

Some fakes were fairly convincing, and many were quite appalling.  Where some ebay buyers get their brains from, one really wonders.

When one sees total obvious fake rubbish attracting a raft of high bids to $190 for comically bad things like the stamp illustrated nearby it is of concern.

It was pretty clearly fake cancelled only a few days before it was listed, with a cheap rubber stamp pad, and a quite laughable rubber cancel. The jet black ink still looks like it was damp!  


Faked NWPI


The 10/- NWPI under-lying Kangaroo stamp would have been genuine, but probably thinned, toned or heavily hinged.  These stamps are worth a lot more "used" than mint, therefore this con-man glued it to a piece of brown paper and applied the absurd fake cancel.

This turned a $20 retail probably thinned stamp into a $190 "fine used on piece" example.  At least to ebay buyers it did.

To the buyers of $10,000s of forged junk from this crook .....  kiss your money goodbye is my guess.
 Seek Advice

Next time you plan to spend $600 apiece on fake stamps on ebay as some of these folks did, please check them out first with a REAL dealer for a once over and advice, before you get possibly conned.
Or visit a site like and post the images of what you plan to buy - and first seek input from experts.

An established dealer will be in business next week, next month, next year - and usually next decade if you end up with something you might want a refund on.

As we can all see, these ebay cons are always out of business sooner rather than later, (often a day after the sale closes!) and your only recourse is to whistle in the wind for your $600 refund.

ebay absolutely do not want to know, and even PayPal do not want to know it seems. 
ebay and PayPal make money EVERY time a sale occurs. Whether it is a fake stamp or not is apparently not of any interest to them at the end of the day.
Unless a watertight case is laid out in front of them, nothing generally occurs.
That dodgy seller joanne620 continues to sell over-described junk at will, despite endless complaints to ebay - from ebay users and the stamp trade.
On May 10 the usual gaggle of ill-informed ebay nuts bid up a yellowed gum, almost certainly forged pair of 1937 robes "Specimen" overprints to $775 from "joanne620".   No warranty and dodgy photos, yet they are paying $775 for a set I would offer them just $50 for tomorrow. Terrifying.  
This hurts all dealers and genuine collectors as when these folks finally get the bad news broken to them they have been ripped off, they often leave stamp collecting forever.

One member of who bought forgeries from one of these now banned handles, applied to get an refund as he paid via PayPal.

After taking an eternity completing PayPal on-line forms and paperwork, and obtaining expert opinions to add to them that the stamps were fake, he got told there was a $25 "administrative" fee from any refund they might approve.

So much for the "pay with PayPal and you'll always be safe" mantra that ebay continually espouses. (ebay own PayPal of course!)  Even buying outright proven fakes you will not get all your money back.



   Hall Of Shame


One very useful resource for checking up on ebay stamp con-men is who has a "Hall Of Shame. This is a US based ebay watchdog since 2002, that was alerted by to all the banned sellers above.  joanne620" is also listed. (The only Australian active ebay seller to be named.)


 Sold for $56



As I typed this article May 12, the stampboards folks pointed out another ridiculous item being offered on ebay closing that day - lot 270116543182

It was a crude reprint of the 1919 Ross Smith Vignette sheet that was offered as: "A STAMP USED FOR MAIL ON THE FIRST FLIGHT FROM ENGLAND TO AUSTRALIA"

It is of course the common 1980s reprint that "Stamp News" gives away free to subscribers.  In fact the one offered was one of the more appalling standard reprints .. some of them were of a far higher quality.

When the item reached the silly price of $8.90 a member of stampboards emailed the seller pointing him to the board discussion, and asking if he knew these were a reprint.

The seller said he did!  Seller did not alter the misleading description even after being advised it was a reprint.

THEN the bidding increased with this near worthless item eventually selling for $A56.76.  That bid was underpinned by one from "pockers41" who bid the sheet up from the $8.80 bid.

The seller has the ebay handle of "johnlovesterri" based in Western Australia.  ebay lot number was 270116543182

I do hope they see this article!  The editor will mail the under-bidder 5 free copies of this "rare" sheet if he contacts him with proof of ID. 

Maybe he/she will then subscribe and learn something about stamp collecting!



 Ross Smith Vignette


For the benefit of these who do NOT want to pay good money for reprints, here is a summary of the REAL item!

The high priced "Local" item most collectors think of immediately is the 1920 Ross Smith 'Vignette'.  This is more a semi-official issue than a "Local" or "Cinderella". 
It was ordered by the Prime Minister's Department (by no less than PM "Billy" Hughes!) via Treasury, and printed by the Note Printing Branch on watermarked paper - the same wide crown watermark as we find on 1914 KGV heads, or "Second" watermark Kangaroos.

For the dozen hopeful folks who ask me each year if their 'rare' vignette is really valuable ....... just hold it up to the light. If there is NO watermark you have one of the many types of near worthless reprints done over the years. 
Some are very crude like the rubbish sold on ebay above, and some were far better productions of quite fair standard.

Some are so roughly printed virtually none of the perf holes are punched out - like the one shown nearby. 
In ALL cases, the colour is quite wrong, not being the deep steel blue of the genuine as you can see in the photo nearby.




The REAL McCoy!




So, it is not a "Local" or a 'Cinderella" strictly speaking, but in my view is an officially printed label and should be more correctly termed a "semi-official" production. All the same a lot still exist as mint or used stamps, or on cover.

A fine MUH sheetlet sells for about $A20,000 and a really superb cover was auctioned in recent times in the region of $A50,000.

There are still quite a number of these existing, either as mint sheetlets as illustrated nearby, or on covers.

Dealer Simon Dunkerley once told me when he was working at an auction house lotting up the Sir Hudson Fysh collection, he recalls there were at least a dozen flown covers bearing this 1920 'stamp' carelessly dispersed among it.
Many large dealers agree the present price of this Ross Smith vignette is highly over-inflated.  However it always sells strongly, especially in Europe.


Stamp Bulletin Board



Mentioned above is a new stamp bulletin board -

Readers may care to take a moment to look in, and then hopefully join, the fastest growing Bulletin Board on the internet. All totally FREE of course.

The first ever true stamp collecting related Bulletin Board anywhere - it already has 10,000 different posts and hundreds of registered members - yet it only commenced April 1 this year.

Several prominent dealers are very active among them including Simon Dunkerley, Kevin Morgan, Warwick Delamore, John Pearson, David Wood (PPA), Glen Stephens and

Even if you have never seen or used a Bulletin Board or chat board before they are a cinch - if you can 2 finger type, you are set!

Take a quick look - it is all very easy to follow and add to -

Every post and stamp photo is visible and searchable forever - whatever input and help or info or material you add now, will be seen by collectors and dealers for decades.

This board is likely to become one of the most used and indexed stamp resources anywhere.

Someone, somewhere needed to have this idea, and the broad Bulletin Board experience to get this moving - and that person was me it seems!

I have 40,000 personal travel board posts, and always wondered why the Stamp Community did not have just a board.

It benefits all in this hobby worldwide ..... dealers, collectors, and clubs - and I was simply the catalyst to get it moving along.



Global Support
There are already very active members from all over the globe - in Asia, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  From Newfoundland to Tasmania - with the great bulk of the members being based in Australasia.
A very busy stampboard is up and running in just two short months of existence, with about 10,000 member posts made already as you can see - posting on everything you can possibly imagine related to stamp collecting.
There are forums for - Cinderellas and Revenues, New Issues, errors, ebay, numismatics, Rarities, coming auctions, "Stamps Wanted", Club News,  Reference Books, "Exchange Partners" etc.


 New Discovery?
Members helped identify an apparently unknown Australian "Pamaba" Cinderella recently - illustrated nearby.  Full details on the board.
Type into Google the words "Stamp Bulletin Board" or "Postage Stamp Chat"  etc, and you can see the word is already out on this new venture.  We are the number one Google match worldwide.
The Bulletin Board software allows actual stamp photos to be posted up quickly and FREE from your own computer, so if you are selling, buying, or wanting ID help on anything, this is the place to load your stamps or numismatic photos.
There are many hundreds of stamp photos posted up large in full colour to comment on, or to learn from.
The ebay forger summarised above was uncovered by the board posting up large images of his fakes.  Often of the same stamps before and AFTER he faked them!
If dealers have an auction or special sale schedules - by all means post the details.  If you are attending or running any stamp shows - add the details and dates and cost there.  If you distribute a new catalogue of anything or handbook - add the details and photos.  All free.


FREE for Clubs/Societies
For all members of stamp clubs and societies there is a board where you can add all the details of what you are doing, location, dates and times of meeting, annual dues etc. You can even load each stamp club/society journal up FREE.
If your Club or Society is NOT listed already - please bring this Bulletin Board to the attention of your Hon. Secretary or President.  Listing all your club details to a world audience clearly makes it stronger - at no cost.
Clubs and collectors and dealers can load color photos of anything they wish. 
We have light hearted time wasting threads, jokes threads and cartoons, and a few silly things like this one - which also shows how quickly photos can be loaded up -
All members can have colour stamp "avatars" totally of their choice, and all members achieve fun "Star" ratings based on their posting history.
Stampboards even has a numismatic Forum where new product can be posted and illustrated and discussed if you wish.
There is a team of 12 volunteer Moderators on hand to remove any spam the moment it appears.  There are NO pop-ups,  NO annoying ads of any kind, NO banners and NO spyware.
A lot of collectors and dealers are new to Bulletin Boards and we have set up a lot of  easy to follow "How To" help threads to address commonly asked questions - is not any a threat to any magazine - indeed "Stamp News" publisher Kevin Morgan is one of our most active posters and supporters.  (Editor's note - I was just about to start such a board when I saw Glen had done so!)
The internet is "immediate" - something no monthly magazine can ever be.  If you are really moving with the times, do taken a moment to check out today!









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Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for over 25 years.

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Time and Temp in Sunny Sydney!



Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for over 25 years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association.  (New York) 
Also Member - Philatelic Traders' Society.  (London)  ANDA. (Melbourne)  American Philatelic Society, etc

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