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May 2018


Are your stamps INSURED?



I am always amazed at how many otherwise very savvy collectors mention in conversation they have ZERO formal insurance documents covering their stamps.  Often for 6 figure collections.  The USA seems rather lenient on stamp insurance paperwork.  In Australia Insurance companies are (understandably) very hard-nosed and tough.

I do many Insurance valuations and claims matters every month, and have flown to all states to do this. Not just for insurance, but for divorce, and inheritance and probate matters etc, as outlined here in detail -  These days there is no stamp shop in the entire city of Sydney, so those in country areas have NO hope of a local dealer doing it! 


You MUST get stamps insured.


In Australia, in short - if your stamps are stolen, burnt, water damaged etc, you generally have **ZERO** chance of getting a cent, unless you can furnish insurer with a detailed, dated, and signed assessment. They ask that it be done by a qualified, independent stamp valuer, whom they recognise as such.  A scribbled note from your mate at a stamp club etc, they will simply NOT accept, as many assume AFTER the event will be the case!


Penny Pinching brings $100,000 loss.


One local client had about $100,000 real world value of mainly Kangaroo stamps etc, purchased over the decades, from dealers, fairs, and on-line etc.  He asked me what it would cost for a formal typed valuation, and told him the typical cost was a few $100 to cover my time.  Mr.Genius snorted derisively, said that was far too high, as he had an Excel document listing them all in great detail, along with catalogue values etc, so felt happy his detailed inventory was adequate. 

He was burgled a few months later, and cheerfully emailed his inventory to Insurers after the theft, and they basically laughed, and said he might well have typed that up a few hours back, and paid him zero, and declined the claim entirely.  My Dad used to call that logic "Penny Wise, Pound Foolish" and this fellow's "saving" of a couple $100, for a professional written valuation, cost him $100,000 more or less. The stamps are gone forever.

Anything less than that kind of detailed valuation, all dated and lodged with insurer in advance, being a copy of the original  documentation, and you have no chance in general of being paid out.  Often there is a modest nominal sum covered for ”general household goods” stolen or damaged, but nothing like the full amount of stamp collections.  (Here in Australia anyway, I can't speak for overseas countries.)


Useful for Police & Dealer tracking.


The good thing about a detailed written valuation, is that it can be handed to Police to assist them, and also circulated globally to stamp dealer bodies.  I get regular advices from PTS/ASDA/IFSDA listing stolen material, and stamp dealers are a small group, that communicate very well, and we can often help recover the goods.             



You need to specify cost of ALBUMS.


A common mistake is not to specify the replacement costs of your albums and pages and catalogues etc.  The 4 x “Lighthouse” albums shown nearby I sold to a client with Australia hingeless pages in them.  Cost him $A1,800 alone.  In his case, my written valuation had $42,500 for stamps, and $5,000 to replace the Hagners, albums, slipcases, catalogues and reference books.  Many dealers lazily fail to list those, or to value them.

For all written valuations I do, I mail the client TWO copies on letterhead.  One copy I urge collectors to keep filed safely, the other copy I suggest they mail Registered Post to their insurer to attach to their files.  THEN if your formal valuation dated August 2, 2017 is on their file, and your house is burgled, flooded or burnt down etc in November 2018, and the Police/Fire Department reports confirms that event, they tend to accept that stamp loss as real and legitimate, and they pay up on it pretty fast.

Many large Insurers in Australia have a “new for old” policy when covering household contents. This is terrific news for stamp collectors.  ALL stockbooks and Hagner sheets MUST be replaced every 20 years or so, as they start to age, and that can damage the stamps.  So if you have a claim, all your 20 year old books and sheets are replaced with NEW ones!

One client got ~$50,000 back recently, based solely on my very detailed valuation letter of about a year earlier, which outlined the replacement value of his stamps, hingeless pages, and reference books, and catalogues, and the extensive set of quality albums he had them all stored in.  


Breathless in Tibet!


As you read this I am in Tibet.  Lhasa alone has a higher altitude, at 12,000’, than near all readers have ever experienced, and I visit many far higher altitude cities and places here. Trip Insurance is just a couple $100, and no-one SANE would go on trips to places like this, with no travel insurance - yet the same folks cheerfully often do NOT bother with stamp insurance!


Some serious Tibet altitude here!


The first time I flew into El Alto Airport, in La Paz Bolivia, (the world’s highest - altitude 4,061 metres=13,325’) I felt sure the air was quite “normal”.  Hence I ran around taking photos, and moving heavy luggage, and ignoring all advice to take things SUPER easy for a few days to acclimatise.  (Australia’s highest point Mount Kosciuszko, is about HALF that altitude!) 

Huge mistake of course - went down that night for 3 days, with a raging fever, high temperature “both ends burning” - with vomiting and diarrhoea etc.  Missed all the sightseeing, and also my outward flight, incurring high costs to use alternate means.  Worse still was un-insured for it - so all my own fault!

Clearly, insurance DOES pay.  Being young and foolish, I soon learned that the hard way.  Quite a few popular tourist destinations are high altitude, and most visitors are fine IF you slowly get used to it for few days.  I’ve visited Cuzco in Peru, and Lake Titicaca Bolivia a few times, and the latter is somewhat higher than Lhasa even.

So getting back to the stamp relevance - do not for a moment assume your stamp collection will be paid out by your insurance company in case of theft, or fire or flood etc, if you do not have a DETAILED independent valuation of it lodged with them in advance.  Your own notes and spreadsheets are not of interest to them in my experience.


Under Face Postage Stamps.


Everyone likes to save money on postage costs - human nature!  In Australia, ALL Decimal currency stamps with gum, issued in the past half century+ are fully valid for mailing letters and parcels, both locally and overseas.  If you can buy it for well less than face, you make a very good legal saving.

Most dealers sell it - I offer packs of $500, and $1,000 of mint full gum postage - the latter costs $750, and many small businesses and ebay sellers are pleased to save $250 totally legally.  As I often sell them full runs in PO packs, or blocks 4 etc, the receivers far prefer valuable stamps even when used, over a worthless PO meter imprint.  WIN-WIN all round.


Nicer used on mail than LABELS!


A little bit of juggling and sorting values and fiddling about, but for many it is well worth it, given the huge ongoing savings.  All outlined here -  Certainly EVERY reader should have a stash of valid mint stamps of your own country on hand.  Common courtesy to NOT use worthless labels, or “FOREVER” or “1st” Machins etc.


Buying it via Ebay is Wild West stuff.


So folks who mail a lot, can buy off established stamp dealers, who will be there next month, indeed next year - OR buy from ebay - or Scambay, as it is often referred to lately!  Then you are trading in true Wild West conditions.  Much stolen material, totally forged mint stamps, 100% illegal to use material, or simply non-existent goods very often.



These are not “MINT” stamps, you spiv.


Many spivs soak uncancelled stamps off office kiloware, and have a 10 year old kid glue those now illegal stamps onto 1000 cheap envelopes, and offer them on Ebay as “1000 x $1 stamped envelopes - ready to mail $775”.  The Bunnies crawl all over such “wonder deals”.

I saw this one shown nearby as I was typing this.  A seller called australian_antiques in Adelaide is offering a $500 bunch of re-cycled no gum stamps and calling them “MINT”.   And even more cheekily using Australia Post images from $1 New Issues to do it.  You do NOT get $1 + $2 stamps as shown, but 1,000 x cleanskin 50c!  Look what the wacko Bunnies paid to break the law - - report him.

The same Bunnies do not realise The Crimes Act of Australia offence of re-using stamps, or using cleaned off cancel stamps, falls entirely upon the END USER of the illegal material, NOT the supplier.  Drop your 1,000 envelopes into a red mail box, and you will likely have the Federal Police at your door with a Search Warrant, days later.  Guaranteed. I kid you not - Mail Centre sorting machines are pretty clever now, and prison terms have been

meted out in extreme cases.  Dodgy Brothers venues like ebay and Gumtree are also of course where the folks who STEAL material from Australia Post, dump it onto the clueless.  Hoping no-one notices.  Folks DO notice of course.



Stolen from printer : offered on Scambay


Stampboards this month highlighted some crooks who were listing up $10,000 face of mint $1 peel and stick stamps for $7,000.  Discussion here -  Sounds like a great deal right -  even LPOs pay much more than that for $1 stamps. The ebay sellers noted were ddldr2185 and jessicnas-1 and there were others -

“Hi, I am selling left over office supplies.  I have 10,000 x $1 Auspost stamps, they are brand new still on the roll - face value $10,000 - selling for $7,000.  Need them gone asap, pick up only from Melbourne.  Any reasonable offer will be considered."

Yeah right.  Both these sellers were offering stamps stolen from the stamp printers.  How do we know that?  As these morons used in their ebay descriptions, photos of large uncut wallpaper sized rolls of the $1 stamps!  See them nearby.  Eleven stamps wide, in long rolls of 10,000 units.  Seeing Australia Post only sells them in rolls of 100 or 200, all just 1 stamp wide, these were clearly STOLEN from the printer.


eBay Seller arrested by Police.


What an idiot seller duo - sell stolen stamps, and then add photos of them in a format that CLEARLY has been nicked from the printer.  The stampboards thread updates us that one seller was arrested by Police, and I presume the Bunny Buyers were also getting Federal Police visitors as well - hopefully confiscating their $7,000 “Ebay BAAAHRGIN”.             


You CANNOT buy these from POs!


Natually ebay/Paypal LOVE all this illegal stuff, as they make the same 15% commision on STOLEN stamps, as they do on the legitimate material shown nearby.  Did they cancel either ebay account for selling $10,000s of stamps stolen from the Federal Governent?  Of course not - Scambay would go broke if everyone stuck to offering kosher material. 


More tranches of non existent stuff on Ebay.


On that same tack, mid April saw yet another scammer “treasurycollectors” offering 100s of lots of rare stamps all starting as 99c auctions.  Cool deal right?   Wrong.  Exactly like last month’s $US1 MILLION scam reported in detail here last month, using Stanley Gibbons material -, this spiv also owned NONE of the stamps offered. 

Ebay never learn. is where Stampboards reported this latest scam to the globe once again, and the detective members there quickly deduced most if not all of the images were being lifted off the massive Christoph Gärtner Auctions site in Germany.  Many of the stamps were still on hand there to be sold.



Stolen off the Garnter Auction site.


Then comes the usual farce of getting SCAMBAY to close the auctions.  Endless reports and emails and phone calls, reaching out to usual array of clueless robots who are never empowered to do a thing.  Gartner allocated the task to a staff member for a day or so, who I am sure got many grey hairs in the process.

Ebay have proven in all these recent cases, they really do not want to know, as it is PayPal that is scammed out of the money - and not them.  And for the PayPal trained robots sadly, it is all above their pay scale in Bangladesh or wherever, and they can’t do anything either. So both blame each other, and the auctions plough onwards.


Ebay clearly disinterested in frauds.


Poor old Bernd, the Gartner staffer in Germany who outlined his brick wall battles with these drones on stampboards -  The idiots were making him PROVE beyond doubt that each and EVERY image was stolen, before they would remove each of these non-existent stamps from sale!  And mostly they did not care.

This is the kind of nonsense reason he was given -
"The seller is registered in the US on eBay.  Objectively there are no reasons for deleting the offers.  Also, due to the location of the seller, such an operation is unjustifiable. You can forward offers that you consider ineligible to us via the reporting function on each offer page, and we will then check them for you."

So the Bunnies kept on bidding, and ebay seemed disinterested in doing a thing about it - same as the $US1 Million scam last month - where auctions completed, and ebay/paypal handed over names, addresses, and real emails of the idiot “buyers” to the scammers.
 All like some weird movie, and in the stamp division, it is occuring globally on a large scale now.



The more Fraud reports the better.


Do ebay ever care when the scammers are pointed out to them 100 times globally, and uncovered, and exposed?  Absolutely NOT.  “treasurycollectors” still has an active account on ebay as I type, and can do it all again next week, and next month.  Buyers on Scambay have precious few protections these days against this stuff, as ebay clearly do not care.

Global boards like do assist is focusing attention in one spot on such Frauds and Scams, as clearly eBay themselves do not care.  All they see are $$s in fees being removed from stamp collectors, and do not have the brains to nip these large scale scams in the bud.  REPORT all you see.  A bunch of reports, and a drone SOMEWHERE might awaken from their slumbers.


Mossgreen madness gets to Court.



The long saga surrounding the $12m collapse of mossgreen Auctions in Melbourne keeps dragging on. The winners as always, are Lawyers and Administrators. This week however the greedy blood sucking vultures at BDO Australia were slapped solidly in the face, for one outrageous cash grab attempt.

Administrators BDO had arrogantly and cheekily decided all vendors needed to pay them $353 PER unsold or consigned lot, in order to get their own goods back.  No part returns, no cherry picking.  Pay the Ransom in full, or we treat YOUR property as abandoned goods, and we do what we want with it. 

This insanity largely arose as BDO decided to do a “stocktake” of goods, despite the very detailed mossgreen records that showed who owned what anyway.  With no approval from either creditors or the courts, BDO came up with a padded beyond belief figure of about $1.2 million for this unauthorised “stocktake”, and then demanded everyone else pay for it!

This was despite earlier promising vendors in writing that goods could be collected at no fee from January.  This naked ransom extortion attempt did not go down well, and a number of the vendors contacted the Corporate Regulator ASIC, and BDO were forced to get the Federal Court to approve their Ransom - or not.


Cancer sufferer hit with $104,000 Ransom.


On April 9 in the Federal Court in Sydney, Justice Perram essentially told BDO to go and suck eggs. They never had any authority or approval to conduct their insanely expensive 7 figure “stocktake”, and vendors would not need to pay one cent for it, she ruled, and were to be given their own goods back promptly, at no fee.

National media ran strongly on this result, including large articles in “The Australian” and the ABC National News etc.  Those articles, and Justice Perram’s detailed judgment is outlined on stampboards - and good to see the Federal Court used common sense to put these pirates firmly in their place.

I hope it not only means the entire ~$1.2 Million “stocktake” is now entirely at BDO’s own cost, but hopefully all the legal bills of the many parties who opposed it, will be awarded against them as well, as the ransom demand appears to have had no legal basis at all.

Justice Perram outlined in he summary, instances like Melbourne man Neil Robertson (shown nearby) who he named specifically, whose personal goods were estimated to sell for about $50,000 at mossgreen, yet BDO demanded $104,000 to hand them back.

Robertson is on chemo, suffering from severe cancer, and has only a year or so to live.  600 other vendors were also subject to this same $353 per lot ransom, and many of these briefed legal counsel to vigorously fight this outrageous impost.  BDO, to make their case even weaker, admitted that they had handed back some lots and charged those vendors ZERO ransom! 


BDO Australia loses out BIG time.


"What the administrators are seeking to charge me, the ransom as it were, is considerably more than they estimate the goods being worth,"  Mr. Robertson told the ABC. "It's very hard for me because this is constantly in my mind. I'm not a very angry person, but I must say I've boiled with rage over this on a number of evenings when I've been trying to go to sleep. I don't think it's very good for me."

The former head of Open Gardens Australia, Mr Robertson decided to sell hundreds of antiques through the mossgreen after he was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer, and given a year to live.  He was going to use the money to help fund a move from country Victoria to Melbourne, to be closer to treatment, and to travel in his final months.



“Legal fight not good for my health.”


Corporate thuggery is nothing new, but what BDO Australia deliberately did to Mr. Robertson, and many 100s of others, reached a new low in my eyes, and those of many others.  I can only imagine if this was my father, worrying and fretting about such unfair matters in his very final months of life - I’d be furious with BDO.

WHO would VOLUNTARILY engage any such company in the future here, if our business had issues?  The clearly aggressive and unsympathetic James White and BDO Australia hopefully have received a giant rocket from World HQ about this ongoing fiasco, that one assumes has badly damaged that brand name - and all entirely of their own making.

BDO cheekily APPEALED Justice Perram’s decision, and a Tribunal headed by Federal Court Chief Justice dismissed the appeal mid-April, and ordered them to go back to Justice Perram to sort out the handing back of all owner’s auction goods.  Hopefully leaving BDO out of pocket for the $ million plus “stocktake” the Courts or creditors never approved.  And the 7 figure rents and security and insurance and wages they likewise incurred.  








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