The Charity Commission has today issued an alert warning charities which fundraise by selling postal stamps that they may be unknowingly enabling fraud.
According to the alert, “stamp fraud involves the preparation, distribution and sale of previously used stamps for reuse. Usually these stamps are sold online, at a lower price that the standard postal service rate”.
The Commission said “a number of charities collect used stamps as a means of fundraising” and, while these organisations may not be “knowingly profiting from the collection and sale of used stamps", some are “inadvertently enabling this form of fraud by selling packages of used stamps, commonly referred to as ‘kiloware’.”
The regulator has warned charities that do sell stamps for fundraising purposes to “avoid engaging in this activity unless they are certain that the stamps collected and sold are genuinely being bought by collectors, and are not being used for fraudulent purposes”.
Postal stamp fraud ‘warning signs’
The alert includes a “warning signs” checklist for charity fundraisers to be aware of when selling stamps on to collectors.
Fundraisers have been warned to be wary of any “requests to bulk buy” stamps; collectors who request “certain types of stamps” such as those that don’t display a price or Christmas stamps; or those who offer to “deal stamps” on the charity’s behalf.
The Commission advised charities to “decline requests from individuals or groups who wish to purchase used GB stamps from you directly”; to “check the kind of stamps” organisations are collecting to sell; check whether or not a charity’s name is being used in “kiloware advertising” without permission and to buy all stamps for the charity’s own use at the Post Office.
Many household name charities including Macmillan Cancer Care, RNIB and Dogs Trust currently urge people to donate used stamps.