'Modern forgeries and fake overprints from Hialeah/Miami/Sunshine State 
          on eBay' article

"atdinvest" - fake overprints and modern fake blocks and sheets on eBay

Sheryll Oswald

Released:  17 June, 2001         Last updated:   13 November, 2004

An exposé of the activities of the Florida seller "atdinvest", who sold fake overprints and modern fake imperforate and perforated sheets and blocks (known as "Hialeah forgeries") on eBay.

Related articles

eBay - the good, the bad and the downright ugly
Spotted a misdescribed fake on eBay?

Related websites

Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers (SCADS)
eBay - forgeries, fakes, dodgy sellers, scams: the tip of the iceberg (TOTI)
Other websites
Feedback comments

Article subsections

1. Introduction

2. Details of fake overprints, blocks and sheets offered

Fake overprints (mid 2000 - late 2001)

Modern fake blocks and sheets (late 2001 - early 2004)

3. Attempts to sell the forgery business

Equipment used to manufacture the forgeries (Sep 2003 - Apr 2004)

4. Suspension from eBay

5. Resellers of Hialeah forgeries

List of resellers

6. Educating the collecting community

a. Chat forums and specialist discussion groups

b. Philatelic journals and websites

7. Conclusion

References

a. Publications

b. Websites

Recent updates

12 Nov 04

Article discussing these forgeries titled "When is a forgery NOT a forgery?" published in the November issue of the American Philatelist

30 Oct 04

"princesstamps" has not relisted and has put off answering further questions. "unlimitedstamps" now suspended.

22 Jun 04

New seller "princesstamps" has apparently bought the forgery business, and is listing imperforate blocks.

The purpose of this article is:

  • to provide a historical record of the activities of "atdinvest" on eBay
  • to show the basic characteristics of the Hialeah forgeries, which are modern creations and not classical forgeries
  • to list the resellers of Hialeah forgeries
  • to refer collectors to other forums, articles and websites which discuss these fakes in more depth

1. Introduction

Since late 2000, the eBay seller "atdinvest" sold thousands of fake overprints, fake imperforate sheets and blocks, and fake perforated blocks and stamps to the philatelic market. The seller boasted a stock of several million items.

Persistent efforts by concerned collectors to have this seller removed from eBay caused him to occasionally modify his auction descriptions or listing practices, but otherwise had little impact on his sales on eBay.

"atdinvest" attempted to sell the forgery business on eBay and other online auction venues in late 2003 and early 2004, but was unsuccessful. In late March, he then listed on eBay the equipment used to make the forgeries.

It is my belief that complaints made by collectors about these listings and the listing of the sale of the business in April prompted eBay to close down his selling account for good. "atdinvest" was suspended from eBay on 21 April 2004.

The selling ID "unlimitedstamps", which was used in 2000-2001, has also been suspended. The selling IDs "jcsr." (used in 1999) "cclan" (used in 1999-2000) and "futete" (used in 2000-2001) had been merged into the "atdinvest" account in September 2003.

After years of trying to pass off the forgeries as classical, having been the creations of forgers both well-known and fictitious, or of having come from old European collections, the listings exposing the equipment used to make the forgeries show the deceit practiced by this seller, and validate the efforts of concerned collectors who have worked to expose this seller's products as recently created.

The collecting community may find these modern fakes offered by resellers who have bought directly from "atdinvest". These sellers may knowingly offer them as forgeries, or hint that they are possibly genuine. Other sellers who have acquired them without knowing their provenance may describe them similarly.

These modern fakes will continue to flood the collecting market for some time. Most of the fakes are detectable by anyone with a stamp catalogue, but they are truly "album weeds" and have no place in our hobby.

2. Details of fake overprints, blocks and sheets

The various types of overprints, blocks and sheets are discussed in more detail in the following companion articles, which also chronicle the events which occurred in the eBay collecting community at the time these fakes were offered on eBay.

Fake overprints (mid 2000 - late 2001)
Modern fake blocks and sheets (late 2001 - early 2004)

3. Attempts to sell the forgery business

In late September 2003, "atdinvest" attempted to sell the entire forgery business on eBay. When it did not sell at $49,900, the price was raised to $69,900. After failing to attract any buyers, the seller in late November began placing ads on other online auction sites, including the sell.com classifieds (listed at $34,000 negotiable), auction-warehouse.com (listed at $1.00!!) and auction.com (listed at $24,000). There were no takers.

The seller re-advertised the business on sell.com (18 March 2004, listed at $34,000) and auction.com (19 April 2004, listed at $24,000). [Note: As at October 2004, the ad on sell.com is still current, but the seller has been banished from auction.com. An ad is still current on bizbuysell.com, asking $7,900.]

In late March, he listed on eBay the equipment used to make the forgeries. Among the paraphernalia offered were:

  • hundreds of rubber cancellers and handstamps (unsold on 27 Mar 04)
    showing close-up photos of various types of overprint handstamps and vinyl sheets of overprints from which the cancellers where made
  • over 80 CDs of images used to print the imperforate sheets (unsold on 27 Mar 04)
  • perforation equipment (unsold on 31 Mar 04)
  • large lots of sheets, blocks and single stamps offered as dealers' stock (one lot sold for the asking price of US$899)

Click on a thumbnail to see a larger image in a new window.

Some of the handstamps used, which were cut out from vinyl sheets. Described as 'Hundreds of cancellations worldwide since the early 1800s up to the WWII. Reproductions from the genuine cancellations.' Some of the handstamps used, which were cut out from vinyl sheets. Described as 'Hundreds of cancellations worldwide since the early 1800s up to the WWII. Reproductions from the genuine cancellations.'
Some of the vinyl sheets from which the handstamps were made. Described as 'Hundreds of cancellations worldwide since the early 1800s up to the WWII. Reproductions from the genuine cancellations.' Some of the CDs of data for sale, described as 'Ten years of artwork and design accumulated in this historical library of reproductions on 87 CD's of proof and plates ready to print history in the making'.
Perforating equipment Some of the blocks and sheets on offer as 'dealer stock inventory', selling for US$899.

The seller relisted his business on eBay on 14th April, this time lowering the price to $11,999.99.

4. Suspension from eBay

A new "Replicas/ Repros/ Forgeries" category was created in March 2004 on eBay.uk to separate items like these from the mainstream stamp categories. In April, this category was hotly discussed on an eBay.uk discussion board. The attention of eBay staff was drawn specifically to the operations of "atdinvest", those who resold items purchased from him (the UK-based seller "mailbyrail") and those who created their own forgeries for sale on eBay in addition to reselling Hialeah material (the UK-based seller "lotus194").

The exposure of the problem to eBay management, coupled with complaints made by collectors about the listing of the forgery equipment and the business itself, appear to have prompted eBay to make a decision to remove such sellers from its site. "atdinvest" was suspended from eBay on 21 April. "lotus194" was suspended a week later.

5. Resellers of Hialeah forgeries

Over the past few years, thousands of Hialeah forgeries have found their way into the collecting community. There is every chance that they will eventually be unknowingly resold as genuine stamps, freaks, proofs, or some other wrongly labelled item by collectors and dealers alike, or knowingly sold as genuine by dealers intent on making money out of them. And unfortunately for the stamp community, people will eventually be fooled by them.

For example, in November 2001, a seller offered 3 Hialeah Specimen overprints as genuine. When informed that they were fakes, he admitted that he found them in a mounted collection, erroneously assumed they were genuine and listed them as such.

Some sellers, after having bought overprints either as single stamps, or in imperforate sheets or blocks from "atdinvest"'s auctions, have listed them in smaller lots or as singles at a higher mark-up, or "salted" them in their regular lots.

The following sellers have offered multiple lots of Hialeah forgeries:

  • "altima121@aol.com" (now NARU'd) - fake overprints
  • "stampsrus2001" (now NARU'd) - fake blocks and sheets offered as "proofs" in private auctions
  • "deboeraxel" (no longer selling stamps) - fake imperforate blocks and singles, offered as forgeries
  • "arnoldpwc" - fake cancelled items offered "as is" with no returns in private auctions
  • "lotus194" (currently NARU'd) - buying mixed lots of fake blocks, and using private auctions to resell them as singles with misleading description that they might be "reproductions" or "essays"
  • "mailbyrail" - has bought fake imperforate blocks, was selling them singly as "proofs", "essays", "colour trials", etc, before changing the description to modern reproductions.
  • "spacelady00" - currently selling "mailbyrail"'s stock of Hialeah forgeries, using the generic description:

    "This is a modern reproduction and is printed by the wrong printing process, on the wrong paper and has 'repro' stamped on the reverse in order to comply with eBay and International regulations."
On 12 June 2004, following the apparent purchase of the forgery business from "atdinvest", new eBay seller "princesstamps" put up 18 listings of imperforate blocks, and indicated that the word "Repro" would be printed in blue ink in italics in 12 pt arial font on the reverse of each stamp sold. After initially being friendly and helpful when responding to enquiries, she became more reserved and put off answering further questions, and has not listed since.

6. Educating the collecting community

a) Chat forums, newsgroups and specialist discussion groups

The eBay stamps chat board was used since 2001 by collectors to educate potential bidders about the forgeries. Increasing censorship by Liveworld after its takeover of the management of the board in April 2003 prompted board member Dave Frick to create a new StampChat board in May. This board became a popular forum for the discussion of issues important to the online philatelic community, including misdescribed items and fraudulent activities on eBay and elsewhere. In April 2004, this board was succeeded by the StampChat+ board. Members of both boards continue to post any new developments on resellers of Hialeah fakes.

The seller "atdinvest" was occasionally mentioned in general stamps newsgroups and specialist discussion groups when related fakes were listed. I am aware of the following:

Arab Gulf and Yemen Stamp Group (fake "Specimen" overprints)
New Hebrides Postal History Group (New Hebrides fake "Specimen" and France Libre overprints)
Iran Philatelic Study Circle (1909 Arms-issue with bogus "Specimen" overprint)
The Rossica Society of Russian Philately (Russian fake imperforate sheets)
Publiafinsa (Spanish fake imperforate sheets) - in Spanish
Third Reich Stamps group (Third Reich fake overprints, fake cancels and fake imperforate sheets)

b) Philatelic journals and websites

The overprints have been mentioned or documented in separate articles in various philatelic journals, publications and websites (see references below for those known to me and which have covered the subject in any depth).

The journal The News of Hungarian Philately, Apr-Jun 2001 mentioned "the 'factory' (located in Hialeah) that produced the 'V' overprints". The editorial of the September 2001 catalogue of The Stamp Centre (of the Strand, London) mentioned the Rhodesian Study Circle, thanking them for warning them of the specimens from "Hileah". The President of the France & Colonies Philatelic Society warned of these overprints in his third quarter 2001 letter on the society's website.

The Canadian Stamp News (28 January - 10 February, 2003) published an extensive front page article on this seller, mainly dealing with the issue of copyright of Canadian stamps by Canada Post, and included a follow-up in its 11-24 February issue (p8). CSN published a further report in its 18-31 May 2004 issue on the attempted sale of the forgery business and subsequent suspension of "atdinvest".

7. Conclusion

This seller was removed from eBay only through the continued efforts of concerned collectors, who reported his activities to eBay, the APS and law enforcement authorities.

Guidelines such as those used by the APS (which prevent modern forgeries from being offered in their Stampstore or sales circuits) should be used to prevent sales of modern reproductions on eBay and other online auction houses such as Yahoo.

The action taken by Canada Post also shows that other postal authorities can take steps to have items like these removed from auction if they are informed and are prepared to act on copyright issues.

Collectors can also use education as a tool. Spread the word about the fakes in your collecting area by:

  • discussing them at stamp club meetings, stamp bourses and stamp shows
  • writing short articles for your newsletter, local stamp club bulletin or specialist society journal
  • discussing them online in general newsgroups and specialist forums and mail groups
  • directing collectors to existing websites and articles which discuss these fakes

Keep up with any further developments concerning these fakes by regularly visiting:

  • the eBay Stamps chat board and the StampChat+ board
  • the SCADS website
  • the eBay listings of "princesstamps" and other known resellers
  • other websites discussing these fakes

References

a) Publications

  1. David J. Davies, When is a forgery NOT a forgery?, American Philatelist, Vol 118 No 11, November 2004, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. eBay ... a safer place to trade, Stamp News Australasia, Vol 51 No 9, September 2004, VIC, Australia
  3. Sheryll Oswald, eBay Takes Action Against Fraud, Capital Philately, Vol 22 No 4, August 2004, withACT, Australia
  4. Ian S. Robertson, Forger selling up..., Canadian Stamp News, 18-31 May 2004, Ontario, Canada
  5. Peter Elias, The Hialeah Forgeries, Stamping Around, April 2003, Mid-Cities Stamp Club, Arlington/Irving, TX, USA
  6. Ian S. Robertson, The forged Canadian stamps have once again disappeared from eBay, Canadian Stamp News, Vol 27 No 20, 11-24 Feb 2003, Ontario, Canada
  7. Ian S. Robertson, "Atdinvest" at it again on eBay, Canadian Stamp News, Vol 27 No 19, 28 Jan-10 Feb 2003, Ontario, Canada
  8. Fred Baumann, Caveat Emptor!, German Postal Specialist, Vol 53 No 7, September 2002, German Philatelic Society, USA
  9. Wayne Menuz, Fake and Bogus Stationery on eBay, Postal Stationery, Vol 44 No 2, Mar-Apr 2002, United Postal Stationery Society, USA
  10. Sheryll Oswald, Pacific Island Fakes on eBay, The Informer, Vol 66 No 1, Winter 2001-2002, Society of Australian Specialists/Oceania, USA
  11. Bryan Jones, Forgeries offered through Internet Auctions, Pacifica Vol 39 No 157, October 2001, Pacific Islands Study Circle, UK
  12. Sheryll Oswald, Fake Overprints on eBay – Beware!, Capital Philately, Vol 19 No 4, August 2001, ACT, Australia
  13. Ian S. Robertson, Specimens sold on eBay, Canadian Stamp News, August 28 - September 10, 2001, Ontario, Canada
  14. Sheryll Oswald, Forged Overprints on eBay – Beware!, The Asia Pacific Exhibitor, Vol 14 No 3, August 2001, ACT, Australia
  15. Sheryll Oswald, Forged Overprints on eBay – Beware!, Capital Philately, Vol 19 No 3, May 2001, ACT, Australia
  16. Bryan Jones & Bill Holland, Wallis & Futuna – Forged Overprints on the Internet, Pacifica Vol 39 No 155, April 2001, Pacific Islands Study Circle

b) Websites

  1. Richard Warren (2004) Some notes on the "reproductions" of "atdinvest" (Juan Canoura Sr.)
  2. Peter Elias (2003) The Hialeah Forgeries
  3. Dirk H.R. Spennemann (2002) Stamps and Postal History of the Marshall Islands, Detailed analysis of Hialeah Forgeries
  4. Evert Klaseboer (2003) Catalogue Hialeah Forgeries
  5. Richard Frajola (2001) Hialeah Fakes
  6. Richard Warren (2004) Burma & Myanmar philately
  7. Wirat Limpaiboon (2003) Modern Thai Forgeries
  8. Roland Klinger et al (2001) Virtual Stamp Album New Hebrides, Forgeries / Later Forgeries
  9. Cheng Jiun Yuan (2001) Stamps of Malaya, Modern Faked Overprints
  10. Joe Cartafalsa (2000) French Indo-china Fakes and Fantasies, Fantasy "CORPS EXPEDITIONNAIRE DU TONKIN" Cancels
  11. StampChat+ chat board

© 2001, Sheryll Oswald, All Rights Reserved.
Material from this article may be reproduced only with the written consent of Sheryll Oswald.

Any further comments, corrections and questions may be emailed to sheryll at sheryll dot net



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