"atdinvest" - fake overprints and modern fake blocks and sheets on eBay
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
6. Educating the collecting community
|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:
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.
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.
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:
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger image in a new window.
The seller relisted his business on eBay on 14th April, this time lowering the price to $11,999.99.
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.
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:
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)
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".
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:
Keep up with any further developments concerning these fakes by regularly visiting:
© 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