Royal Mail charges elderly woman £5 to get Christmas card which was unknowingly sent with 'counterfeit' stamp

Royal Mail is charging people £5 to get letters they have been sent due to 'counterfeit' stamps

Royal Mail charges £5 to release letters sent with counterfeit stamps, even if the sender didn't realise it was a fake stamp

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 11/01/2024

- 13:35

Updated: 08/03/2024

- 10:15

Royal Mail hiked the charge to release letters sent without the full postage or a “counterfeit” stamp from £2.50 to £5 in October 2023

Royal Mail is charging members of the public four times the cost of postage to release letters they’ve been sent with stamps deemed “counterfeit”.

A Kent woman whose elderly aunt was forced to pay £5 to receive a Christmas card from her was “mortified and embarrassed” by the incident.

Helen Booth*, from Ashford, told GB News she bought a sheet of first class stamps from a well-known online marketplace and was horrified to find they were counterfeits.

Her 88-year-old aunt in Eastbourne received a Royal Mail notice last week stating there was a £5 fee to pay to release a letter because the sender hadn’t paid the full postage.

Has your post been sent with a “counterfeit” stamp? Get in touch by emailing

Royal Mail note states recipient must pay \u00a35 to get the letter

The Royal Mail note stated the recipient must pay £5 to get the letter


“My aunt had no idea what it was or who it was from, so she paid the fee, which is an outrageous price to charge simply to receive a letter and amounts to a ransom note from Royal Mail,” Mrs Booth said.

“I’m mortified and embarrassed that my poor aunt had to pay so much, and go to all that trouble, just to get a card from me. It had a yellow sticker had been attached on the front, declaring a 'counterfeit stamp' was used."

She told GB News: “I bought the stamps in good faith and got an invoice which said it was from Royal Mail and looked genuine. I’m devastated that I paid all that money for a sheet of worthless stickers.

“I’m the victim of a crime and now my aunt is too."

A first class stamp, for a letter up to 100g, now costs £1.25.

Royal Mail hiked the fee for a letter or large letter if there was no postage paid or a counterfeit stamp was used from £2.50 to £5 in October.

Several members of the public have complained of having to pay a £5 fee to release letters sent with a counterfeit stamp on social media, with several posting photos of the yellow stickers attached to the envelope.

One person wrote: “Apparently this is a counterfeit stamp. But I'm struggling to understand why the recipient needs to pay £5 to get the item delivered. The cost of the stamp, sure, but a £4+ excess?”

Beside another photo, someone else penned: “Good to know that @RoyalMailStamps will charge you if someone sends you an item with a counterfeit stamp on it instead of taking it up with the sender. Merry Christmas to you too!”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Counterfeit stamps are illegal, extremely costly to our business and can disrupt our operational processes.

First class stamps from Royal Mail

Royal Mail rolled out barcoded stamps to try to reduce the risk of fraudulent stamps


"The vast majority of our customers use the correct postage and will not be affected by these surcharges. In order to protect customers, we increased these charges on October 30, 2023 to act as a meaningful deterrent to customers who use counterfeit stamps.

“We actively investigate fraudsters as we don't like to see our customers ripped off. We regularly monitor online marketplaces to detect suspicious activity and will contact the appropriate platform to request its immediate removal.

“We would always recommend that customers buy their stamps from reputable high street outlets. Stamps are also available directly from the Royal Mail online shop.

"Customers should always report any suspicious stamps to Royal Mail via our website, Action Fraud and to their local Trading Standards office."

Royal Mail has rolled out new barcoded stamps as part of a modernisation drive, with the company stating the unique barcodes will "facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers".

*GB News has changed Mrs Booth's name.

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