https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/m ... d-15632376
A crooked Birmingham couple who defrauded the Royal Mail by “washing” used stamps and selling them on ebay as new have both been jailed.
As a result of their scam, which they ran from their home in Sheldon for five years, they caused a potential loss to the company of over £400,000.
Wendy Baker, 55 and Dean Westwood, 56, both of Hengham Road, had previously pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud, possessing articles for use in fraud, adapting an article for fraud and supplying an article for fraud.
They were both sentenced to two years imprisonment.
The couple started buying used first and second class stamps in bulk in July 2013.
They came from charities and other organisations and were only normally of interest to stamp collectors who were looking for unusual or rare stamps.
The amount they bought and then sold on ebay “dramatically accelerated” from initially £7,262 to £48,518 worth, said Ben Gow, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court.
The vast majority of the sales were to businesses and traders and there were multiple and repeat purchases.
Mr Gow said the defendants had subjected the stamps to a chemical process to remove their cancellation marks.
The glue was removed from the back with white spirit, they were dried with talcum powder, put on drying wracks and sprayed with hairspray “to make them look better.”
They were sold at a significant discount and in 2014 Baker and Westwood established a company called Stampbusters as a vehicle for the illegal enterprise which was registered to their home with both of them named as directors.
The company was registered on Companies House.
The value of the amount of stamps sold was £443,244 while the defendant’s profited to the tune of £149,344.
Mr Gow said the couple had advertised their business with the adverts carrying disclaimers in a bid to legitimise what they had done.
The defendants had used the bogus stamps to send parcels themselves and Royal Mail investigators who made test purchases from them and also buyers identified the stamps as having previously been used.
Officers who went to their address in September last year discovered large numbers of first and second class stamps “in various states of process.”
When quizzed Baker said she had got the idea from someone in the pub while Westwood said he had no money at the time the business was started up.
In passing sentence Recorder Rachel Brand QC said the fraud had been “persistent and planned” and went on “You placed into circulation a huge number of washed stamps over a number of years allowing others to use them to cheat the Royal Mail out of revenue they were entitled to.”
Katie Fox, for Baker, said “This started as a legitimate enterprise. Baker needed a job so that she could work from home that was part time.”
She said there was a degree of unsophistication about it and that she had made no attempt to hide what she was doing.
While Andrew Tucker, for Westwood, said he was normally an honest and hard working man.