I received a phone call from a gentleman in a neighboring state. He had top quality MNH Columbian, Trans-Mississippi, and Louisiana Purchase stamps to sell.

I suspected something was wrong when he started out by saying they are superb stamps that are graded high. I asked him if he had graded certificates for these stamps. He did not. But the company he bought them from said they would grade high. Red flag!

I asked him where he bought them from. My fear was confirmed. He bought them from a company in Minnesota that has a history of selling inferior copies as investment items with a lot of hype about how great the centering and condition are.

I personally know of one collector who spent nearly $40,000 with this company. And when he tried to sell his stamps, the best offer he got was $4500. Of course, the company selling the material wouldnít take them back at any price. Incidents like this give the hobby a black eye.

I really didnít want to get involved in the middle of this ticking time bomb when this investor finds out that he got taken. I politely informed him that I didnít deal in graded stamps. To get the most money for his investment, he should contact a stamp dealer who offers graded material. He thanked me for my time. I was off the hook.

In my opinion, the only dealer that he might listen to is one that deals in graded stamps that can (possibly) convince him that he got taken in a scam. If I made a fair offer on his stamps (probably at a large discount compared to what he paid), I would have been branded a thief. This gentleman obviously didnít take the time to learn how to invest in stamps. I wasnít willing to give my time for free to try and explain it to him. I was in a no-win situation. Only a dealer in graded stamps would be able to help this "investor".

The warning for you is that if you receive glitzy advertising for investment quality stamps from a company in Minnesota, throw it away. There are legitimate stamp brokers out there who will help you build an investment portfolio if that is your desire. These reputable firms advertise in major philatelic publications.

There is no substitute for knowledge. If youíre going to invest in stamps, you need to study and know the market inside and out. There is no free lunch!