Poulsbo Post Office: You've got mail fraud

POULSBO — Nadine Kvinslend, 88, of Lofall mailed out 11 cards from the Poulsbo post office the day before Valentine’s Day to friends and family throughout Washington. The cards never made it to the intended mailboxes.

Rather than thank-you notes, Kvinslend instead received a call from the Poulsbo Postmaster informing her cards may have been involved in mail theft. They were not recovered.

James Masters, the Public Information Officer for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Western Area Field Office, said Wednesday afternoon recent mail thefts have sparked an internal investigation.

The investigation is centering on a postal employee, Masters said in an email to the Herald. Special agents from the inspector general’s office conducted a search warrant on March 5 in Poulsbo on allegations of mail theft.

“Anyone who may have been a victim in this incident was contacted by a representative from the USPS OIG,” he said. The inspector general’s office would not give details on how many customers had mail stolen.

As Kvinslend learned, mail thieves are after cold, hard cash — and checks — and some pieces of mail attract attention to themselves.

“They were checking on the people who are losing cards,” Kvinslend said. “They wanted to know how much money was in them. They asked me if it was a colored envelope.”

She was not concerned with the cash she put in the cards for her great-grandchildren and a few neighbor children. She was more upset that the children didn’t get their cards for Valentine’s Day.

“I’ve lived here for over 50 years and never had anything like that happen,” Kvinslend said. “I couldn’t believe it. Jeez, do we have to send things UPS now? I’m not going to mail any cards. I’ll hand it to them.”

Kvinslend’s daughter, Kristen Morley was also a victim of the mail thief and her card, mailed Feb. 17, never contained a check or money.

“I mailed a birthday card looking very much like a card,” Morley said. “I was just surprised. I have faith that whoever is running the post office will take care of it. It won’t spoil me forever for mailing stuff.”

Morley’s card was mailed back to her in an envelope with a letter from the inspector general. The letter informed them that the open card was recovered on March 5 in a mail theft investigation.

“I had to sign that I didn’t authorize anyone to open my mail,” she said.

Others, including Herald Publisher Donna Etchey and her husband, Jeff, also fell victim to the thief.

Jeff and Donna Etchey of Kingston mailed a birthday card with an enclosed check to their daughter on Feb. 20 from the Herald office in Pousbo.

“After almost a month of her not receiving the card, we received an envelope from the Office of Inspector General, United States Postal Service with the card, which had been opened and thankfully the check still inside,” Jeff and Donna Etchey said in an email.

“As part of the investigation they asked me to sign the letter stating that I was indicating that I did not authorize an individual ... to open, receive, or possess our mail,” Donna Etchey said.

The postal service employs more than 623,000 people and Masters said the public should be assured that this type of behavior is not common within this independent federal agency.

“It is an anomaly,” Masters said. “It is important for the public we serve to know the overwhelming majority of U.S. Postal Service employees are honest, hardworking, and trustworthy individuals who would never consider engaging in any type of criminal behavior,” Masters said.

Poulsbo Postmaster Katherine Strand was contacted but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

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