Her financial situation suspiciously changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Little did she know that her latest “letters” were being intercepted by the FBI and she would soon be arrested as an agent for the Japanese.
Velvalee crafted a series of letters and sent them to an address in Buenos Aires, forging the signatures of other doll collectors. Her downfall began when one of her letters was returned to an unsuspecting doll enthusiast after Velvalee misspelled her contact’s street address. The letter found its way to the authorities.
“The only new dolls I have,” one letter read, “are THREE LOVELY IRISH dolls.”
Another, “A lovely Siamese Temple Dancer which had been damaged, tore in the middle, but it is now repaired.”
It became obvious to the FBI that Velvalee Dickinson was passing military information about the Pacific Fleet to Japanese operatives in South America. After her arrest, she confessed to preparing the letters using correspondence received from her customers to forge their signatures. She also confessed to visiting naval yards and transmitting information to the Japanese.
She was found guilty of violating wartime censorship laws (saving her from espionage charges and the death penalty) and spent seven years in a correctional institution in Alderson, the same one made famous years later by Martha Stewart.
After her release, she quietly disappeared from sight.