MANATEE CO., Fla (WFLA) – It’s Girl Scout cookie season and some crooks are setting their sights, not on the tasty treats, but the cash collected by the troops.
At the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida headquarters in Sarasota, cases of Girl Scouts cookies are loaded up by parents, and some strong little brothers, to be sold across Tampa Bay.
“In front of Publix or Walmart on a weekend in a two-hour slot? You can sell 200 boxes. That’s like an extra thousand dollars coming in,” said Kelly McGraw with the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.
But at a couple of Publix’s and one Walmart in Bradenton, some crooks decided to pick up some cookies and pay with counterfeit bills making sure they asked for “change please” after handing in a big, fake bill.
Parents noticed their thin mint sales were a little thin discovering money with the same serial numbers.
“A whole bunch of people started posting. That happened to me! That happened to me,” McGraw said.
This hurt the girls more than anyone.
“First they were sad, and they didn’t understand and they’re asking, ‘Why is this happening? Why do they want to do this?'” McGraw said.
It’s a hard lesson to learn, but troop leaders told 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal they’re teaching the girls what to do next time they sell cookies.
“They might take a little extra time to inspect your money,” she said.
Troop leaders have reported the crime to Bradenton police. In the meantime, the girls will have counterfeit detection pens with them so they don’t get schemed again.
So far, $650 has been stolen from the Girl Scouts. That’s money that would have gone towards their goals.
Two troops told 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal they are planning to use the money earned to feed the homeless and buy donations for a local charity. This makes it harder for them to accomplish those goals.
For $40 stolen, the girls have to sell 54 boxes to earn back what they lost towards their goal.
If you would like to support the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, click here.
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