PATCHOGUE, N.Y. — Police on Long Island are investigating a troubling case of a possible Girl Scouts cookies scam.
Many Suffolk County residents are complaining that they handed over cash to a child accompanied by an adult, but never got any cookies.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, they’re not concerned not about the missing cookies, but rather, the child’s welfare.
“She was so cute. You couldn’t resist her,” said Kevin Zasowski of Patchogue.
Zasowski said the child was irresistible as Girl Scout cookies are. He’s one of many who believes he was the victim of a cookie caper, which was caught on camera.
“I found cash. There you go,” a woman says on video.
“Like we said, May 15 between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.,” a man says.
But mid-May came and went.
“No cookies, no money, no sign of them,” Zasowski said.
The child and a man made the rounds through Shirley, Patchogue, and surrounding towns in mid-April. Suffolk police say they’ve received at least 11 reports and are investigating if they are connected.
“Every other person, ‘Me too, me too,'” Zasowski said.
“I like to help every organization. I order them every single year. Who would’ve thought a scam like this would happen?” Patchogue resident Nick Zavesky said. “It’s not about the money. It’s the principles you’re teaching this child.”
One resident said she paid $20 and offered up another form of kindness in the form of a playdate.
“I was bamboozled. I got scammed and it’s a shame,” said Christina Malinchak of Shirley.
Some hope there is a legitimate explanation, but Girl Scout cookies should have all been delivered by now and money is not taken up front.
The Girl Scouts Council of Suffolk County released the following statement: “The Girl Scout Council of Suffolk County was saddened to learn that somebody would use the inherent good will of the Girl Scouts to take money from their neighbors under false pretenses. We are working with law enforcement and would encourage anyone who believes they were a victim of this scam to contact the Suffolk County police to file a report. Our product sales department will provide cookies to anybody who placed a bogus order, because nothing is more disappointing than not getting your girl scout cookies!” the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County said in a statement.
“The Girl Scout cookie season is a limited period of time each year. Typically, it begins just before New Year’s and ends at the end of April or early May. Anyone selling cookies at this point in the year is not representing our council and its efforts. Additionally, during our sale, girls will either have a booth sale where the cookies are available on the spot or will have an order form with the information to be taken. They will not ask for the funds up front. Anyone recording a sale in a makeshift book and taking money is not accurately representing Girl Scouts of Suffolk County,” it added.
Residents say it’s not about the cookies.
“That’s the easiest say to get people to open up their wallets and to donate and order stuff they may not even want and it’s teaching the wrong message,” Malinchak said.
“He gets the help he needs and the little girl gets help, too,” Zasowski added.
Buyers told CBS2 they did report the matter to police for such a little bit of money, but they realize they’re far from alone. Suffolk police are urging anyone who thinks they were scammed to contact them.
In all, Suffolk County police said the incidents were reported to police between Saturday and Monday, and occurred between February and May in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th precincts.
During some of the incidents, the money was given to a male adult accompanied by a female child, and in others it was a female child alone. More than half of the reports made were for documentation purposes only.
Police are investigating the incidents to determine if they are connected. If anyone believes they may have been a victim, call 631-852-COPS.