Police are investigating nearly a dozen cases of residents not getting the Girl Scouts cookies they ordered in at least seven Long Island communities this month, authorities say.
So far, Suffolk County police say they've gotten 11 reports of cookie fraud from residents in Lake Ronkonkoma, Bohemia, Shirley, North Patchogue, East Patchogue, Mastic and St. James. All of the victims said they gave money for Girl Scouts cookies that were never delivered. All made the transactions between June 18 and 20.
In some cases, police say the money was handed to a man accompanied by a female child. In others, only the female child was present. More than half of the 11 reports made were for documentation purposes only, police said.
Victims have said they aren't overly worried about losing money, but rather are more concerned about the welfare of the young girl, who has been described as young as 6 or 7 years old, or as old as 11.
Police are looking into whether the cases are connected. Anyone with information is asked to call 631-852-COPS.
The owner of a newly opened restaurant in Patchogue said he remembers seeing the little girl run inside his business.
"Little young girl, about 11, excited selling Girl Scout cookies, and my wife was right in front and said wow, why not help the little one," said Jose Castillo. " I have kid, and to think someone can use a kid like that it’s heartbreaking. I don’t think it’s fair."
He and his wife gave the girl $40 for the treats, but a month later still do not have cookies.
Doorbell camera video from one victim showed the young girl approach the home's front door, with a man in a red sweatshirt waiting for her. It was not clear who the man was, or what his relationship to the girl was.
"It wasn’t the money, it’s the principal of it, what this man is teaching his daughter how to scam people at such a young age," said Kevin Zasowski, who was told the cookies he ordered would be delivered in May. "I’m not worried about the cookies or the money, just what happened to that little girl."
The Girl Scout Council of Suffolk County released a statement saying it was working with law enforcement and encouraged anyone who feels they have been victimized to reach out. It will provide cookies to those who placed bogus orders, it said.
“The Girl Scout Council of Suffolk County was saddened to learn that somebody would use the inherent goodwill of the Girl Scouts to take money from their neighbors under false pretenses," the group 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," the statement continued. "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."