After a woman passed two counterfeit $100 bills to a pair of Girl Scouts outside a Vons grocery store in Redondo Beach, the mothers of the two girls and a police investigator are asking the same question: Who would scam a pair of Girl Scouts?
Turns out, it’s not uncommon, according to Tammie Scott, volunteer service unit manager for the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, which covers the area of North Redondo and Hermosa Beach.
“Unfortunately, people find that they think we are easy targets,” Scott said. “It seems like every year it happens.”
Last year, Scott said someone passed off a fake $20 bill, and in years past, Girl Scouts have received counterfeit hundreds. Some of the incidents occurred at the same Vons, Scott said.
“If nothing else, we are advised not to take the large bills,” Scott said. “We certainly have had our share of counterfeit hundreds.”
Sachi Saunt, 14, and Caitlin Kakuk, 15, both freshman at Redondo Union High School, were selling Girl Scout cookies outside the Vons market on Inglewood and Marine avenues, in Redondo Beach, Sunday, Feb. 23, when a woman walked up with a small dog on a leash.
The girls, who have been involved in Scouts for the past 10 years, have gotten older now, so mothers Tammy Saunt and Marita Kakuk stood back and let the girls handle themselves.
The unidentified woman, who appeared to be in her mid-30s, held her hand over her mouth as she spoke, but the girls could see that she was missing her teeth, according to the mothers. The woman bought eight boxes of cookies with a $100 bill then went into the store. About a half hour later she came out and bought two more boxes with another $100 bill.
“I didn’t notice anything until she said that woman just gave us two $100 bills,” Tammy Saunt said. “That’s when I said, ‘Let me see that.’”
The bills didn’t feel right, she said, and when Saunt took them to the bank her suspicions were confirmed: the bills were counterfeit. Police took the bills into custody and recently released a photograph of a person of interest who matched the description of the woman who approached the girls.
“It’s a shame if it was done deliberately to take advantage of these Girl Scouts,” said Sgt. Mike Strosnider, who is investigating the case. “It’s just a shame.”
Strosnider advised anyone who recognizes the woman to call Redondo Beach Police: 310-379-2477.
“Counterfeit is actually more prevalent than people think,” said Strosnider, who added that he would contact the U.S. Secret Service to report the case and see if they could track the bills to a source.
The girls, meanwhile, are out $200, which comes out of their pocket. The families are planning a fundraiser, possibly at the Comedy and Magic Club, to help cover the costs.
“The thing that hits them the hardest,” Scott said, “is that people are stealing from them, which is really hard for kids who are doing their best and seeing the good in people.”