Girl Scouts Leaders Are Stealing Cookie Money From Their Girls
When it was reported that Girls Scouts troop leader Ana Juarez was charged with stealing $6,000 worth of cookie money from her troop, the mother seemed to stand alone in her deplorable crime. The shame of not only stealing from children, but also from her very own 6-year-old daughter who was also in the troop, would make any parent hope that this was an isolated incident. But apparently, Girl Scout leaders getting their hand caught in the cookie jar is by no means a rare occurrence.
A reader named Brandy commented on Mommyish that instances of money theft in Girl Scouts are not “unheard of.” When she was a Brownie, another parent stole cookie money from her mother’s Girl Scouts troop. She added, “There isn’t enough oversight of money.”
Shelly, a service unit manager, is in charge of such oversight, keeping financial tabs on about 40 troops. The volunteer position involves collecting finance reports and settling financial disputes between troop leaders and parents.
“You will be surprise at what parents think they can do with the troop’s money,” she commented on Mommyish. Shelly explains that if she and her colleagues do not receive finance reports from a leader, “red flags” are sent up. She can request that her bosses, who are on GSUSA’s payroll, check the bank account. Her local council has a paid finance officer who can peek into every troop’s bank account.
“Most of the time it is just the leader is busy and forgot, but every now and then we will have a leader who has spent the money on herself,” Shelly writes. “Usually it is when a leader is moving out of state and no longer being a leader. They feel they can take the money and run. But last year I had a leader drain $3,000 from her troop account. I wish my council would arrest her, but all they have done is send her to our debt collector.”
Michelle Tompkins, a spokesperson for GSUSA, confirms that using collection agencies is just one way local councils can go after thieving troop leaders. She tells Mommyish, “we hear about theft all the time,” but adds that there is at present no nationalized policy for handling cookie money theft. Each local council handles the cookie program in their own way.
“Some councils try and handle it internally as long as possible,” she says. “Sometimes they do use external money finding firms, like collection agencies. [Money theft] is something that in Girl Scouting is really frowned upon. But it is also something that is a little different anywhere.”