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Cookie hoax: Girl Scouts scammed out of $24,000
It's bad enough for a couple of Girl Scout troops in Oregon to get stiffed on a $24,000 order for 6,000 boxes of cookies. It's even worse when the perpetrator isn't some big uncaring company or soulless adult, but one of the scouts' own.


As ABC's Good Morning America reported on Sunday, two troops from the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington were left with huge stockpiles of cookies when an email order they received turned out to be a fake. What GMA didn't report, and what The Oregonian found out later, was that the order was approved because the email came from an acquaintance of a troop leader.


The troop leader exchanged dozens of e-mails with the sender over the next few weeks, but the person on the other end turned out to be a girl using her mother's address to have some fun at the scouts' five-figure expense. Fortunately for the mean girl in question, Oregon -- and Portland specifically -- loves itself some Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs and has been generously bailing out the scouts.


Despite grumblings about a cookie-selling conspiracy and ripped-from-"Portlanr03;dia" complaints about the cookies themselves from organic grocery shoppers and foes of genetically modified foods -- Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen themselves couldn't have written a better comments field -- the scouts sold 3,000 boxes to hundreds of people during an emergency sale at their Portland headquarters on March 16. They have another such event planned for this Saturday, but they're also taking -- and more judiciously scanning -- email orders at cookies@girlscoutsosr03;w.com.


The sister troops of Brownies (second and third graders) and Juniors and Cadettes (fourth grade and older) don't generally deal with this type of volume under normal and more truthful circumstances. Scouts in their region sell roughly 175 boxes apiece, which means their combined force of 20 scouts typically sells 3,500 boxes by the time cookie season ends in early March. This year's cash was tabbed for the girls' trip to summer camp and for a homeless shelter the scouts were planning to support.


While the cookie sales are meant to give scouts a taste of the entrepreneurial spirit, Girl Scout council leaders thought that deception by one of their peers and a $24,000 loss were a bit too harsh a sample of the business world for 8-year-olds to handle. The broader lesson is that while green-eyed competitors may try to take you down, a large and loyal buyer base can balance them out.


“This was a really tough lesson regarding business ethics,” Sara Miller, spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, told The Oregonian. “But this outpouring of support from the community, they'll carry that with them forever."
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