Salem Girl Scout helps put counterfeiter behind bars

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) – An Oregon man’s craving for Girl Scout cookies has landed him in jail. Police say he used counterfeit money to buy a box of cookies. But thanks to an astute 13-year-old scout, he got caught.

Yes, they’re delicious, but let 13-year-old Ava Brown remind you: Girl Scout cookies don’t sell themselves.

Ava hopes to clear 2,000 boxes this year to help. She and her family set up shop outside the Lancaster Walmart in Salem on Sunday, February 16. It was a busy morning but Ava still noticed something was off when one guy walked up.

“He bought a box of tagalongs and got 15 dollars in real change,” Ava said. That’s real change, for a fake $20 bill.

Ava explained, “I kept looking at it and I was like, ‘There’s no way this is the same. This does not feel right!’”

Rather than confront the man right there, Ava let it go. “He was intimidating and I didn’t want to say anything,” she said. “I didn’t know if he could be aggressive or anything like that.”

After the man left, Ava told her mom, who called Salem police.

“It was pretty disappointing that she got fake money,” Ava’s mom said. “We’ve been doing Girl Scouts for six years and we’d never seen it before. It was shocking.”

The very next Sunday, police say the suspect came back to the Lancaster Walmart. The store’s loss prevention team recognized him from surveillance video and called Salem police. Officers showed up and arrested 36-year-old Camden Ducharme.

Ducharme was charged with first-degree forgery and third-degree theft.

Ava said, “I would tell him he should probably think twice before he does something like that again.”

And she didn’t stop there. Ava reached out to Wells Fargo Bank to learn more about detecting counterfeit money. The bank donated enough detector pens for the whole troop and Ava plans to make a training video for other scouts.

“What is important is Ava’s learning from it and she’s helping others because of it,” her mom said.

“That’s one of our Girl Scout mottos,” Ava commented, “to make the world a better place.”

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