SPRING HILL, Fla. - Two men are under arrest for running a door-to-door scam in Spring Hill that involved nine youths from the Orlando area, Hernando County authorities say.
Kendy Senat, 22, and Terrence Holiday, 21, are facing charges of organized fraud and nine counts of child neglect, WFTS-TV reported.
Detectives say Senat and Holiday had the youngsters go door-to-door in an attempt to sell food goods and other items Wednesday.
Deputies say the kids advised residents that they were soliciting for a non-profit, youth organization based out of Orlando called "Aware and Active Youth Corp."
The organization was supposed to be designed to offer extra-curricular activities to its members. Deputies say Senat and Holiday even gave the kids cue cards to read to "customers" regarding the "non-profit organization" and funding the youth group.
Kids sold items for $8 a piece, according to authorities. However, investigators later learned those items were purchased from a Dollar Store.
Authorities say the group was pocketing all of the money. The juveniles were permitted to keep $2.25, and the rest went to Senat and Holiday, investigators say.
According to a press release, the juveniles told detectives they would normally work 8-12 hours per day and would earn between $5 and $50 per day.
Authorities estimate the group took Hernando County residents for around $500
Deputies were alerted to the the unsupervised kids when one of them asked a resident off Kenway St. for a drink of water. That resident thought it was suspicious that the kids were left without food, water or a means of communication and called police.
"They looked beat," said Bob Hahn, a resident who opened the door to three of the kids.
Hahn said he was not sold anything but the kids did ask to use his phone. Suspicious of the kids, Hahn did not let them in his house. Instead, he allowed the kids to use his cellphone
"I assumed they were calling for a ride home," Hahn said.
Hahn still had the number stored in his phone when he spoke to ABC Action News. The area code was 407 and when we called the number, it went to a cellphone's voicemail box.
Authorities did contact the parents of the children. All of them apparently thought their children were with Senat and Holiday at a youth convention in Tampa.
The juveniles were dropped off at 1 p.m. and were walking unsupervised until 6 p.m., deputies said. The children also told authorities they didn't even know the county they were in nor the city.