Virginia Cafeteria Worker Charged With Stealing From Elementary Students’ Lunch Money Accounts

A Virginia cafeteria worker has been arrested for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from students’ lunch money accounts, NBC News is reporting.

Fadwa Sarsaur, 51, of Alexandria, turned herself in to Fairfax County authorities on Friday, where she was promptly arrested and charged with three counts of embezzlement.

Sarsaur worked at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences in Falls Church, where her job was to take money from parents – cash or checks – and put it into the kids’ lunch money accounts. It is unclear, as of this writing, how long she had been working at the job. However, her alleged embezzlement scheme appears to date as far back as 2013.

Authorities say that Sarsaur would post-date account records so that she could skim money after the deposits.

One of Sarsaur’s supervisors became suspicious when the supervisor noticed that Sarsaur had logged deposits on dates when the school wasn’t open, such as weekends or snow days. The Fairfax County Schools brought their suspicions to the police, who began an investigation earlier this month.

It is not clear, as of this writing, how much money Sarsaur is alleged to have stolen from the kids’ lunch money accounts; police would only say that it was “in the thousands.”

This is not the first time a school employee has been caught allegedly stealing kids’ lunch money.

In January 2014, Fulton County school police in suburban Atlanta issued arrest warrants for North Springs High School cafeteria manager Brenda Watts, who was tied to a crude embezzlement scheme that may have netted over a million dollars, according to WSB-TV (Atlanta).

Another cafeteria worker at the school decided to blow the whistle on Watts’ scheme and contact the media after surreptitiously recording video of the scheme. Here’s how it worked: students paying for regular lunches, either via cash or school credit, would wait in one of four lines and pay at a cash register. A fifth line, however, sold ala carte items and had no cash register, according to whistle-blower Beth Walsh.

“It’s a box with cash in it and a lady back there just selling goods. There’s no system. Nothing is written down.”

That fifth line, and its impossible-to-trace cash box payment system, had, by some estimates, been there for as long as 15 or even 20 years. Police estimate that the box took in as much as $500 per day; going back 15 years, WSB-TV reporter Richard Belcher computed that the scam could have theoretically netted as much as $1,135,000.

When Belcher went to Watts’ home for comment, he found a lifestyle that doesn’t seem to befit a middle manager in a public school system. Her home was a 5,400-square-foot house in a well-to-do Atlanta suburb, and while waiting for a response to a knock on the door, Belcher witnessed a Mercedes drive away.

In another large-scale school-lunch-money theft case, this time in California, Judith Oakes, an accountant with the Rialto Unified School District stole an estimated $3 million through an even more crude embezzlement scheme: she stuffed cash into her bra, according to The New York Daily News.

Rialto police Capt. Randy De Anda told local media that Oakes was caught on video stuffing cash into her bra. Over the course of several years, sneaking out a few hundred (or a few thousand) dollars at a time, Oakes was able to embezzle as much as $3 million.

As of this writing, it is not clear when Fadwa Sarsaur, the Virginia cafeteria worker who allegedly embezzled student lunch money, will be arraigned in court.

[Image via Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images]