A desperate, elderly man rushed into Walmart and asked an employee for immediate help. She took one look at him and quickly refused, telling him, “No way.” He was confused and asked why she wouldn’t help — and when she told him, his jaw hit the floor.
Cecil Rodgers, an elderly man from Cincinnati, Ohio, was looking forward to spending time with his family, including his adult grandchildren, at his Elmwood Place home. However, he got an unnerving call. On the other end of the line was Rodgers’ eldest grandson. “A voice comes on and says, ‘Papaw, this is your oldest grandson. I’m in trouble,'” Rodgers recalled.
“He said, ‘I hit a woman’s car and she was seven months pregnant. And they charged me with drunken driving and I’m in jail,'” Rodgers says he was told before a lawyer got on the phone. Rodgers was told that in order to help his grandson, he should go to Walmart and transfer $2,300 to another store, where the lawyer said he would pick up the money and use it to post the grandson’s bail in order to get him out.
The lawyer assured Cecil Rodgers that everything would be okay once he got the money, so the caring grandfather wasted no time heading to his local Evandale Walmart to do as he had been instructed. But, things wouldn’t go according to plan when he entered Audrella Taylor’s line.
After withdrawing the funds from an ATM, Rodgers went to the cashier to send the money. That’s when he came face to face with Audrella, who he thought would just do as he had asked. The last thing he expected was to deal with a cashier who adamantly stood in his way and declined the transaction. However, that’s what he got. Now, he couldn’t be more thankful.
Luckily, Cecil Rodgers opened up to Audrella about his grandson’s emergency. As he started explaining what happened, the cashier quickly put a stop to the transaction. Looking at the desperate, elderly man in front of her, who was so determined to help his grandson, Audrella immediately smelled a rat. And, she was right.
Rodgers’ intentions were pure, but the same can’t be said for the caller who claimed to be his grandson. As it turned out, the voice on the phone wasn’t Rodgers’ grandson at all. And, the second person who took the line wasn’t a lawyer, either. Instead, these were scammers who had perfected their craft of preying on the elderly in what’s become known as the “grandparent scam.”
“He said something about somebody was locked up in jail, he got a call, and he needed to come in to send $2,000,” Audrella recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I am going to refuse the sender. I’m not going to let you send that money because I think you’ve been scammed.'”
Audrella further explained that her first clue was that the call was made by the alleged grandson to his grandfather and not to the young man’s mother. “Because his daughter hadn’t been contacted yet, I felt like if a son was in true need, the mom would have been contacted first before the grandpa would,” she explained. So, she told Rodgers to hold off a minute, calm down, and go call his other family members. She believed he would find out that his grandson was fine, and sure enough, she was right. Rodgers’ grandson was safe at college.
There had not been a car accident, and his grandson was not in jail. The entire call was a scam with the so-called lawyer convincing Rodgers to rush to do the transaction without letting anyone else in the family know, allegedly as to not cause his grandson any embarrassment. The truth is that convincing Rodgers not to call anyone else to ask about the situation prevented the older man from discovering the truth. However, thanks to a savvy cashier, he and his wallet were saved.
Now, the elderly man, who says he doesn’t have much, is very grateful that the Walmart employee stepped in to intervene, saving him more than $2,000. Rightfully, Rodgers thinks Taylor is a hero, and the Walmart store manager agrees. “We’re very proud of Audrella and all of our customer service associates that helped,” Manager Dominic Gross said, explaining that they now train cashiers on the warning signs that someone is being scammed, including transferring large sums of money or buying large amounts of gift cards, according to WCPO.
Sadly, con artists often have an easy time scamming people out of their money, especially the elderly. And, there’s not always someone like Audrella who takes the time to save a target by gathering information to identify a scam before it occurs. Since not all scams are thwarted by store clerks, this story serves to not only praise Audrella for going above and beyond but also as a warning to others.
It’s important for families to talk with their elderly loved ones about these potential scams and to encourage them not to ever feel pressured to transfer money or give up their banking account and other personal information over the phone or email. All it takes is a few minutes to call someone they trust or contact authorities to check up on whether or not a situation is legitimate. Scammers prey on people who are trusting and easily rushed into action without question. Don’t let that be someone you care about.