Note: we are republishing this story to raise awareness about the dangers of falling victim to scam calls which have surged in volume recently. In 2021 alone, Americans have been exposed to 4+ Billion scam calls per month. Going into the holiday season, make sure you and your loved ones are aware of the dangers of these scams that can affect you via calls, texts, and emails.
Cecil Rodgers was excited to spend Christmas with his children at his home in Elmwood Place until he received a call from someone who claimed to be his grandson. "A voice comes on and says, 'Papaw, this is your oldest grandson. I'm in trouble,'" he said, adding that the person on the phone stated that he’d been in a car crash.
"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 recalled. The person put his “attorney” on the phone, who told Rodgers to go to a local Walmart and discreetly perform a $2,300 store to store transfer to pay for his bail bond.
The “lawyer” told him: "I'm going to try to get him out so he can drive home."
Rodger quickly did as he was told, withdrawing $2k from his bank account before heading to the Evendale Walmart.
While this story usually ends with a scammed senior citizen, this was not the case this time. Rodgers queued at Audrella Taylor’s register. She said, "He said something about somebody was locked up in jail, he got a call, and he needed to send $2,000."
Taylor, who has been a Walmart employee for five years, immediately got suspicious. "I said, 'I am going to refuse the sender. I'm not going to let you send that money. I think you are being scammed,'" she said, telling Rodgers to go home and call his children to find out if there was a crash.
He found out that his grandson was safe at college. The scam is usually successful because the scammer tells the senior not to tell anyone, including the store clerks or their family. Taylor said that this was a red flag.
"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 said. Walmart store manager Dominic Gross praised Taylor’s quick thinking. "We are very happy with Audrella and all our customer service associates who help in that manner," he said.
The manager added that cashiers were now being trained to spot warning signs that customers transferring money or buying large amounts of gift cards were being scammed. Rodgers thanks Taylor for helping him save $2,000, which saved his family's Christmas. "I don't have much," Rodgers said.
Unfortunately, store clerks are not able to stop all scams. Inform your older relatives of the "grandparent scam," so they don't fall victim to it.