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One woman stepped in at the right time.

There’s been an uptick lately in what some people are calling the Grandparent Scam. It’s a telephone robbery where a caller pretends to be the target’s grandchild in need of fast cash to get out of an emergency situation.

Many seniors fall victim to the callers’ lies, wiring hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a stranger. Cecil Rodgers is one of those seniors, but luckily for him, his story ends on a happier note.

How a Walmart Cashier Saved a Man From Being Scammed

"scam" written on a notepad surrounded by money
Photo by Tara Winstead

Rodgers was looking forward to spending the holidays with his children and grandchildren when a man claiming to be his grandson called. “Papaw,” the voice said, “This is your oldest grandson. I’ve been in a car accident.”

The caller went on to explain that he was drunk at the wheel and hit a pregnant woman. He was now in jail and desperately needed his grandfather’s help. Then, he put his “lawyer” on the line.

Rodgers listened as the supposed lawyer explained that his grandson needed $2,300 for bail. If Rodgers could wire the money quickly with a store-to-store transfer at Walmart, then the lawyer would be able to get his grandson out of jail and send him home.

So Rodgers did what any concerned grandparent would do and went to the bank to withdraw the money. He had been saving for Christmas, but family came first, and he would do what needed to be done.

Rodgers got in a line at his local Walmart, and when he got up to the cashier, he explained that he needed to transfer $2,300 to bail his grandson out of jail. Something was bothering him. The lawyer had warned Rodgers not to tell anyone the details, but Rodgers was still working it out in his head. For the cashier, Audrella Taylor, that was a big red flag.

“I am going to refuse the sender,” Taylor explained to the elderly man. “I’m not going to let you send that money. I think you are being scammed.” Taylor asked Rodgers if he had received a call from his daughter, the boy’s mother, or any of his other children. But Rodgers had only gotten heard the news from his “grandson” and the “lawyer.”

How One Woman Proved the Importance of Staying Aware

Taylor told Rodgers to go home and call his daughter before he sent any money. She thought it was strange that the boy wouldn’t have called his mother first, and Rodgers had to agree.

When he called his daughter, Taylor’s suspicions were confirmed. There had been no car crash, and Rodgers’s grandson was safe and sound at college. Taylor had stopped Rodgers from falling victim to a scam that would have ruined their Christmas. It was good news all around.

Taylor’s store manager, Dominic Gross, commended the woman for her quick thinking. Since the incident, the store has been training all its cashiers to recognize the warning signs of a financial scam, especially ones that target seniors.

A warning not to tell anyone else is certainly a red flag, as is any request to send large amounts of money. It’s also important to consider who the call is coming from. Seniors are encouraged to tell the caller that they will confirm the details and then hang up to call a loved one.

In this case, the cashier’s quick thinking helped save an elderly man from being robbed and saved Christmas for him and his family.

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