The Innocent Man
Living in a quiet little retirement community in Elmwood Place, Cecil Rodgers was preparing to host his family for the holidays. With the tinsel strung up and the decorations just right, it was an exciting time as he counted down the days to have his family all less than one roof.
He had been saving for the season all year to be able to lavish his family with gifts. But one day, he received a phone call that would throw his holiday plans right out the window and turn his life upside down.
Grandson in Trouble
When Cecil answered the phone, his heart dropped. On the other line was a desperate plea from his oldest grandson. With a trembling voice, the grandson told Cecil he was in serious trouble and to please help him. With the holidays so close, Cecil couldn’t believe his ears.
His eldest grandson had been in a serious car accident and needed help. Trying to hold himself together, Cecil listened carefully and started asking what his grandson needed from him. All the while, oblivious to the idea that the person on the other line may not be his family after all.
The Story Thickens
The grandson continues to explain how his accident wasn’t a mere traffic bump but that there were other people involved, including a pregnant woman. Cecil’s heart dropped, and as he clung to the phone, his grandson admitted being thrown in jail for drunk driving and potential manslaughter.
Panic swept through Cecil as the wheels in his head started spinning to try to figure out what he could do to help. Any doubts that Cecil had swimming in his head were soon squashed as another character stepped in to lend credibility to his grandson’s story.
Enter the Lawyer
With sweaty hands, Cecil listened as the received crackled as his grandson handed the phone over to his lawyer. As Cecil listened to the lawyer, it became apparent that his grandson was, in fact, in serious trouble and needed his head as soon as possible.
The lawyer instructed Cecil to send $2,300 to him as quickly as he could how he could use Walmart store-to-store service to get the funds to his grandson to help him out.
Rodgers to the Rescue
With all doubts out of his mind, Cecil realized that time was not on his side. In order to help his grandson, he had to act fast. Without further hesitation, Cecil jumped into his car and raced to the bank to withdraw the funds. Although Cecil wasn’t a wealthy man, there was no way he was going to let his grandson sit in jail during the holidays.
As soon as he had the money in hand, he was zooming through the town to get to the nearest Walmart. Little did Cecil know he was about to meet his guardian angel.
The Angel of Walmart
Cecil parked his car and made a beeline for the customer service station inside the Walmart. In his mind, he didn’t think that what was happening to him was anything out of the usual. All he could think of was helping out his family and bailing his grandson out of jail.
Any other story would have ended here. Cecil would have gone into Walmart, made the wire transfer, and all would be done. However, he walked into the line of Audrella Taylor who Cecil would soon realize was his guardian angel.
More Information Please
Audrella Taylor stood aside and listened to Cecil as he began the transfer of funds. Immediately the quick-thinking cashier of Walmart knew something wasn’t right. And while she wasn’t about to stick her nose in other people’s business, she couldn’t just stand aside and have Cecil lose everything he had saved for Christmas.
As she counted the funds Cecil was transferring, she began probing Cecil for more information. To her dismay, she paused her counting and looked at Cecil. The grandfather was clearly distraught by the events, but something in the pit of her stomach nudging her to make a decision.
A Bold Choice
Audrella’s gut continued to nudge her to take action. And instead of simply doing what she was told to do, she listened to the inner voice in her head. After all, she wasn’t about to stand idly by and let the innocent grandpa be taking for a ride.
Instead, she stepped up and stopped him from making one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
Making the Call
By listening to her gut, Audrella stepped in and intervened with Cecil’s plans to send money. Granted, she wanted the old man to help out his family, but as he explained the story further, it was clear they weren’t getting all the facts.
While neither one was fully aware of the scam yet, it was clear that something wasn’t right. That’s when the Walmart cashier stepped up and refused to send the money and flatly said she believed he was being scammed.
All Too Real
Granted, Audrella didn’t know all the facts, but neither did Cecil, and unfortunately, elder fraud is a widespread issue that has caused more havoc and chaos than previous years. With personal and private information floating around the crypto sphere, it makes it easier and easier for people to gain that information. The scams that have targeted the elderly over the last several years are cunning and have cost over $30 million each and every year.
If it wasn’t for Audrella being so keen and quick-witted, Cecil would have fallen into the scammers net and lost more than just the initial money.
There are several reasons why scammers target the elderly. For one, the older generation has been around for a while. Many of them have lived in the same place for decades and have had the same phone number during those years.
Plus, their addresses and other means of communication have been posted for years for the public to view. This gives a sinister person all the fuel they need to find their perfect victim.
The Red Flags
One of the main things that scammers say when telling the story is that their victim shouldn’t tell anyone else. The scammer will lie on thick the guilt that they already feel and don’t want other family members to find out. When Cecil confessed this tidbit of information to Audrella, she knew right away. Something wasn’t fitting with the story.
Unless the grandkid has an unusual bond with the grandparents, chances are when they are in trouble, the first person the kid would contact is the mother. This little common sense on Audrella’s part shed much-needed light and relief to Cecil.
A Good Point
What Audrella didn’t realize at the time was that her instincts were spot on and illuminated another reason why senior citizens are often targets of this type of scam. Studies show that 83% of the elderly population has grandkids. So the chance of a scammer finding a victim is relatively easy if they have a list they pulled from the internet.
And the fact that many grandparents aren’t engaged in their grandkid’s lives, the chances of them knowing where they are at any given time is slim.
The grandparent scam has become such a problem that it even has its own name. A few years ago, on CBS, a former con artist brought to light the grandparent scam and revealed some truths which should now help others in the same situation as Cecil. What the con artist explained was how people 65 and older are targeted due to their gullibility.
He also explained that many of these people are homebound and that once the scammer plants an emotion hook into the older targets, those people would bend over backward to help. And while Cecil may have been hooked, he had a guardian angel that day to get him out of the scammer’s snare.
The Proof is in the Family
Despite all the warning signs and red flags, Audrella knew that the only way she was ever going to be able to help Cecil is if he saw the signs himself. So when she refused to transfer the money, she paused to ask Cecil one serious question.
The question stunned Cecil long enough to make him take pause. That one sliver of doubt was all he needed to realize he was about to make a serious mistake.
The Truth Came Out
Slowly, Cecil put two and two together and stopped trying to rush the process of getting the funds to his grandson. He did as Audrella suggested and went home to call the boy’s immediate family. And when he made that call, a sigh escaped his lips.
The family told Cecil that his eldest grandson was fine and in college. How they didn’t know anything of a car accident or any of the other nonsense that was spewed over the phone to Cecil.
Manipulation of the Heart
As the embarrassment of the situation came and went, Cecil isn’t the only person the grandparent scam has worked on. In fact, he is actually very lucky to have had Audrella his cashier that day and took immediate action to save him from a bigger mistake than simply falling for the scammer’s story. But those that prey on the elderly are good at what they do. They know the right words to say and which heartstrings to pull to get what they want.
Scammers often leverage the chaos and confusion that takes place in their victims’ minds when they tell their fabricated story. And more often than not, the scammers’ smooth-talking enables the victims to bypass their better judgment and jump into action.
Like a Good Neighbor
While Cecil was more than willing to hand over cash to help out his family, if it wasn’t for the quick thinking, and cleverness of Audrella, Cecil would have been taken for a serious financial ride. But Audrella was more than just a caring stranger; she ended up being Cecil’s personal angel that day and saved him from losing all the money he had put away for the holidays.
If it wasn’t for Audrella, and the kindness of this one stranger, Cecil would have become just another statistic. And while the whole situation is a common one, it just makes us realize that there are some pretty selfish individuals out there. Luckily though, there are also people like Audrella who are more than willing to step up and do the right thing to help combat the evil in the world.
The Scam Warriors of Walmart
Ms. Audrella Taylor isn’t the only beacon of hope in a dark world that is willing to stop a scam in its tracks; there are several people out there who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Take Richard Spencer, for example. This cab driver happened to pick up a senior citizen who was also in the same boat as Cecil. Instead of being told to wire money, she was instructed to send Walmart gift cards. The cab driver knew at once what was going on and turned his cab around before she could dole out the funds to the con artist.
For her role in helping Cecil avoid a financial situation, Audrella was commended by her store manager. Dominic Gross was proud and pleased that there were people like Audrella working in his store and putting the customer’s needs above the bottom line.
But it doesn’t stop with a mere pat on the back, no. Walmart understands the severity of the situation and has implemented a new training program so that they can better serve their customers and help stop future scams from happening.
Signs of a Scam
While Cecil was able to walk away from the situation unscathed, there are many people out there who aren’t so lucky. But there are signs and red flags that anyone can be on the lookout for when it comes to dealing with elderly fraud or any scam for that matter.
To better combat those who think they are victims of a scam, Walmart has posted to their website signs to look out for. The Walmart website displays a very long list of all the different scams taking place these days and goes beyond just the scam that Cecil Rodgers fell for.
While you may believe that Cecil was targeted because he was more gullible than others, but the truth is, there are several scams out there. Walmart’s website displays scams that aren’t just targeted at the elderly, but also IRS back-payments, lottery scams, and even mail order romance that are all geared towards getting people to send strangers money.
But it’s never too late to stop the criminals in their tracks if you know where to look and what to do. Con artists are clever and often great actors, but by educating yourself on the different ploys they do, will help you to avoid them altogether.
Happy Ever After
While Cecil’s story could have taken a horrible turn, it’s a miracle that Audrella was there when she was. If it wasn’t for her willingness to stand up and stop Cecil from sending the money, he would have been out $2,000, and the holidays would have been ruined. But his angel was there that day, and he has expressed his gratitude over and over again to Audrella.
All thanks to her, the holiday was saved, Cecil was better informed, and now we all have the tools we need to ensure we won’t fall victim to scams today or in the future.