The digital age has brought with it an increase in scams because it is so easy to connect and talk to strangers, be that online or over the phone. This disconnection from face to face encounters leaves people vulnerable and more susceptible than ever before to scammers. These despicable individuals set up phony traps to lead people to hand over their hard-earned money without even realizing they are being fooled, until it’s too late.
The saddest part about it is they prey on elderly people as their targets because, in general, they are more trusting and less savvy; or out of touch with the sort of things that younger people have become accustomed to being cautious about.
This sort of unpleasant scenario is exactly what loving grandfather Cecil Rodgers was so nearly another victim to. It all began with a telephone call…
Cecil is an elderly man from Cincinnati, Ohio who was looking forward to spending time with his family over the holidays. They were all going to visit him, including his adult grandchildren, at his Elmwood Place home. He was happily daydreaming about this when it happened.
Cecil received a phone call from a man pretending to be his grandson. His fake grandson told him that he’d been involved in a terrible car crash and needed some financial help. He then passed the phone abruptly to his ‘attorney’. When the ‘attorney’ got on the phone he demanded Cecil send money.
Completely taken off guard, the poor guy was panic-stricken. He just hung up the phone and immediately left the house to go to his grandsons rescue before it was too late.
“A voice comes on and says, ‘Papaw, this is your oldest grandson. I’m in trouble.’ 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.’”
After that, a lawyer got on the phone and explained to him that in order to help his grandson, he had to go to Wal-Mart and transfer $2,300 of his money to another store. That money would be picked up by him (the lawyer) and then be used to post the grandson’s bail in order to get him out. He assured Cecil that everything would be okay once he got the money.
That’s when Cecil then hung up to rush out and save the day. He hurried to his bank, withdrew the money, and went straight to his local Wal-Mart to send it without delay. He was so worried about his grandson that he didn’t even hesitate to question the phone call. All he could think about was sending that cash.
The lucky part of his day was when he stepped into cashier Audrella Taylor’s line in Wal-Mart. She stubbornly refused to execute his transaction and asked exactly why he was sending that amount of money. Confused as to why she wasn’t just doing her job (times a-wastin’!) Cecil told her the truth and opened up to Audrella about his grandson’s emergency.
From what he told her, she realized instantly that her instincts were correct and that something was not right. She did not want to see Cecil fall victim to fraud so she decided to help him out.
“He said something about somebody was locked up in jail. He got a call, and he needed to send $2,300. 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.’”
Audrella ask him if any of his other family members had been contacted by either the grandson or his ‘lawyer’. He admitted that they hadn’t. That was all the confirmation she needed to be sure something was wrong because she knew that in the event of a bad accident the first person who should have been approached was the grandson’s mother, not the grandfather.
Still, Cecil couldn’t fathom why someone would try to take his money in that way. The idea was absurd! He surely hadn’t even considered the idea that it wasn’t his grandson on the phone. He was starting to get very anxious about all her questions and, still believed he was doing right by his grandson, didn’t want to delay. On top of it all, the lawyer on the line had advised him not to tell anyone about the phone call, suggesting that if he did his grandson might end up in even more trouble, and he had told this pestering woman!
Finally, Audrella managed to convince him not to send the money yet. She got him to calm down, then call his other family members. She was confident that he would find out his grandson was perfectly ok, and sure enough, she was right. Cecil’s grandson was safe at college.
In the end, the voice on the phone wasn’t Cecil’s grandson at all. And, of course, the second person who took the line wasn’t a lawyer, either. They were low life scammers who had perfected their craft of preying on the elderly in what’s become known as the “grandparent scam.”
It’s a good thing Cecil listened to Audrella because there would have been no way for him to get his money back had he sent it. Audrella’s manager has said he is very proud of her for going above and beyond, whilst Cecil’s family is grateful for her intervention. Now, Wal-Mart is training all their employees to pick up on signs of fraud, says the manager.
The Moral Of The Story
Con artists and scammers often have an easy time swindling seniors out of their money. They know they will, more often than not, trust and easily rushed into action without question. You don’t want that to be someone you care about.
Therefore, everyone should have a talk with their elderly loved ones about these potential scams.
Make sure they understand that they should never feel pressured to transfer money or give up their banking account and other personal information over the phone or email.
Knowledge is power. There won’t always be someone like Audrella around who takes the time to save a target by gathering information to identify a scam before it occurs.
Let this story serve as a warning, as well as a reminder for you to teach your grandparents about this threat!