Con artists often choose to prey upon the elderly, and a recent scam has been using their grandchildren as the bait. One Cincinnati grandfather was lured into believing that his eldest grandson was in serious legal trouble. Trouble, which almost put him out $2,300 hadn’t it been for a suspicious Walmart clerk who luckily intervened just in time.
Cecil Rodgers was looking forward to spending the holidays with his grandchildren until a phone call quickly dampened his spirits. The person on the other line claimed to be Rodgers’ eldest grandson and pleaded that he needed bail money in the wake of a drunk driving accident.
“A voice comes on and says, ‘Papaw, this is your oldest grandson. I’m in trouble,’” Rodgers told WCPO. “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 was then instructed by someone posing as a lawyer to send $2,300 for a bail bond through a direct store-to-store money transfer.
Rodgers’ concern for his grandson prompted him to head to a local Walmart to make the transfer. However, the clerk managing the transaction, Audrella Taylor, was quick to see the red flags that his distress made him blind to.
Despite the caller’s specific instruction to keep the nature of the transaction private, Rodgers explained to Audrella Taylor his situation, which tipped the Walmart clerk off that he was being set up. “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,’” Taylor told WCPO.
Taylor told Rodgers to go home and contact his family to verify the caller’s story. Of course, Rodgers’ grandson was safe at college and had never made the call. Unfortunately, not all grandparents are this lucky. The Better Business Bureau has deemed this ploy “the grandfather scam,” a con which has robbed a number of victims of thousands of dollars.
Audrella Taylor told WCPO that the biggest red flag for her was that Rodgers’ daughter hadn’t been contacted. “I felt like if a son was in true need, the mom would have been contacted first before the grandpa would,” she stated. Rodgers is incredibly grateful that Taylor saw past the scam and saved him the $2,300 he was moments away from losing just before Christmas. The recent surge of “the grandfather scam” has prompted Walmart to train their clerks to be alert for signs of this fraudulent ploy.