Rarely, if ever, do interactions with a supermarket cashier go beyond simple pleasantries. They usually assist you with checking out and bagging your items, maybe even a “how’s it going” but that’s about it, right? That’s what one older man named Cecil Rodgers of Cincinnati, Ohio thought.

When he showed up at a Walmart looking to transfer some money to a family member, he expected the process to be quick and painless. But once the cashier looked at Cecil’s handwritten check, she spotted an alarming problem — and she knew she’d have to tell the sweet old grandfather that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary transaction…

Supermarket checkouts usually consist of exchanging hellos, jiggling the credit card scanner, grabbing your bagged goods, and fin. But recently, thanks to one particularly alert cashier at a Cincinnati Walmart, a senior citizen avoided making a huge mistake.

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As a retiree and a grandfather, Cecil’s life could have been distilled down to the things that really mattered—namely, his family. Never was this truer than around the holiday season.

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Even when money was tight, Cecil wanted to contribute to his family’s happy holidays any way he could. Then, with just a few days to go before Christmas in 2017, he received a phone call that would cause him to have an unusual interaction with a Walmart cashier—one that he’d likely never forget!

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Cecil was hanging up his last remaining Christmas decorations when he heard the phone ring. He hadn’t been expecting a phone call, but he cheerily answered it nonetheless. What he heard next surprised him…

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In his old age, his hearing wasn’t it what it used to be, which led him to use hearing aids. Regardless, he could tell the voice on the other end of the line was distraught. The conversation that followed was something slightly terrifying.

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“A voice comes on and says, ‘Papaw, this is your oldest grandson. I’m in trouble,'” Cecil relayed to WCPO News. “‘I hit a woman’s car and she was seven months pregnant. And they charged me with drunken driving, and I’m in jail.'”

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Needless to say, it was a surprising call for Cecil to receive out of the blue, but it took yet another surprising turn when his grandson passed the phone over to his lawyer, who delivered another dose of bad news.

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The lawyer instructed Cecil to bring $2,300 to a nearby Walmart and transfer it to another Walmart in Maryland, where it could be used to bail his grandson, Phillip, out of jail. Worried about his family, Cecil rushed off to do what they asked.

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Once there, Cecil filled out the necessary paperwork for a money transfer and stepped into a checkout line. He didn’t know the cashier, Audrella Taylor, but he soon learned how lucky he was to have chosen her line.

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Cecil stepped up to the register, and lucky for him, he did more than just say “hello.” He explained his grandson’s unfortunate circumstances to Audrella, but the situation just didn’t add up for her.

She took note of the story’s details in her head and just didn’t buy it. “Well,” she told Cecil as he stood in line, “I am going to refuse the sender. I’m not going to let you send that money because I think you’ve been scammed.”

Before she would let the transaction through, she told Cecil he needed to call his daughter or grandkids and confirm whether or not Phillip had been truly locked up or if there’d even been a car accident. Per her request, he stepped out of line and made the call.

Sure enough, when Cecil contacted his daughter, she confirmed Audrella’s suspicions. There was no car accident and there was no grandson in prison; instead, Cecil had been contacted by scammers! But how did Audrella know?

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See, as Cecil relayed his “grandson’s” predicament (the person who called earlier had, obviously, not actually been Phillip) to Audrella, one detail, in particular, stood out to her…

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“His daughter hadn’t contacted him,” Audrella told WCPO. “I felt like if his son was in true need that the mom would know first before the grandpa would.” Thanks to that bit of investigatory logic, Audrella saved the day—or at least a few thousand dollars for an old man!

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The Walmart managers expressed gratitude for Audrella. “We’re very proud of Audrella and all of our customer service associates that helped,” the store’s manager, Dominic Gross, said. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time scammers preyed on the elderly—or anyone.

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As one employee said, “You guys wouldn’t believe how many people we’ve saved money for simply by asking them heartfelt questions.” And true enough, by letting the conversation evolve beyond the “hellos” and “goodbyes” of a usual transaction, Audrella thwarted a scam.

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Unfortunately, this wasn’t a story that ended with scammers in jail or even slapped with a massive fine. In reality, the scammers were free to try their scheme again on another senior—a heinous fact indeed. How did Cecil feel about all of this?

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Thanks to Audrella’s compassion, Cecil didn’t blow his valuable Christmas money on a scammer. While he had a hiccup in his holiday season, in the end, it went off without any further hitches.

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It’s not just the elderly who become victims of elaborate schemes. Genevieve Snow, a 29-year-old financial consultant who lives with three roommates in East Williamsburg, New York, can attest to that.

After receiving an email about discounts from a cleaning company she had used before, Joanna’s Cleaning Services, she thought it was perfect timing. Upon hiring two cleaners, Genevieve let the women in and paid them the $185 fee plus a $60 tip up-front. She then said goodbye to her two cats and left for work.

Shortly after, one of Genevieve’s roommates caught a cleaner lounging on the couch as another went in the bathroom — after being specifically told not to — and walked in on the other roommate showering. Not a good start, but it gets worse.

Around lunchtime, Genevieve’s trusted neighbor came by her place to pick up her keys from the cleaning crew. He was surprised to find both the workers passed out. Did Genevieve know about this?

The neighbor immediately alerted Genevieve, who was still at work but sent an email to the owner of the company, Joanna. She felt sympathetic, thinking the women had been overworked, but she had paid them to clean her house not to take naps. But that sympathy wouldn’t last for long…

When Genevieve and her roommate came home after 5, they got the fright of their lives. The front door was left open and two bare feet were sticking out of the kitchen. They instantly dialed 9-1-1. “My first thought was that someone had inhaled cleaning supplies and lost consciousness or died.”

Trash and food were strewn across the floor, shelves were knocked over, and the spice rack was completely destroyed. In the living room, Genevieve found her coffee table flipped over — the place was a total mess.

It was then Genevieve noticed that her previously full bottle of vodka was almost entirely empty. The women were drunk —  and one made off with the apartment keys while the other was barely conscious on the floor, wearing a “drink and be merry” shirt. Talk about irony…

The police, an ambulance, and even a fire truck quickly arrived. After making sure the intoxicated woman was physically okay, the cops got her up to talk and took her away. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it.

After everybody left, Genevieve emailed Joanna again, explaining what happened and demanding a refund for all her expenses — including an emergency locksmith. She initially apologized, offered a free cleaning, and said she would “fix it” but that’s not quite how things went…

First, Joanna texted excuses for the employee who was found on the kitchen floor. Later, she started refusing to pay anything and criticized Genevieve for taking photos of the woman in question. This set off even more red flags.

Genevieve began to suspect the whole operation was a scam. The real identity of the person Genevieve spoke to is unclear, and the company’s Facebook address is in the middle of an intersection. The company is nearly untraceable.

Genevieve decided to leave a negative review on their Yelp page, and her friends followed suit, much to Joanna’s dismay. A woman who claimed to be Joanna texted Genevieve in response to these posts, blaming the disastrous service on another cleaning company run by another woman also named Joanna: Joanna Oltuszewska.

Thanks to the internet, Genevieve’s friends were able to do some sleuthing. When they found Joanna Oltuszewska’s empty Facebook page, they noticed she had only one friend. When they sent Genevieve a photo of her, she said: “OMG! That’s Pink Shirt! The lady on my kitchen floor!”

Although Genevieve and her friends have their suspicions, the identity of Joanna is still unclear. They do accept checks so they must have an address, but none that Genevieve was able to find. ‘Pink Shirt’ did change her employment status on Facebook to “self-employed” recently, but nothing has been proven so far.

Genevieve waited until the end of September for Joanna’s Cleaning Service to pony up and pay for the damages and refund the cleaning fee (plus the tip), but the issue remained unresolved. In early October, she planned to take the case to small claims court to seek justice.

Not only was her home disrespected and damaged, but the pets in the house could have escaped through the front door that was left open. Genevieve loves her two rescue cats, Bandit and Calvin, and would be heartbroken if something happened to them.

The physical damages to the apartment have been repaired since the incident, but Genevieve and her roommates are still shaken by the fact that this happened in their home. Determined to make the best of the situation, they took things a step further…

“I’m going to try to work with neighbors to expand formal meet and greet events for the whole block with risk reporting and the like.” Hopefully in the future, the neighbors can work together to help in situations like this one.

A few of Genevieve’s friends urged her to use her new-found fame to set up a GoFundMe page, but Genevieve doesn’t want innocent people to pay for the faults of the cleaning company. Instead, she is encouraging people to donate to the Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth.

The outcome of this case is still pending, but Genevieve doesn’t plan to dwell on the negative. She wants to move forward. How amazing is it that she was able to take a bad situation and use the attention for good!